There really isn’t a way to lose.
This cake is dense yet tender in the crumb and manages to be moist yet sturdy. The light batter is fragrant with vanilla and butter, the dark batter is rich and dense with dark chocolate. I think it’s key not to go too crazy with the marbling, so you can taste the two distinct flavors–just a few swirls with a knife or a toothpick through the batter give you just enough marble, leaving you with dedicated sections of vanilla and chocolate cake. This cake has the character of a pound cake–it’s dense and rests well, getting even better the 2nd and 3rd day. It’s totally the kind of cake to have around for impromptu coffee dates and, I have a hunch, would probably ship well–a theory I plan to test this holiday season.
Adapted from Baking: from My Home to Yours
The original recipe calls for a little less butter, but I was being a bit of a space-cadet and just chucked two whole sticks of butter into my mixer–the batter was made before I realized my mistake, but the cake definitely didn’t suffer from the extra butter. I used an 80% dark chocolate bar–this made for a super-dense and rich chocolate batter–use a good quality chocolate, whatever is your fave will work great.
2 cups, plus 2 Tablespooons, all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter (8 ounces), room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1/2 cup milk
4 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 325*F. Grease and line a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with parchment, place the pan on top of a sheet pan. Set aside.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
Working with a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat another 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. The batter may look curdled at this point, but that is okay. Scrape the bowl and beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Reduce speed to low and alternately add flour and milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Place 1/2 of the batter in a separate bowl and fold in the melted chocolate so you have a vanilla batter and a chocolate batter.
Alternately drop spoonfuls of batter into the loaf pan until the pan is filled with the batter and plunge a butter knife into the batter, making a zig-zag pattern from one end of the pan to the other. Do this only once for a perfectly marbled batter. Bake in the center of the oven for 40 minutes uncovered. Cover loosely with foil and continue to bake another 30-40 minutes, until the vanilla batter on top is golden brown, the top is cracked, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before turning out and cooling completely. Wrap cool cake well with plastic. Can be kept, wrapped well, at room temperature for several days.