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Yummy Marbled Pound Cake

This image courtesy of Mark Ferri

This is my favorite pound cake. Light and tender, it has a crisp crust that’s deliberately thick, created by baking it in an oven that’s initially a bit hotter than usual. This creates a pound cake with an almost candied exterior, especially when fresh-baked. I add some dried buttermilk to the cake, which adds a wonderful, albeit subtle, dimension to the overall flavor. I suggest making several batches of the dry mixture in advance and storing them in separate sealed plastic bags. That way, it’s really a breeze to pull this cake together.

Serves9 × 5-inch loaf

Cooking MethodBaking

CostModerate

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe CourseDessert, Snack

Dietary ConsiderationHalal, Kosher, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegetarian

EquipmentElectric Mixer, Microwave

MealBreakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Snack, Tea

Taste and TextureButtery, Chocolatey, Crisp, Light, Sweet

Type of DishCake, Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter for brushing
  • 1 2/3 cups plus 1 generous tablespoon whisked cake flour (whisk, don’t sift, before measuring)
  • 2 rounded tablespoons (one 0.8-ounce packet) dried buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ rounded teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 extra large eggs, made tepid by submerging in a bowl of very hot tap water for 10 minutes
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons minced lemon or orange zest (optional)
  • Confectioners sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the interior of a 9 × 5-inch loaf pan with the melted butter, then sprinkle the greased surface with 1 generous tablespoon of cake flour. Tilt the pan to coat it with flour, then knock out any excess.

  2. Whisk together the remaining 1 2/3 cups of cake flour with the dried buttermilk, baking powder, and salt and sift this into another bowl. Melt the chocolate either in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water or in a microwave on high power for 1 minute, stirring until smooth. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a handheld mixer, cream the softened butter until lightened. Add the sugar in increments, beating well after each addition. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup (or other vessel with a spout), beat the eggs with the vanilla and zest, if using. Drizzle the eggs into the creamed butter mixture a little at a time, allowing each addition to be fully incorporated before adding the next. When done, the mixture should be very light. Stop the machine and, using a large rubber spatula, scrape the butter down from the sides and up from the bottom. Beat briefly. Stop the machine and add a heaping ½ cup of the flour mixture. Turn the machine to low, then up to medium and mix until the flour is almost totally incorporated. Continue to stop the machine, add another scoop of the flour mixture, and beat again until almost combined. After adding all the dry ingredients, beat the batter, still on medium speed, for 30 to 40 seconds, or until very smooth and silky looking. Scrape half the batter into another bowl and add the melted chocolate to the first bowl, folding it in until homogenous.

  3. Pour and spread half of the plain cake batter into the prepared loaf pan, then do the same with half of the chocolate batter. Repeat this with the plain batter and then the rest of the chocolate batter, creating four layers in all. Beginning at one end of the loaf, drag a plain table knife through the batter, going up and down in a soft sweeping swirling motion, making loops at the top and then at the bottom while traveling to the opposite end of the loaf pan. (Don’t overdo this, however, or you’ll actually lose your marbled design.) When done, pull the knife blade straight up and out of the batter, and gently smooth the top using a short metal spreader. Place the pan in the center of the oven and reduce the temperature to 325°F. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean and the cake is golden. Place the pan on a wire rack and carefully run a knife around the sides of the pan. Turn the cake out of the pan and let it cool on the rack. Just before serving, dust the top with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, and cut into thick slices.

Plain Pound Cake

Prepare the batter as directed, omitting the chocolate. Add the entire batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 65 minutes (about 5 minutes less than you would a marbled pound cake). Cool and serve as previously described.

Timing is Everything

If you love pound cake (and who doesn’t?), why not keep several sealed bags of the dry mixture in your pantry? That way it’s much quicker to get this cake into the oven.

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