Wednesday, December 4, 2013

a really good marble cake

Sometimes I wish that I had a one track mind.  That would make life a whole lot easier.  

I wouldn't get distracted from my English reading with an urge to bake biscuits, I wouldn't skip dance class to make Christmas cards, I wouldn't ditch a shopping excursion to go on a run.  I would be so much more driven and focused.

There are a lot of things that interest me.  Too many to count.  I love running and reading and numbers and art and dancing and sparkly things, and writing, and obviously, baking.  Just to name a few.  I often get really frustrated with myself because I feel like I am always floundering from one thing to the next, loving all of it, but having no real direction.  At my age,  everybody wants me to have "a direction" and at the moment, I don't think that I do.  

I hope that someday I grow up and find *that one thing* that I love doing.  But for now, I am just going to keep doing the things that I love and hopefully one day my "thing" is will find me.

The more I think about it, I don't think there's anyone who truly has a one track mind -- everyone has their idiosyncratic interests that make them unique.  We're all marbled together a little bit differently.  My dad is a lawyer who loves vintage guitars and Howlin' Wolf.  My friend Courtney is a synchronized swimmer who loves singing a cappella and biology .  My boyfriend is a soccer player who loves snowboarding and playing the guitar.   None of us are perfectly fit and formulated to become one specific thing.  This is what gives each of us depth and character and beauty -- the way that our brains are imperfectly marbled together.

Marbled is fun, marbled is exciting, marbled is what makes the world go 'round.  That's what's so great about marble cake.  Sometimes I'm a vanilla person, sometimes I'm a chocolate person -- but I can have both in a beautifully imperfect mess of a cake and it is so much more delicious than either one of those flavors would be independently.

With love,


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

Stir together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.   Add the eggs one at a time.  Add the vanilla.   Add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk (beginning and ending with the flour).   Reserve 1/3 of the batter (this will be the chocolate part).

In a small bowl, mix the cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons of boiling water until smooth.  Add this mixture to the reserved cake batter (the 1/3 that you reserved for the chocolate part).  Stir until well combined.

Scoop a layer of vanilla batter into the bottom of the loaf pan, then a layer of chocolate.  Keep alternating spoonfuls of vanilla and chocolate until you have used all of the batter.  Run a table knife through the batter to create the marbled pattern.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

Cool and enjoy!

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  1. Hi Erica, I just wanted to say how much I love your blog! Your posts are always so relatable (I'm 17 and love baking!), as well as being thought-provoking and insightful; I sense a fellow English nerd! Also happy birthday from your previous post, sixteen sure is a great age to be! x Lizzie, Australia

    1. That's so much! That's so cool that you're also 17 and love baking! I would love it if you shot me an email sometime, and feel free to message me on Facebook! I love to hear from other people like myself from other parts of the world :)

  2. I absolutely loved this post! You're so spot on - if everyone was focused on one thing, and good at one thing, and wasn't complex, life would be boring. The more flavors, the better - which is totally true for this cake. Love it! Yum :) pinned.

    1. That's so perfectly put -- the more flavors the better! Thanks Rachel! :)

  3. I literally just stumbled upon your blog today while searching for a maple, cinnamon, toasted pecan recipe (thanks by the way, looks good!) and wanted to let you know that, at 30 years old, I still have multiple interests and have not yet been in that one job that has that "one thing" that I love to do. And I'm just now starting to discover that that is ok, for all the reasons you and everyone else has said.

    I think it might be because there are so many different aspects to "who we are," body, mind, heart and spirit/soul. The body craves movement; the mind craves learning, knowledge and the opportunity to actually use (or share) what it is acquiring; the heart craves love and acceptance; and the soul/spirit craves that connection to something that is bigger, or greater, than us (God/Divine/whatever you want to call it, or simply just that sense of being part of a larger community). Sometimes two or more of these things converge and there's less bouncing around between interests, other times, not so much ;-) I must have changed my college major at least 5 times and still ended up not working in the career field that I thought I wanted, and am now right back to the question I was facing during my last years of high school, "what do I want to do?" (which, for now, happens to be go to India and practice yoga--that is happening next month!) I also think that the focuses (body, mind, heart, soul) tend to change as you go through life, so the things that were your strongest interest when you're younger may hold less priority as you get older, and the other focuses may come to the front.

    So, coming from a complete stranger who is a little less than twice as old as you are, let me tell you that you have already figured out a lot more than most people have at your age, and even older (life philosophy aside, I don't think I knew how to cook anything more than scrambled eggs when I was a senior in high school, lol). Keep following whatever interests you, no matter how many times it changes, and know that you don't have to follow the standard, prescribed way of living. You only have to live in whatever way lets you best express and engage with ALL of who you are; people will come to admire and respect you for it and may even follow your lead ;-) It reminds me of a quote by Howard Thurman, "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and cooking knowledge, best of luck to you in all that comes up in your life :-)

    1. Dear Tara,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to write such an insightful comment. It really means a lot to me -- especially since at this point in my life I feel as though I am being pressured to make decisions and choices that I am not sure I am ready to make. I have a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out). I totally agree with you that there are so many different aspects to who we are as individuals. That is so exciting that you are going to India to practice yoga -- I wish you the best of luck! Yoga is (yet another...) one of my passions, and helps me stay grounded amongst all of the craziness. Thank you so much for your kind words. It means a ton. I love that quote from Howard Thurman. Your comment was so relevant to my life at the moment it almost brought me to tears (and I am reading it in the school library).
      With love,

    2. Sorry this is so late, but you are so very welcome. I feel like all that confusion is something that no one really told me about or prepared me for, and it is really confusing and can make you feel extremely lost--until you realize that it's normal and that nearly everyone goes through this, and many times throughout their lives ;-) Hope you had a good holiday and all is going well for you. :-)

    3. Thank you so much Tara! I had a lovely, relaxing holiday. I hope you did too :)

  4. Hi Erica i'm a new fan and i just had 2 slices of your delicious marble cake ,thanks a lot for sharing this great recipes with us . by the way i have your croissants dough in the fridge and going to prepare some croissant and some morning buns , can't wait to see the results , am opening a coffee shop here in Dubai and am sure everybody will love every slice of your talent , oh and by the way we tried the lemon loaf cake and the yummy messy carrot cake and they came out very nice. again thanks for sharing

    1. Dear Sara,
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I am glad you liked my marble cake, lemon loaf, and carrot cake! Let me know how the croissants come out -- you can always snap a pic and share it with me over facebook, twitter, or email! I'd love to see! Good luck with your coffee shop! That is SO exciting! I would love to stay updated on your coffee shop! I will stop by if I am ever in Dubai!