The urge to make a cake came over me again this week and I am not entirely sure what triggered it. Could it have been the desire to create something beautiful? Perhaps it was down to a subconscious craving for something sweet and satisfying? Both are possible. It was, however, probably down to the fact I had a lot of eggs in the cupboard and I noticed their use by date was fast approaching, or a combination of all three. As I’ve mentioned before I am not a natural baker. I enjoy the process but am much more prone to moments of self-doubt and obsessive recipe checking. I hope that one day I will get to the stage where I feel confident in making basic cake mixtures without the need to re-read every ingredient about ten times. Until that day comes I have my collection of Supercook books. These are a series of recipe books that my Mum had in a ring binder and that to this day are only series of anything that she ever collected. They were ever-present in my childhood and are an excellent resource for cakes, cookies, puds and all manner of random 1970’s meals. As such when I spotted a complete set in a charity shop in Brighton I snapped up the lot for the price of 50p per volume. Never has money ever been as well spent I can tell you!
Let’s get started
I have been a long time admirer of marble cake. As a child I was mesmerised by the mix of chocolate and vanilla sponge and how it was achieved. As an adult I looked up how it was done and realised I was a stupid child. It always felt like a grown ups cake to the young me which further added to its appeal and mystery. I still love the visual effect that marble cake delivers and it remains a favourite. Having made this once before I knew that my Supercook had the recipe I needed and so I set about my business.
The basic cake mixture is fairly standard which starts by creaming together butter and sugar. You then add plain flour, corn flour and baking powder to the butter which becomes quite a stiff dry mixture. To add some moisture egg yolks are then added followed by whisked egg whites which are folded in. You then separate the mixture in half placing each in a separate bowl. To one of these you add cocoa and the other vanilla essence or seeds. You can flavour this any way you want and I will definitely experiment with other combinations and colours in the future.
Time to get creative
To create the cake I went with a round 7″ cake tin. This is bucking the traditional loaf tin shape that marble cakes often come in, but I am a rebel. Grease and line the tin before adding the mixture. In order to achieve the marble effect start by filling opposing quarters of the tin with the two cake mixtures so that you have alternate quarters. Once you have done one layer you repeat the process but alternating the colours the opposite way so that you have a chocolate layer on top of the vanilla layer. It is quite hard to explain in writing but I hope that makes sense. To create the marbling effect use a knife or skewer and draw some circles or lines through the cake tin, take care not to go too mad and start mixing. Once compete level off the surface and place into a pre-heated oven at around 190C and bake for around 25mins. My Supercook advised a slightly ridiculous 45 minutes but mine was done in much less. Use a skewer to check the cake, you will know when it is done. Leave to cool before decorating.
Marble cake does not usually benefit from some additional decoration but I wanted to add something but keep it to a minimum. I love combining chocolate and orange and so decided to drizzle a ganache over the top. I used some top quality mandarin spiced drinking chocolate from Montezuma’s in Brighton to make this. I heated some double cream until nearly boiling and poured the hot cream over the drinking chocolate to melt it. As this was drinking chocolate I then added a few spoonfuls of cocoa to thicken it and also add a stronger cocoa flavour. As it was still fairly runny I also added a couple of spoonfuls of icing sugar as well. Once this has cooled sufficiently but not completely I then drizzled this over the cake. I think you will agree that this resulted in an attractive looking cake. Overall I was very pleased with the result and the cake had a nice consistency to it and a really good crust. The chocolate sauce with its mandarin flavouring was a fantastic addition and really added something special. So there you are…but wait there is more!
Yes I hinted that there was a little something extra and I was not referring to the sauce, although the sauce was instrumental. Once I had drizzled the cake I still had a large amount of lovely creamy chocolate orange loveliness left. Without wanting this to go to waste I added in a few table spoons of plain flour and some baking powder until I got a consistency that resembled a cake mix. I then buttered some ramekins and dusted them with cocoa powder as you would with a fondant. I then spooned in the mixture and placed them in to oven. The result was pretty fabulous looking like muffin and tasting like a lava cake/fondant. I left these in the oven slightly longer than I wanted so the centre was not totally runny but it would have been. The flavour was amazing, rich with cocoa and mandarin adding a zesty note. I think that these were actually better than the main cake and I am certainly going to make more as it was ridiculously simple.