I remember that the first cake I ever baked was a marble cake. When my mother would bake us a loaf of marble cake, I just couldn’t understand how you could make a cake ‘have pretty patterns inside’. I later got my mother to teach me how when I was old enough, and so for the first post on my blog it has to be this classic cake from my childhood. This recipe makes for a light and moist sponge with a delicate taste combination of vanilla and chocolate that suits any time of day. If you want to present this to friends or just want to add another dimension to the loaf, you can also add a chocolate icing which I have enclosed the recipe of. However, I more often make it without any icing and it is great with or without.
This cake can be made with the ‘all-in-one’ method where you just add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix until well-blended. This is the simplest way to make a cake in general and it involves less time and effort. But because you don’t really incorporate any air into the mixture the texture of the cake will not be as light as when you cream it. It is, despite this, the best way to do it if you are a complete first timer. I personally prefer creaming (cream the butter and sugar first and then adding the other ingredients) because it makes a lighter and more fluffy spongy. To make this cake extra moist, I also have an extra tip that is an old housewives’ trick which can only be used when creaming, and that is to add a few spoonfuls of the flour with the butter and sugar to help emulsify them better and thus make the cake more moist. Anyway, the choice is up to you!
The recipe is as follows:
225g (8oz) butter, softened
225g (8oz) caster sugar
275g (10oz) self-raising flour, sifted
2 level tsp baking powder
4 large free-range eggs (make sure they are room temperature to make them easier to incorporate)
2 tbsp milk (semi-skimmed is fine)
½ tsp vanilla extract
1½ level tbsp cocoa powder (I used Green & Blacks’ try to use a high quality powder if you can, simply because it gives a better flavour)
2 tbsp hot water
for the icing (optional)
25g (1oz) butter
15g (½oz) cocoa powder, sifted
1–2 tbsp milk
100g (4oz) icing sugar, sifted
about 25g (1oz) white chocolate, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Fan 140°C/gas 3. Lightly grease the tin and line with a wide strip of non-stick baking paper to go up the sides and over the base of the tin.
2. Beat together the butter and sugar together until they are lighter in colour (very pale cream) and fluffy in texture. Whilst you are beating, add a few spoonfuls of the flour to the mixture. This is optional but makes your sponge more moist.
OR, if you want you the ‘all-in-one’ method, Measure the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs, milk and vanilla extract into a large bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer for about 2 minutes, until well blended. Spoon half the mixture into another bowl and set aside. Then progress to step 5 and proceed.
3. Gradually add in the eggs, milk and vanilla extract, beating hard with each addition, until it is even mixed.
4. Add the self-raising flour and baking powder, then fold lightly and evenly into the creamed mixture. Spoon half the mixture into another bowl and set aside.
5. In a small bowl, go ahead mix the cocoa powder and hot water together until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool for a little, then add to one of the bowls of cake mixture, mixing well until evenly blended.
6. Spoon the vanilla and chocolate cake mixtures randomly into the prepared tin until all of the mixture is used up, and if you want use a skewer to swirl the mixtures together. Then gently level the surface. Bake for 50 minutes–1 hour, until the cake is well risen, springy to the touch and beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack, peel off the lining paper and leave to cool completely.
7. (OPTIONAL) To make the icing, melt the butter in a small pan, add the cocoa powder, stir to blend and cook gently for 1 minute. Stir in the milk and icing sugar, then remove from the heat and mix thoroughly. If necessary, leave the icing on one side, stirring occasionally, to thicken. Spread the cold cake evenly with the icing, then drizzle the melted white chocolate over the top. Leave to set.