The idea of marbling two different colored batters into a cake originated in nineteenth century Germany. Marble cakes made their way to America with German immigrants before the Civil War. Originally the cakes were marbled with molasses and spices. One of the first recorded recipes for marble cake appears in an American cookbook called Aunt Babette’s Cook Book: Foreign and Domestic Receipts for the Household, published in 1889. This recipe replaced the traditional molasses and spice batter by marbling chocolate into the cake, a reflection of a new American obsession with chocolate. The cake remained popular throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. According to the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food by Gil Marks, “Many Jewish bakeries in the New York area in the 1950’s through the 1970’s would distinctively add a small amount of almond extract to the chocolate marble cake, creating a version sometimes referred to as a ‘German Marble Cake’ that had a characteristic almond aroma.”
Here is my recipe for marble cake, which has become a family favorite over the past few years. I flavor my marble cake with almond extract as a nod to the classic German Jewish recipes. In a slightly modern twist, I also add dry instant vanilla pudding mix to my batter. This little trick is a fantastic way to add moisture and flavor to your cakes; it also helps to thicken the batter, which provides the perfect texture for marbling. Be sure to use instant pudding mix, not cook-and-serve; just sift it in dry with the flour. It creates a wonderful texture and locks in moisture so the cake doesn’t dry out as quickly. It also gives a lovely vanilla essence to the batter, which blends nicely with the almond extract. They certainly weren’t doing it this way in Germany 150 years ago, but sometimes it’s fun to improve on tradition. Try it!
For instructions on how to marble a cake, click here.
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- 1 1/4 cup cake flour
- 1/2 cup dry instant vanilla pudding mix (about one small 3.4 oz package)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 3/4 cup milk, room temperature
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup very hot water
You will also need
- 8- or 9-inch loaf pan or dish, electric mixer, three mixing bowls (large, medium, small), whisk
- Note: be sure that the pudding mix you choose is instant and that you only use 1/2 cup of the mix, otherwise the batter will not thicken and marble properly.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the cake flour, vanilla pudding mix (in dry powdered form), baking powder, and salt.
- In a larger mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whip together the butter, sugar, eggs and almond extract for a few minutes till the mixture turns light yellow.
- Beat in half of the milk and half of the sifted flour mixture, then beat in the remaining milk and flour mixture. Whip until the batter is smooth and creamy.
- Rinse and dry the medium mixing bowl that you used for the sifted flour; you’ll need it again soon. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and 1/3 cup of very hot water till smooth.
- Pour a little less than half of the cake batter into the medium mixing bowl that you rinsed out. Whisk in the cocoa powder/water mixture till fully combined and smooth. This is your chocolate marbling batter.
- Reserve the rest of the batter—this is your light cake marbling batter.
- Generously grease your loaf pan using butter or cooking spray. Pour the light and dark cake batters into your loaf pan and marble them. If you don't know how, check out this post with printable instructions: How to Marble a Cake
- Bake the marble cake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes.
- Carefully remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely on the rack.
- This cake will keep at room temperature for 3-4 days; wrap in plastic wrap or foil to seal in the moisture.
Other Great Recipe Ideas
Pass the Sushi: Caramel Frosted Zucchini Bread
Eat the Love: Chai Chocolate Orange Marbled Brioche Loaf
Brown Eyed Baker: Buttermilk-Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake
Two Peas and Their Pod: Blueberry Lemon Loaf Cake