Yes, I've been writing depressing posts about feeling overwhelmed. But things seem to be looking up, and I seem to have time to do my own baking again. This cake was one step on that road.
It was Thursday afternoon. I was home from school, and I promised myself that if I could finish my editing, I could bake a cake. I'm sure I could have caught up on my cleaning or volunteer work or one of the many administrative tasks I need to do, but I really wanted to turn butter and sugar and flour into something beautiful. Some people want Calgon to take them away, but for me that would just involve scrubbing the bathtub. Spice cake, take me away!
This cake turned out to be a fun and absorbing task. There are two separate batters that I made with two separate processes--traditional creaming and reverse creaming--just as an experiment. I halved the recipe because I didn't think we had anyone to foist cake on.
The reverse creaming was a good idea--one I had after I made the Kentucky cake, I believe. The cake batters used here are in fact quite similar to that cake. The light batter has butter and egg whites, and I haven't had luck folding egg whites into a heavy butter cake batter. This worked great and had a very nice crumb.
The cake did, in fact, do everything I wanted it to--it was fun, it worked the way I wanted it to, it made the house smell great, and it tasted really good.
The one thing about this cake is that you need to warn people about to eat it that it is not in fact a chocolate marble cake. I know I would be disappointed if I bit into a spice cake that was supposed to be chocolate cake. And it might be fun to have raisins in the spice part.
Here's the recipe. Make it if you need a break or a project or just a delicious spice cake. I'm giving the full ingredient list for a tube pan but giving my instructions for the white layer. If you halve the recipe, you'll have enough for a loaf cake.
Marbleized Spice Cake
2-1/2 c. (8.75 oz.) sifted cake flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. (7 oz.) sugar
3/4 c. (6 oz.) milk
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. almond extract
4 egg whites (you'll need the yolks for the dark batter)
1/2 c. (4 oz.) butter, room temperature (this is important: reverse creaming doesn't work with cold butter)
Heat the oven to 350. Grease a large tube pan and dust with bread crumbs, ground nuts, or cocoa powder.
In the large bowl of an electric (stand) mixer, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar for 30 seconds to mix. In a measuring cup, whisk together the milk, vanilla, almond extract, and egg whites. Add all the butter and about half the liquid to the flour mixture. Beat first at low speed (flour will fly!) and then at medium speed for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add the remaining liquid ingredients in two additions, beating about a minute after each one and scraping down the bowl in between. The batter should be light and fluffy. Let that sit while you make the dark batter:
1/2 c. (4 oz.) butter, room temperature
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 t. salt
1 T. cocoa powder
1 t. powdered instant coffee
1 c. (7 oz.) brown sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 c. (5 oz.) molasses
2 c. (7 oz.) sifted cake flour
1 c. (8 oz.) plain yogurt
In a large bowl using a hand mixture, cream together the butter, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, cocoa powder, and coffee until light and fluffy. Gradually add the brown sugar and beat another minute or two until the color has lightened a bit. Add the egg yolks all at once along with the molasses and again beat until smooth and a bit lighter in color. On low speed add the flour in three additions alternately with the yogurt in two additions. Now you're ready to marbleize.
Put a few large spoonfuls of dark batter in the bottom of the cake pan. Put a few spoonfuls of light batter in any spaces between the dark batter. Continue to layer on the cake batter until it's gone (I had about three layers). Give the pan a bit of a shake or a twist to settle it.
Bake the cake for about an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes before unmolding onto a rack. Let cool completely before slicing. And remember to tell people it's a spice cake!