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A marble cake is a cake made with two colors of batter, creating a marbled effect in the finished cake. Depending on how the colors are blended, the cake may be mottled, streaky, or delicately marbled with rich veins of color. This type of cake is quite easy to make, and it can be made with a wide assortment of cake batters to create the desired color and texture.
The classic combination in a marble cake is black and white or yellow, achieved with chocolate and vanilla batters, but there is no reason cooks cannot be more experimental. For example, a basic vanilla cake batter could be mixed and then blended with food coloring for more exciting color combinations. The trick to making a marble cake is to fuss with it as little as possible, to ensure that the colors stay crisp, rather than turning muddy.
The first step in making a marble cake is mixing the cake batter of choice. Next, the batter is split into two parts, and coloring is added to one or both parts. Depending on the taste of the baker, the parts may be equal, or one fraction may be larger than the other, creating a base color. In the case of a vanilla and chocolate marble cake, flavor in the form of melted chocolate or cocoa powder is added to the chocolate half, creating the desired color as well.
Next, the batter is poured into the cake pan. There are a number of ways to do this, and many cooks have a preferred method. One easy method is to alternate layers or ladles full of batter until the pan is full, and then drag a toothpick through the batter to encourage it to swirl. If making a large sheet cake, one color could be poured into the pan and the other could be swirled in after it. Some enterprising cakes like to pour both batters in at the same time, enlisting an assistant to swirl the cake pan underneath. Then, the cake is promptly moved into the oven, ideally with minimal jostling, and cooked as normally.
All sorts of cake pans can be used to make marble cake. Loaf cakes and bundt cakes take well to marbling, as do sheet cakes and circular cakes. The cake may be frosted or left plain, depending on personal taste, and some cooks may also choose to hide little surprises in the batter, like nuts, candied flower petals, and so forth.
There was a time when marble cake was very popular. It is not the case any more. Is it possible that we have many more choices than we once had?
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