Marble Spice Cake

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Let's pretend it's not the middle of October and still 90-something degrees out.

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California needs to get it's head in the fall game. 

Meanwhile, I'm heating up my apartment and baking up a storm every weekend in hopes that it will eventually cool down to be cozy and warm rather than hot and sweaty.

This cake is the best of fall and the upcoming holidays while still remaining light with a delicate crumb. It reminds me of gingerbread in the shape of a bundt pan and of course as a cake. There were many excuses for this cake such as:

  • Because I needed a cake to match my prized marble pastry board and rolling pin.

  • Because fall really needs to come around and this cake tastes and looks like Christmas.

  • Because you should never be invited to a friend's house without bringing dessert.

  • Because it was an excuse to test out my new camera.

  • Because I've never photographed sifted powdered sugar. And still need some more practice.

  • Because bundt cakes and everyday cakes are needed throughout the week.

  • Because I'm always interested in trying new desserts.

But two batters?

Why have only one flavor when you could have two? It's maybe only 1.5 times the work because you usually already have the ingredients out, the kitchen is already a mess and layering cures this inner desire to play with your food. 

Marble cakes are completely worth it. They're fascinating. They're great fun. They look difficult when they're really not. And you can wow your friends with the swirly design that looks like it took a lot of effort. 

Plus this cake uses the yolks in one batter and the egg whites in another with similar assembly processes. 

To achieve the marbled effect, you need a one dark batter and a light one. 

The dark batter is heavy with molasses, brown sugar and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. To counter that in both color and flavor, the light batter is slightly sweet with a hint of vanilla and almond. Did I mention this cake comes out smelling like Christmas is already here? And easily comes out of the buttered and bread crumbed dusted pan. 

You could make a glaze, frosting or chocolate sauce but I found that a dusting of powdered sugar was just right. 

For the dark batter, sift together the dry ingredients. Then, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs yolks and the molasses. Once that is blended, alternate the dry ingredients in 3 additions and yogurt in 2 additions until a smooth batter is formed. Remove from the bowl and set aside.

For the light batter, sift together the dry ingredients. Cream together the butter, extracts and 3/4 of the sugar until creamy. Once that is blended, alternate the dry ingredients in 3 additions and milk in 2 additions until a smooth batter is formed. 

In a separate medium-sized bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add the rest of the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Then, fold the beaten egg whites into the light batter until it just comes together.

And now we marble! 

Place six dollops of the dark batter on the bottom of the bundt pan. Inside of those dollops, place another dollop of the light batter. Repeat until all the batter is used. 

Give the batter a quick swirl in one direction and then the other to smooth out the top and disperse any air bubbles.

Bake for about 1 hour or until a cake tester removes cleanly from the cake batter. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then loosen the edges with a knife, cover with a wire rack and flip over. Let stand to cool before cutting.

The smell when you remove this cake from both the oven and the pan is heavenly.

And the cake itself is gorgeously swirled and springs back at your touch.

marble spice cake
marble spice cake
marble spice cake

It's supposed to cool down this weekend. Whee!


Marble Spice Cake

Slightly adapted from The Marbelized Spice Cake in Maida Heatter's Book of Great American Desserts

Yields: 12-16 portions

Notes

This cake freezes quite well. Wrap individual pieces in the plastic wrap. You can set a frozen piece to thaw for about an hour or microwave until just warmed. Don't over microwave!

Ingredients

Dark batter

  • 2 cups cake flour, sifted

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg

  • ½ teaspoon allspice or ground ginger

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup of butter (1 stick)

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed

  • 4 egg yolks

  • ½ cup molasses

  • 1 cup plain yogurt

Light batter

  • 2½ cake flour, sifted

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup of butter (1 stick)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • ¾ cup milk

  • 4 egg whites

Steps

Thoroughly butter and dust your bundt pan with fine bread crumbs. Set aside.

For the dark batter, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or ginger, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs yolks and the molasses. Once that is blended, alternate the dry ingredients in 3 additions and yogurt in 2 additions until a smooth batter is formed. Remove from the bowl and set aside.

For the light batter, sift together the dry ingredients. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter, extracts and ¾ of the sugar until creamy. Once that is blended, alternate the dry ingredients in 3 additions and milk in 2 additions until a smooth batter is formed.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add the rest of the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Then, fold the beaten egg whites into the light batter until it just comes together.

To marble, place six dollops of the dark batter on the bottom of the bundt pan. Inside of those dollops, place another dollop of the light batter. Repeat until all the batter is used. Give the batter a quick swirl in one direction and then the other to smooth out the top and disperse any air bubbles.

Bake for about 1 hour or until a cake tester removes cleanly from the cake batter. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then loosen the edges with a knife, cover with a wire rack and flip over. Let stand to cool before cutting.

Dress with dusted powdered sugar or your favorite glaze or frosting.