It's been a grouchy sort of week, the kind where you are really busy but really bored because everything on your to-do list is a have-to and not a want-to; grouchy because you have a hot and steamy relationship with your cell phone and not a real life fiancee (people are suspecting he is of the George Glass variety); grouchy because your backside always hurts from the sedentary lifestyle you can't seem to shake thanks to classrooms, commutes and cubicles.
So while I continue to scramble for some joy in the chaos, I try to find bright spots spattered within the have-to's - thinking about my Mom's Cookie Monster voice (she also does the best Grover I've ever heard, especially to this book) always makes me laugh, watching Kona cock his head to the side in confusion when I laugh at his impossibly close together eyes, how Nehemiah claimed the joy of the Lord for his strength. All good, good things. But usually when I feel all scattered and antsy and I want to avoid my epic responsibilities - I make cake.
This cake is from (one of) my favorite book for sweets - Baked and I'm pretty sure I've made at least half of all the recipes from that holy grail of sugar so when I heard they were coming out with a second book in October, I nearly peed my pants with excitement. But only nearly - you see, that was over three months ago that I first heard it was coming, and I am still trying to work through the crushing disappointment I felt over not being able to have it for months and months to come. So you can imagine the sleep I lost last night when Amazon sent me a midnight e-mail telling me that the book would be released sooner than expected and I should have it by the end of the week. Squeeeeeeeal.
Save one or two mishaps that may or may not have been my fault, every recipe from Matt and Renato is twue wuv. I've had my eye on this swirled bundt cake for some time, partly because it's housed in the breakfast section of their cookbook and anybody who encourages cake for breakfast is alright in my book, and because it promises that the chocolate swirl will actually taste like chocolate - a quality I find sorely lacking in dual flavor cakes where they tend to melt together into single layer. It was one of the first recipes I wanted to try when I got the book nearly a year ago, but it calls for an entire tub of sour cream and I always seemed to have every other ingredient besides that and I'm not the sort to run to the grocery for one little thing. Well, not anymore.
The chocolate swirl certainly delivers thanks to a double whammy of melted chocolate and cocoa powder (I used black cocoa, but it's only one teaspoon so use whatever you have on hand) and it bakes into a handsome loop woven through the vanilla cake. I thought about dusting it with powdered sugar to keep it on the straight and narrow side of breakfast, but we ate it for dessert, so I didn't find any inner convictions with sloshing chocolate glaze all over it. I regret to say I don't have a recipe for the glaze since it was the most shameful, hodge-podge ganache I've ever made (I ran out of cream so I used milk instead, please don't judge).
If you have a favorite glaze recipe then by all means - use it. My apologies for not having a photo of the inside, I promise you it was lovely and swirly but I was losing daylight and when you have dinner guests, they don't quite get on board with, "We can't eat this cake because I have to photograph it first." You understand, yes?
Chocolate & Vanilla Marble Bundt Cake
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
For the chocolate swirl
6 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon unsweetened dark cocoa powder
For the sour cream cake
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
16 ounces sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Make the chocolate swirl
In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate. When the chocolate is completely smooth, add the cocoa powder and whisk until thoroughly incorporated. Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside. (I'd be lyin' if I told you I didn't do this in the microwave on 15 second intervals, but I don't want to lead you astray from the right way of living.)
Make the sour cream cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth and ribbonlike. Scrape down the bowl and add the sugar. Beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl and mix for 30 seconds.
Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, scraping down the bowl before each addition and beating only until each addition is just incorporated. Do not overmix.
Pour one third of the cake batter into the chocolate swirl mixture. Use a spatula to combine the chocolate mixture and the batter to make a smooth chocolate batter.
Spread half of the remaining plain cake batter in the prepared pan. Use an ice cream scoop to dollop the chocolate cake batter directly on top of the plain cake batter. The dollops will touch and mostly cover the plain batter, but some plain batter will peek through. Use a butter knife to swirl the chocolate and plain batter together. Pour the remaining plain batter on top of the chocolate layer and smooth it out. Once again, us the knife to pull through the layers to create a swirl.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, or until a sharp knife inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the edges of the cake and invert it onto the wire rack and let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The cake will keep for 3 days, tightly covered, at room temperature.