Marble cakes are both homey and festive. A marble cake looks slick when you slice into it and reveal the delicate pattern of the two batters swirled together. My first experience in working with this type of mixture came about as the result of a marbled chocolate terrine that appeared first in the pages of the old Cook’s Magazine, and then in my chocolate book. Everything about it was right – the texture, the flavor, the quantity of mixture in relation to the mold – everything that is, except the marbling. Even when I barely mixed the white and dark chocolate mixtures at all, what I got was a few streaks of dark and white, and mostly a muddy combined color. After several frustrating attempts I realized that I had too much dark chocolate mixture and I recast the recipe so there was twice as much white chocolate mixture as dark and the terrine mixture marbled perfectly. So this marble cake is proportioned in the same way: Rather than dividing the base batter in half, I like to remove about one third of it and add the chocolate. Thanks to my old friend Ceri Hadda, who shared her mother’s recipe years ago.
Makes one 10-inch tube or Bundt cake, about 24 slices
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
7 large eggs
3 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, melted and cooled
2 cups Base Batter, above
One 12-cup tube or Bundt pan, buttered, coated with fine, dry bread crumbs, and sprayed with vegetable oil cooking spray
Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325˚F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir well by hand to mix. Add the butter. Beat the mixture on low speed with the paddle until the mixture is a smooth, heavy paste, 1 to 2 minutes.
Whisk the eggs and rum together. On medium speed, beat one third of the egg mixture into the flour and butter mixture. Beat for 1 minute.
Stop and scrape down the bowl and beater. Add half of the egg mixture and beat for 2 minutes. Repeat with the other half.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large rubber spatula give the batter a final mix.
For the chocolate batter, combine the rum, milk, and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl and whisk well to dissolve the baking soda. Scrape in the chocolate and whisk it well. Add the 2 cups of base batter to the chocolate mixture and whisk well to combine.
Scrape half the remaining base batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Cover with the chocolate batter, making as even a layer as possible. Finally top with the remaining base batter and smooth the top. Use a wide-bladed table knife or a thin metal spatula to marble the batter: Insert the knife into the batter at the central tube, with the flat side of the blade facing you. Draw the blade through the batter to the bottom of the pan and up and out the side of the pan closest to you, repeating the motion every inch or so around the pan, making a spiral in the batter, almost as though you were folding egg whites into it. Stop when you get back to the point where you started. Don’t bother to smooth the top of the batter – it might disturb the marbling.
Bake the cake until it is well risen and firm, and a toothpick or a small thin knife inserted midway between the side of the pan and the central tube emerges dry, about 1 hour.
Cool the cake in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert a rack over it. Invert and lift off the pan. Cool the cake completely on the rack.
Serving: This doesn’t need any accompaniment.
Storage: Wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap and keep it at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage. Defrost cake and bring it to room temperature before serving.