This article is about how to make a perfect marble cake.
I started to take up baking about ten years ago, and particularly like the rich flavor and tender texture of butter. This marble cake recipe is adapted from my butter cake recipe, which is the top-selling cake in my cafe.
Since I also like chocolate, this marble cake has a rich chocolate taste and yet not overshadowing the butter flavor.
What is marble cake? A marble cake is butter cake with mottled with chocolate or with streaks of chocolate. It is usually made with cake batter and a chocolate batter.
I will explain to you how do I make my version of marble cake in this recipe. The process is similar to my butter cake recipe, except the additional part to prepare the chocolate batter. You can call this recipe a chocolate pound cake.
You can get read my in-depth discussion on how to make the best butter cake article on this blog, which is divide into two parts. Part one discusses the choice of ingredients and technique, and part two is the detail explanation of the entire preparation and baking process.
Let’s get into the details right away.
How to make the best marble cake
1. Prepare the marble cake batter by using the creaming method
Use the best quality butter
It is vital to use good quality butter because it contributes most flavor in the recipe. I prefer to use unsalted butter because I can control the saltiness. In general, the amount of salt in the salted butter is about one percent, which means if you have a block of butter weighed 250g, it will contain about 2.5g or half teaspoon of salt. Omit the salt in this recipe if you use salted butter.
Make sure the butter is soft before starting the mixing process
I suggest you start making the cake by cutting the cold butter into cubes and keep them into the mixing bowl. You need to wait until the butter is soft enough before creaming it with the sugar. Hard butter does not cream well with sugar and will not trap enough air to raise the cake during baking. That is why we cut and place the butter in the mixing bowl of our restaurant a day before so that we can start work immediately the next morning. Our staff does not need to wait for it to soften, which may take about an hour due to the large volume.
Add the sugar to the butter and start mixing once the butter is softened. Soft butter combines well with sugar to form a homogenous buttercream like mixture. The mixing action traps air in the mix, which will eventually expand in the oven and leaven the cake.
The cake will rise higher if more air is trapped, and yields a softer and fluffy texture. This process depends on a few factors:
- The softness of the butter. The softer the butter, the easier air will be trapped in the butter-sugar mixture.
- The best kind of sugar is castor sugar because of its small granule size. You could also use granulated sugar, but it takes a longer time to cream the butter and sugar together since its granule size is bigger.
- The speed of mixing. Use medium to high speed to mix the butter and sugar yields a smoother and lighter buttercream.
- Type of mixer attachment. The wire whisk attachment of the mixer is more efficient than the blade attachment to create volume.
How long should I mix the butter and sugar?
The mixing time required depends on the four factors as above, and hence it is not possible to recommend a fixed duration. It is more practical to decide when to stop mixing by looking at the appearance of the buttercream. Stop mixing when:
- The color of the butter turns from the initial bright to light yellow.
- It looks like soft ice cream.
- There is no more visible sugar granule in the mixture.
Note: If you are unsure whether you should stop mixing, just continue to mix it longer. There is no such thing as overmixing. No worry!
When to add eggs and milk?
Add the milk and eggs only after the butter and sugar has turned into a smooth buttercream.
I pour ALL the eggs into the buttercream mixture while letting the mixer blade spinning at high speed when I make cakes in my restaurant. However, I am a bit skeptical about doing so when I use a small handheld mixer at home. You will notice I add half of the egg in the video, then followed by the remaining eggs. It is only my mental block, and I firmly believe that it will not make any difference to the result.
After you have added the eggs, it will look curdy initially. This appearance is common, and the mixture will eventually become smoother.
Once the eggs have thoroughly mixed with the butter and sugar, add the milk and continue mixing at medium to high speed until it becomes a smooth batter.
Again, the mixture will not be overmixed. If you are unsure, just mix it longer.
What type of flour is suitable for the cake?
Let me explain the flour, baking powder, and salt before we proceed to the next step.
The cake is tender and moist if you use flour with lower protein content. This type of flour is usually labeled as cake flour. Avoid using flour that is with a high percentage of protein, which is called high protein flour or bread flour. The lower the protein content, the softer the cake will turn out.
This cake has a high amount of butter and will raise quite well even without the addition of baking powder. However, since the chocolate batter is denser and harder to raise without baking powder, I have added two percent to the recipe. (Note: In this recipe, it is 300g of flour times 2 percent that is 6g of baking powder.)
You have to omit the baking powder in the recipe if you are using self-raising flour. Please check the ingredient printed on the box to check how much baking powder is included in the self-raising flour. In all cases, the amount of baking powder in the self-raising flour should be sufficient for this recipe.
As I mentioned earlier, omit the salt in the recipe if you are using salted butter. I use unsalted butter because I bake more often, and besides, I can control the amount of salt I need.
Why is there no vanilla essence in the recipe?
You may wonder why I do not use vanilla essence as most other cake recipes do.
The main reason is I can’t get a good quality vanilla essence at where I live. Most of the ‘essence’ I found in the supermarket are artificial agents, which I think will do more harm than enhancing the flavor.
Secondly, it is not necessary to use it after all, with the use of good quality butter and chocolate.
Combine the flour with the batter
The most significant difference in mixing the butter, sugar, eggs, and milk, versus the inclusion of flour, is the mixing time.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no harm to mix it longer than required, but not after adding the flour.
The flour will react with the water in the batter and start to form gluten. Gluten is an elastic protein chain, just like rubber bands. The longer and vigorous the mixing action, the more gluten will form, and the batter will become more rubbery. In other words, the cake will become more stretchy and lose its soft and tender texture.
Therefore, the endpoint of mixing in the flour is when the flour is completely assimilated into the mixture, with no more visible specks of flour, and becomes a smooth batter. Once you get that texture, stop mixing.
Here is the image of how it looks like:
I add all the flour to the mixture when I use the high power commercial mixer attached with a large wire whisk. You may want to add the flour in stages if you use a small mixing bowl. I find that wire whisk works better than a spatula and the blade attachment of the mixer.
Note: The above method of preparing the batter is nearly identical to my butter cake recipe. I also make banana cakes and orange cakes with a similar creaming technique. There is an in-depth discussion on this topic in this butter cake article for more details.
2. Preparing the chocolate batter for the marble cake
The best ratio between the butter and chocolate batter
The following part of this article is more specific for the marble cake.
I prefer to use one-third of the cake batter to mix with the chocolate to form the chocolate batter. You can use half of the batter if you want more chocolate present in the marble cake.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place it in a large mixing bowl. Heat the chocolate over a pot of boiling water until it is nearly all melted. Remove from heat and keep stirring until the remaining chocolate is completely melted.
Once the chocolate is cold, add one-third of the cake batter to the chocolate and mix it until homogenous.
It is less messy to transfer the batter to the chocolate than pouring the melted chocolate into the cake batter!
Should I use chocolate or cocoa powder for making marble cake?
You can also use a good quality cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate. However, you need less cocoa powder than chocolate as it has a stronger flavor. I suggest substituting every thirty grams of chocolate with one tablespoonful of cocoa powder plus one tablespoon of milk. The additional milk is required because the cocoa powder will make the cake dryer.
3. Preparing the cake pan
I prefer to use a cake pan with a detachable base or a springform pan because it is easier to unmold the cake. Add a few drops of oil to the base before placing a baking paper on it so that the paper will stick to the bottom.
There is no need to line the side of the cake pan with baking paper because the cake will not stick to it. This cake is rich in butter and will slip out from the mold easily.
4. Creating the marble pattern of the cake
You can create different designs by changing the method of adding the batter into the cake pan.
To create the zebra-like stripes. Add a scoop of butter batter to the center of the base, followed by a smaller scoop of chocolate batter. Continue stacking up the batter one on top of the other to form multiple layers with alternate colors. The batter will flow slowly to the side and fill the pan, and the layers will expand to the edge. When you finish adding all the batters, tap the cake several times to smoothen the surface. Then use a wooden skewer or toothpick to draw some line starting from the center to the side. (Please refer to the video in this article.)
To form a patchy pattern, like a black and white cow. Scoop a large portion of the butter and chocolate batters alternatively and randomly into the cake pan.
5. Temperature and timing for baking the marble cake
Bake the marble cake in the preheated oven, middle rack at 175°C/350°F for about 50 minutes, or until the cake achieves the desired color.
The temperature in this recipe is for reference only since there are no two ovens behaved precisely the same. The temperature indicated by the oven may not be accurate in some cases. Furthermore, the position of the heating elements can affect the temperature in the oven.
I would suggest baking the cake for at least fifty minutes until the inner part of the cake is thoroughly cooked. If the cake starts to turn color at the thirty minutes point, you may want to reduce the temperature.
How to prevent cracks of the marble cake at where the butter and chocolate batter meet?
The consistency of both batters is not identical because one of them contains chocolate. As such, they will behave slightly differently and may not rise at the same speed. Therefore, the marble cake tends to crack more often than a pure butter cake.
The trick is to bake at a lower temperature. If cracks happen, you can try to bake it at 170°C/335°F for your next cake.
The crack will usually happen in the last ten minutes of baking. You can minimize the problem by setting your alarm clock at 40 minutes and observe the doneness of the cake. If the cake forms a dome too early, lower the top temperature by 15°C can minimize the formation of cracks.
6. Unmold the cake
To unmold the cake, place a cake board on top of the cake, and flip it upended. The cake will slide out from the mold. Remove the base of the cake mold and the baking paper. Place another cake board on the cake base and flip over again.
Now you can cut it into wedges to serve.
7. How long can I keep the marble cake?
This marble cake can be kept at room temperature (summer/tropical weather) for a day. You can extend the shelflife to 3-4 days by keeping it in a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator. You also double wrap with two plastic bags and keep in the freezer. The quality is as good as the newly baked cake for up to two weeks. Leave the frozen cake at room temperature overnight before consuming it.
- Place the softened butter in the bowl. Add the caster sugar and combine well.
- Add the eggs gradually into the butter-sugar mixture. Add the milk. Continue beating until it becomes homogeneous.
- Sieve the cake flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Combine well. Add the flour mix to the batter. Mix it until it becomes a smooth, creamy texture.
- Melt the chocolate over a pot of hot water, then combine the chocolate with the 1/3 of the batter.
- Line the cake pan with baking paper. Place the yellow batter and the chocolate batter alternatively to the center of the pan.
- Tap the cake pan a few times to smooth out the batter. Use a bamboo skewer to draw some lines to create the pattern.
- Bake at 175 °C/350°F for 50 to 60 minutes.
- Remove it from the cake pan. Cut into wedges and serve.
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Nordic Ware Leakproof Springform Pan, 10 Cup, 9 Inch
King Arthur Cake Flour, Unbleached, 2 lb
Cake Boards set of 18, Cake Boards 6 inch, Cake Boards 8 inch, and Cake Boards 10 Inch, 6 of each, Cake Board, Cake Base, Cardboard Cake Rounds, Cake Circles.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 639Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 231mgSodium: 542mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 1gSugar: 30gProtein: 9g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 4/7/2020