A swirly vanilla and chocolate cake made with olive oil
We admire professional bakers, and those non-professionals who have spent years perfecting their fondant skills and can transform flour, butter and eggs into edible works of art, like toilets and Chanel purses. Having tried our hand at sculpting with gum paste and molding with chocolate, we certainly recognize the talent that is behind baking and creating this way. Amazing! But, the truth is, while we can appreciate and marvel at these jaw-dropping desserts, we tend to crave the mouth-watering desserts we grew up with…and let’s be clear, our parents wouldn’t know fondant if it hit them in the face.
Our parents would probably never describe themselves as bakers, and in fact, most Greek desserts like galaktoboureko, baklava and bougatsa are not baked in the cake-type of baking we usually think of. There is no sticking a toothpick into the custard center of a galaktoboureko to see if it is done for example, and there is no worrying that opening the oven door too often will cause your baklava to fall. But, having said that, our parents do have a few more traditional cake recipes in their arsenal, amazing desserts like revani, pantespani and a wonderful lemon flavoured olive oil cake. So, although they may not consider themselves to be wonderful bakers, we sure do.
As children one of our favourite cakes was this marble cake, which in our Greek home was referred to as a vanilla cake, with chocolate. It was the cake that we would ask for on our birthdays, our namedays and when we would have new, non-Greek, friends over; this was a dessert they could relate to. In fact, it was one of these friends who first told us that this was called a marble cake. We found that to be a pretty funny, yet kind of perfect, name for a cake.
As with most of our parents’ baked goods, this cake does not contain any butter. Instead, olive oil adds the necessary fat, and contributes to making a cake which is light, moist, and delicious.
Our parents always use vanilla powder; in fact, we were both adults before we realized that vanilla extract was also a thing. If you have vanilla powder, great. If not, substitute with double the amount of vanilla extract (the flavour in the powder tends to be more concentrated).
Our parents have made this cake with whole milk, lactose free milk and skim milk; there is barely a difference in outcome so use whatever milk you have on hand.
We always thought that the marbling effect was created by running a knife through the batter in the cake pan prior to baking the cake. But, as our parents taught us, simply alternating the batter which is poured into the bundt pan is enough to give the swirly, marble effect. If you feel better running a knife through the batter however, we suppose you can.
This cake freezes really well. Allow your cake to cool and then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. When you are ready to serve, simply defrost your cake on the counter for a few hours or overnight. At this point you can sprinkle with icing sugar if desired.
Mia Kouppa: Marble cake
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup hot water
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla powder (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup milk
- 1/3 cup icing sugar, optional
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium sized bowl combine the cocoa powder, 1/2 cup of sugar and the hot water. Stir well to combine and set aside.
- In another small bowl combine the flour, baking powder, vanilla powder and salt. Whisk until well combined.
- In the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the remaining sugar (2 cups) and the eggs until well combined. Slowly pour in the olive oil and continue to mix.
- With the speed set to low, carefully add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the oil/egg/sugar combination in the stand mixer. Beat until well combined. Pour in 1/2 cup of milk. Continue beating and then add the remaining flour, followed by the remaining milk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula and then beat well for a minute until all of the ingredients are well combined.
- Remove approximately 3 cups of this cake batter and add it to the bowl which contains the cocoa powder, sugar and water. Using a whisk mix it well by hand so that all of the plain batter is combined with the cocoa batter.
- Grease a bundt pan. Pour enough of the plain batter into the pan to cover the bottom surface. Then, using a large spoon, drop spoonfuls of the cocoa batter on top of the plain batter. Leave approximately 1/3 of the cocoa batter in the bowl.
- Pour the remaining vanilla batter into the bundt pan, and then pour in the rest of the cocoa batter.
- Bake in the middle rack of your oven for 50 – 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool in the bundt pan for approximately 5 minutes before removing it. Set it to cool on a baking rack.
- When your cake has completely cooled, dust it with icing sugar. Enjoy!