“Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. It’s all about the memories.” Buddy Valastro
Spending a couple of days in my native Hungary, I have started to look through some of my family’s old recipes. Amongst many other jewels, I have found marble cake that was a simple but still festive looking treat from my Swabian grandmother’s wood-fired oven. Though hardly ever the star of the show, a good, moist marble cake is a great addition to an ordinary afternoon coffee. The idea of marbling two different colored batters into a cake originated in nineteenth century Germany. Marble cake made its way to America with the German immigrants before the Civil War. Originally the cakes were marbled with molasses and spices. Interestingly, my other grandmother, who was Jewish also owned a version of this recipe. The first recorded Jewish recipe for a marble cake appeared in an American cookbook called “Aunt Babette’s Cook Book: Foreign and Domestic Receipts for the Household,” published in 1889. This recipe replaced the molasses and spice combination by marbling chocolate into the cake, a reflection of the American obsession with chocolate. 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.” It is truly divine.
“A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece.” Ludwig Erhard
225 g butter, softened
225 g caster sugar
175 g self-raising flour
60 g ground almonds
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp hazelnut extract
5 tbsp roasted, chopped hazelnut
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Heat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a cake tin and line the bottom with flour. Beat the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Fold through the ground almond, flour, milk and almond and hazelnut extract until the mixture is smooth.
Divide the mixture between two bowls. Stir the cocoa powder into the mixture in one of the bowls. Stir the hazelnuts into the other bowl of mixture. Take two spoons and use them to dollop the chocolate and hazelnut cake mixes into the tin alternately. When all the mixture has been used up, tap the bottom on the work surface to ensure that there aren’t any air bubbles. Take a skewer and swirl it around the mixture in the tin a few times to create a marbled effect.
Bake the cake for 45-55 mins until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool. Decorate it with white chocolate or sugar glaze and chopped nuts. It will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container.
“The real me now may not be thin but she’s got the cake and, if she likes, can eat it too.” Arabella Weir