Sometimes I just want to let my memories guide my baking inspiration. For that reason I felt a compelling urge to bake a marble cake. Marble cake is a children classic, at least, judging from my experience, in many European countries. It comes in many different forms and variations but the main division is between home -made, or better mom-made, and commercial version (this version is strangely loved by students :-)). I can't really remember marble cake being baked in our home, except maybe a few times as me and my brother Marcello begun experimenting with baking. Our mom and dad usually went for something a bit more structured when it came to baking sweets, probably marble cake was just too simple. Still I couldn't remove this cake from my memories even if I wanted: loads and loads of birthday party marble cakes are responsible for that. I found a nice "grown up" version of the cake in the Italian version (published by Bibliotheca culinaria) of this French book from Marabout. I just had to try it.
180 g (6.3 oz) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
170 g (6 oz) confectioner's sugar
2 Tbs milk
150 g (5.3 oz) butter, melted
2 Tbs cocoa powder, Dutch process
75 g (2.6 oz) grated bitter chocolate
50 g (1.8 oz) sliced almonds
I beat eggs and sugar till foamy and doubled in volume. I then added the flour, slowly, butter and baking powder last, mixing shortly. I then divided the batter in two. In on half went the almonds. In the other the grated chocolate and cocoa (made into a paste with the milk). I poured alternated layers of the two batters in a buttered and floured tin loaf. To give the marbled effect I used a thin long knife, twirling it in the batter. The cake went into a 180C/350F pre-heated oven for 50 min, till the classical toothpick test told me it was done.
The cake came out great. It rose evenly, not "mushrooming" as often happens to my cakes. Really moist, I guess from all the healthy ;-) butter. The bitter chocolate gave it that "grown up" touch that allowed me to enjoy this childish pleasure without actually feeling childish :-). The only minor disappointment were the almonds. They gave some crunch but the flavour was hardly noticeable. Next time I'll probably either toast them before or substitute a part with marzipan. BTW the "little one" liked it too, although he seemed to go more for the chocolate bits :-).