Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Recipe: Marble Butter Cake

This is one of the first recipes I learnt, when I was just 6. I have fond memories of a family friend making it in Cameron Highlands (we were on holiday but she decided it wasn't a holiday without a freshly-baked cake straight hot out of the oven, pretty insightful for a girl of just 14).

She'd shopped the area's meagre shops for ingredients and wheedled some equipment from the kitchen. I was the little kid, so when it came to filling the cake tin, she let me drop alternating spoonfuls of the plain and chocolate batter into the pan. That and the versatility of this recipe- it can be made plain or flavoured with coffee or orange rind, are what I've always liked about this recipe.

250g butter unsalted
225g sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence or seeds from a vanilla pod
225g + 2 Tbsp self-raising flour
3 Tbsp dark cocoa (prefably dutch processed Valronha 72%)
1 Tbsp brandy

1. Preheat your oven to 170C degrees and line a round cake pan (I like the easy slicing of a loaf tin, so that's what I use).
2. This is a classic creaming recipe, meaning that you cream butter and sugar together in an egg beater, until it is light, pale and fluffy. For this recipe, you would want to use a good quality butter as it is a main ingredient.
3. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the seeds from one vanilla pod or a tsp of vanilla essence.
4. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into the mixture.
5. Pour in the brandy and mix quickly. You may be tempted to skip the brandy, especially if there are children eating the cake but don't! The alcohol burns off, leaving a beautiful nutty, savory-moist crumbly texture to your cake.
6. If you are making a plain cake, you can bake it as is. If not, then add the flavouring, like 3 heaped Tbsp of grated orange rind. For marble cake, seperate a third of the batter and mix it through with dark cocoa powder. Then, drop spoonfuls of the cocoa and plain batter alternately in the cake pan. If you are a purist, run a chopstick through the length of the pan to "marble" the colours, or if you like a cow-coloured marble cake like mine, then don't!
7. Bake at 170 degrees for 45 min. If the top of your cake is cooked, cover it with some alumninium foil (so that it stays tender, rather than burnt) and continue with the rest of the cooking time. Turn the cake out after cooling and serve warm for tea with milk or coffee!

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