Marble cake historical background

Did you know that the idea to marble two different cake batters originated in 19th century Germany? It appears to be so, and this cake made its way to the USA through German immigrants before the civil war. Originally the marbling was made by mixing spices and molasses into one batter which is then marbled with the original spice-less and molasses-less batter to create the marbled cake. The addition of chocolate batter in the marble cake took place in America, with its first recorded recipe found in the book “Aunt Babette’s Cook Book: Foreign and Domestic Receipts for the Household” which was published in 1889. Marble cake remained popular in the 19th and 20th centuries.

I know that many people grew up in households that regularly served marble cake, and as an ode to those days, I decided to post the recipe here. I have also included a thick ganache recipe for you to drizzle over or cover the cake with because I like to serve it with ganache for an extra chocolate fix. If you decide to go without you can serve it as is, or dust it lightly with icing sugar. Whatever you do with this, you know you will have a fab cake for tea!


Serves: 8-1 Cook Time: 65 mins

255g all-purpose flour

1 1/2  tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp DS Himalayan Pink Salt

115g unsalted butter softened

200g granulated sugar

60ml vegetable oil

2 large eggs, at room temperature

60g yogurt at room temperature 

2 tbsp DS Madagascar BourbonVanilla Extract or the seeds of 1 DS Vanilla Bean

190ml whole milk, at room temperature

16g unsweetened coco powder

1/2 tsp espresso powder

For Ganache Topping

113g quality DS Belgian Milk Chocolate Buttons or DS Belgian Dark Chocolate Buttons

90ml heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and generously grease your cake pan.

Whisk the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) together. Set aside.

Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Add the oil and beat until combined. The mixture will still be quite creamy. 

Add the eggs and beat on high speed for 1 minute and then beat in the yogurt and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. The mixture will be lumpy– that’s ok. 

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly pour in 160ml milk. Beat on low speed just until all of the ingredients are combined. Do not over-mix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no large lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.

Transfer a little less than half (just eyeball it, doesn’t need to be perfect) to another bowl. Stir in the remaining 30ml milk, the cocoa powder, and espresso powder.

Layer and swirl the batters:

Spread a thin layer of the plain vanilla batter in the bottom of your prepared loaf pan. Now you will layer spoonfuls of each batter on top– cover bottom vanilla layer with a few spoonfuls of the chocolate batter, then a few spoonfuls of the vanilla batter, then more chocolate batter, then more vanilla batter, and so on until all of the cake batter is used. Gently tilt the pan to level out the batters. Using a knife, make rounded horizontal zig-zags from one side of the pan to the other and then make rounded vertical zig-zags from the top to the bottom.

Bake for about 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. As all ovens are different keep a close eye on the cake after 55 minutes. If the cake is browning too quickly on top, loosely tent with aluminum foil as it bakes.

Cool cake in the pan set on a wire rack for 1 hour before removing from the pan. Note that the cake slightly sinks as it cools and that’s completely normal. Feel free to continue cooling the cake directly on a wire rack or you can top it and slice it while it’s still slightly warm after 1 hour cooling inside the pan.

Make the ganache topping:

Place the chocolate and cream in a medium heat-safe bowl set over a medium saucepan of simmering water. (Or use a double boiler if you have one.) Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Stir frequently until chocolate has melted and ganache is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside at room temperature for 20-30 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Drizzle or spread topping on cake. Topping sets into a fudge-like consistency after several hours.

Cover leftovers tightly and store cake (with or without topping) at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Freezing Instructions: 

Topped or plain cake freezes well up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature or serve cold.


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