Birthday Cake the German Way: Marmorkuchen (Marble Cake)

I've been trying to scale back my purchases of specialty bakeware because I'm running out of places to store it. But since I've been baking a lot from Luisa Weiss's Classic German Baking and found a Kugelhopf pan on sale from King Arthur Flour, I couldn't resist. I still haven't made Weiss's Gugelhupf recipe yet, but I broke in the pan by making her "Marmorkuchen (Marble Cake)."

Weiss says that marble cakes are commonly served at children's birthday parties in Germany and that this one is a family recipe from her assistant. She recommends baking it in a Gugelhupf pan so that it "rises up to great heights, making for satisfying big slices," although you can bake it in a regular Bundt pan as well.

The two types of batter in this cake are flavored with white chocolate and bittersweet chocolate, so the first step in the recipe is to melt both of the chocolates (separately, of course) and set them aside. I used Scharffen Berger 62% for the bittersweet and Cacao Barry Zéphyr Caramel for the white. To make the batter, you cream softened high-fat butter with sugar and salt until light and fluffy; add vanilla and eggs; and incorporate the flour and baking powder. You take two thirds of the batter and mix it with the melted white chocolate to make the vanilla batter. Then you take the remaining batter and mix it with the melted bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder, and milk to make the chocolate cake batter.

You scrape put half of the vanilla batter into a greased Bundt pan, layer on the chocolate batter, and top it off with the remaining vanilla batter. Then you swirl the batters together and bake. The first time I made this cake I made two serious errors. First, I screwed up the chocolate batter. I added the cocoa powder and cold milk to my melted bittersweet chocolate and the chocolate seized up badly. I mixed it with the cake batter anyway and you could see lumps of chocolate in the batter that were visible in the baked cake as well. The second error was burning the cake. The recipe says to bake it for an hour, and by that time, the top of the cake was badly singed.  Still, the cake tasted really good and my tasters were big fans.
I made the cake a second time the following day and fixed both problems. I added the cocoa powder and milk to the cake batter before adding the melted chocolate and I ended up with a perfectly smooth chocolate batter. The cake rose higher and the batter looked completely uniform in the finished product (as you can see in the photo above). I also took the cake out of the oven after 45 minutes and while it had a thick crust, it was not burned. The second cake was better than the first -- in large part simply because it wasn't overcooked and it was more moist. But this is a really delicious cake. The vanilla half tastes as good as the chocolate half, and the thick, substantial crust is really flavorful.

While I like the appearance of the cake baked in the Kugelhopf pan, it's not very practical (at least for the particular pan I used from Nordic Ware) -- it's difficult to cut it into anything other than 12 slices, and that makes the serving size unreasonably large. Then again, my tasters didn't mind!

Recipe: "Marmorkuchen (Marble Cake)" from Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss, recipe available here at Dinner: a Love Story.

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Louise said…
This looks and sounds like a cake my husband will love. And, I own a Kugelhopf pan, so that's a plus. We don't have any birthdays coming up, but I'm sure I can find an excuse -- after rhubarb season.