When my mum was learning how to bake, the now-battered handouts they passed around in baking class always started with a simple pound cake recipe and a chocolate one side-by-side. Quite simply, marbling it together was thus considered a fancy variation that even beginners could accomplish.
Growing up, a marble cake or even a pound cake wasn’t on the table as much because mum preferred to make more sponge cake-low on flour and practically fat-free. Dad’s always been into sponge cakes sans icing, custard or even a soak. However, I’m the complete opposite and enjoy pound cakes a lot more and invite variations. On the blog there are already half a dozen pound cake recipes, then why do you ask is this marble cake any different? For quite a few reasons actually.
To begin, the texture of this marble cake is way better than your standard pound cake. The crumb is moist and delicate, not too tightly packed, and boasts a rich vanilla flavour which depends so much on the quality of the products you’re using. Simply put, a pound cake is the tour de force of butter, sugar, vanilla, flour and eggs. Each of these must make their presence felt without overpowering the other. I use good quality butter in my pound cake and even better vanilla because it’s the vanilla’s rich flavour that makes all the difference between a good pound cake and a great one.
Using a quality vanilla bean paste from a brand like Urban Platter beats scraping the bean each time yourself. A small jar of the sticky black paste in your larder goes a long way in recipes for pannacotta, custard-based desserts like creme brûlée, ice cream, and even cheesecake. There’s just no substitute for good vanilla, and often you’ll find that people compromise because of the cost of vanilla beans, but the vanilla bean paste from Urban Platter is at a really good price point, so don’t settle for imitation vanilla for certain recipes where vanilla is the hero flavour. The product itself has a long shelf life and a teaspoon of the paste can replace a whole vanilla pod.
Here, in this marble cake recipe, the base batter is a vanilla cake which is divided, and one half is combined with melted good quality dark chocolate-again, not compound, but couverture. The difference if you don’t know is very simple really. Compound chocolate is made from cocoa powder, is easier to handle than couverture, but the difference is obvious in the taste. Couverture is richer and you need it here in this recipe because I want a good colour and rich chocolatey taste to come through and contrast the sweet vanilla cake. If you didn’t know it already I’m a huge fan of adding salt to my desserts and this salted chocolate ganache is brilliant because the salt really makes the chocolate flavourer more pronounced. The ganache is there to up the chocolate in the recipe, but you could just as easily omit it and serve the cake as it is. Frankly, since it’s so low effort, I’d do both, but that’s just me.
Vanilla Marble Cake With Salted Chocolate Ganache
Yield 8-10 servings
When making this in a bundt, the batter is going to rise above the tube of the bundt so don’t be alarmed, but the cake does tend to shrink as it cools, so you’ll still have a perfect looking (and tasting) cake at the end of the day.
Dark chocolate 85g
Egg yolks 6
Greek yoghurt 242g (or a mixture of cream and homestyle curd)
Vanilla Bean paste 1 tsp (I used Urban Platter’s Vanilla Bean Paste)
Cake flour 300g (made by measuring out 2 cups All-purpose flour and replacing 4 tablespoons of the flour with cornflour- 2 tbsp per cup, then sifting and using as required
Caster sugar 300g
Baking powder 1 tsp
Baking soda 3/4 tsp
Salt a pinch
Salted Butter 255g, at just below room temperature, (cool to the touch and soft)
For The Salted Chocolate Ganache
Dark chocolate 113g, chopped
Sea salt flakes for finishing the ganache
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Butter and flour a bundt pan very well. Heat the chocolate for the cake in a Bain Marie or in a microwave-safe bowl, microwaving at 10-second intervals, stirring in between until the chocolate has melted. Set this aside.
Whisk together 1/4 cup of the Greek yoghurt, the yolks and the Urban Platter vanilla bean paste in another bowl.
Next up, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl using a hand mixer on the lowest speed- the cake flour, baking powder, soda, sugar and salt- mix for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining Greek yoghurt and again run the hand mixer for another few seconds or until everything looks shaggy and moist from the butter and yoghurt. Increase the speed of the hand blender and beat the mixture for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides after the first minute. Slowly, add the egg mixture in three parts, blending for 20 seconds each time you add a bit of the egg mixture.
Remove a third of the batter and combine it with the melted chocolate. Using an ice cream scooper, scoop out balls of the plain vanilla cake mixture and cover the base of the bundt pan. Scoop layers of the dark chocolate mixture on top of the white cake layer, and finish with any dollops of remaining white batter. Using the back of a teaspoon, swirl the batters in a wavy fashion, going up and down as you move around the tin. Transfer to the oven and let the cake bake for 50 minutes to an hour, checking in halfway to see if the top is colouring too quickly. If it is, you want to cover the top with aluminium foil.
Remember that during baking, the batter will rise above the centre tube and there’s no need to be alarmed as the cake will shrink as it cools. Once the cake passes the skewer test (a skewer inserted sideways in this case) let the cake cool inside the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out and letting it cool completely.
Once the cake has cooled completely, for the ganache, heat the cream very lightly, just to get it hot but not boiling and pour over the chopped chocolate. Keep covered for 5 minutes, then stir together with a spatula. Grind over quite a bit of sea salt flakes over the ganache and pour this over the cooled cake, adding more grindings of salt on top if necessary. Use a skewer to run a line through the centre of the ganache and serve.