Marble Cake

This is yet another “stolen” recipe from my friend Phoebe. A few weeks ago, I was having a bad day. Phoebe invited me over to her apartment, located in a lovely oasis-like neighborhood in the 20th arrondissement. After climbing up some steep stairs, you encounter a few streets’ worth of cute little houses with plants and trees everywhere. Also, there are always cats running around, which is my favorite part.

Phoebe offered me some cake, still warm from the oven, and it totally hit the spot. For some reason, I have never made or craved marble cake, so I’m surprised I liked it so much. I don’t even remember why I was having a bad day anymore, so you know it’s good!

I got the recipe from her and made it a few weeks later for our end of the year choir party. I used the same substitutions as Phoebe: crème fraîche instead of cream, as well as granulated sugar sprinkled on top to form a bit of a crunchy crust. Try this! You might find a new favorite.

Marble Cake
slightly adapted from Marcy Goldman at


butter for greasing pan
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 sticks (6 oz or 170 grams) unsalted butter, softened
3 tbsp melted unsalted butter
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-process preferred)
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup crème fraîche
a tbsp or two of granulated sugar for sprinkling


1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Liberally butter an 8×4 inch loaf pan.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the baking powder and salt.
3. In a different medium bowl, combine the melted butter and cocoa powder.
4. In a food processor, combine the butter with the 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar. You might have to scrape the bowl down a few times, depending on the size of your food processor.
5. Add the eggs and the vanilla, process until all is combined and smooth.

Doesn’t this vanilla bean tube remind you of Raven’s Revenge?

6. Add the dry ingredients to the food processor and process until just combined.
7. Add the crème fraîche and process until smooth.
8. Remove one cup of the batter from the food processor and add to the cocoa mixture. Stir until smooth and combined.
9. Spoon half of the light batter into the pan. Smooth out with a butter knife or spatula.

10. Plop the chocolate batter in large globs on top of the light batter. Spread carefully with a different butter knife or spatula.

11. Plop the remaining light batter on top of the chocolate batter using the same method.

12. Create 4 or 5 swirls with a knife (doesn’t matter which one since you are now mixing them!). It’s not rocket science, just create some sort of swirling, turning pattern with the knife. Just don’t do too many swirls or you won’t have a pretty inside later. But it REALLY won’t matter because it will taste so great!

13. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over the top of the cake.
13. Bake the cake for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F (160°C) and bake for 25 minutes more. At this point, check for doneness by using a toothpick inserted into cake, and looking at the top of the cake. If moist crumbs come out on toothpick and the crust is nicely golden, remove from oven. If it’s not done enough (the crumbs are liquidy and still resemble the batter from before baking) cover with foil and bake 10-15 minutes longer.
14. Remove from oven. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto a cooling rack and let cool almost all the way, then serve warm if possible.

sweetmaddy’s notes: I accidentally overbaked the cake and left it in the pan for too long, so mine was a bit dry. To remedy it, I made a simple syrup of equal parts water and sugar that I heated in a saucepan until dissolved, along with a piece of vanilla bean that I discarded later. Then I brushed the bottom of the cake with the syrup and let it sit upside down in the pan for a few minutes. Moral of the story: FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! Be sure to do the toothpick test and remove the cake from the pan after 10 minutes.


2 thoughts on “Marble Cake

  1. I’m glad you have great friends to go to on bad days. And cake – what a bonus! I still get a little thrill whenever I marble something… I might just have to try this!

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