Marble cake and molasses

December 7, 2010

Molasses and cake. Sometimes I like to imagine myself being made of molasses and cake, just for kicks. It would be a messy business, certainly, and a little off-putting to those unfamiliar with molasses cake monsters, but I believe my happiness would reach levels I had never imagined. For now, though, I’ll just have to be content with stuffing myself full of both molasses, and cake.

Mixin' and marblin' molasses

I was lucky to find this recipe, killing two birds with one stone.

Now for the not so whimsical part of the post; I can’t marble a cake worth a darn. This is my third attempt at cake marbling, and as you can see from the pictures, my skills have not increased. I swear, I imitated the videos online perfectly, and poured over marbling techniques for a good part of the day before attempting the cake. My roommate gave me a piece of advice, to let the batter chill a little bit before marbling. This was after the cake came out of the oven. Next time I’ll heed her advice, but for now I can just sit back and be satisfied with the knowledge that people loved this cake. It was definitely a crowd pleaser, even for those who thought molasses as an ingredient can be overwhelming.

Molasses Marble Loaf

It's supposed to be marbled (hanging head in shame).

(Adapted from Baking in America, by Greg Patent)

Bake this in a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (or 1 whole stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2/3 cup milk (I used rice milk, and it came out wonderfully)

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon allspice (or 1 teaspoon equal parts cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and move an oven rack to the lower third of the oven. Prepare a loaf pan with butter and flour. I would also suggest lining the bottom with parchment paper, because mine burnt a little on the bottom.

2. Sift the flour, then resift it with the baking powder and salt, in a bowl just large enough to hold the flour. Set the bowl aside.

3. In a bowl big enough to fit all the batter, beat the butter until smooth. If you are using a kitchen aid mixer with the paddle attachment, this should take a minute or two.

4. Add the sugar gradually, about ¼ cup at a time, beating the mixture for 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape the bottom of the bowl regularly to make sure all the sugar is being incorporated. Beat in the vanilla, do one last scraping, and then beat at a higher speed setting for five minutes.

5. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating the batter between additions.

6. On low speed, add the flour in three batches, alternating it with the milk. Make sure to start and end with the flour mixture and beat only until the batter is smooth between additions.

7. Take one third of the total batter, and put it in a small bowl. Add the molasses and spices, then mix until combined, or until the color is uniform. (This step was my favorite, the color and aroma are beautiful.)

8. You’re going to marble the cake in the pan, which still remains a daunting task for me. The author says to alternate scoops of batter in the pan, until all the batter from each bowl is used, and then run a butter knife through the “length and width of the batter a few times”. I plopped the non-spice batter at each end, then alternated with the spice batter in the middle, but I ended up having a few pieces with no marble, go figure. I would suggest following his directions, just plopping batter alternatively until you run out, making sure to use enough with each “plop” so you don’t have to put batter on top, in the event you have more batter even when the bottom of your loaf pan is full.

9. Bake for 50 minutes, but keep an eye on it after 45 minutes, and take it out of the oven when it tests done, with the knife inserted in the middle only retaining a few crumbs. The loaf with brown nicely, but be careful so it doesn’t burn.

10. Cool the loaf in the pan for a half hour. Invert it over a wire rack, or platter, carefully turning it right side up to cool thoroughly.

This cake keeps in an airtight container, not refrigerated, for about two days. On the third day, the cake became kind of stale. Certainly edible, but stale.

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