Friday, May 6, 2011

MATCHA CHOCOLATE MARBLE CAKE

INDULGENCE


My father’s marble cakes stand out in my memory, nestled between images of him, dressed in white t-shirt and Bermuda shorts, his body immersed under the hood of a car, tinkering with an engine, or scratching at the sandy Florida dirt with a rusty rake at the side of the house, coaxing up his precious plants which would eventually bear an abundant crop of splotchy tomatoes.


Watching him measure, stir, pour, marble with a passion and artistry rarely seen in any of his other activities which he always approached with a clean, calculating engineer’s precision and emotional distance, baking brought out a creative side of him that I adored. His every movement mesmerized me. The cake, beautifully marbled, moist, delicate, bursting with chocolaty flavor mellowed by the touch of vanilla was the epitome of perfecion for me and required no adornment or fancy trimmings, needed nothing more than a fork to reach utter ecstasy. My dad’s cakes may have come from boxed mixes but oh how he could perform magic from such mundane, humble origins, confections infused with love and homemade goodness that wiped away all traces of the common. He served up each carefully sliced square with pride and from a very early age I understood what utter pleasure could be derived from baking for those one loves.


And since that time, I have been baking. I prepare ethereal choux puffs from his recipe, puddings thick and luxurious, just as he loved them, and cakes galore, sponge and Bundt and dense layers sandwiching sweet, chocolaty frosting. Yet the perfect marbling, his special pride and joy, eluded me. Time and time again I tried, oh yes I did, measuring, stirring, pouring as he did, albeit with from-scratch batter, splotching chocolate atop vanilla, yet the movement of my knife cutting through the creamy thickness of dark and light created nothing better than idle banter and frustration, goopy trails of ill-defined black masses trapped in white. I attempted over and over again, I tried different methods, changed knives for finer, ever sharper points, carefully controlled my movements, worked gently, slowly, concentrated and precise. Even conjuring up memories of dad, invoking his spirit, begging the baking gods to inspire me did nothing towards answering my prayers for producing spectacular, well-defined, graceful swirls of color.

Until now. A gift of Chah Matcha Green Tea Powder from my friend Arthi filled me once again with the desire to follow in dear old dad’s footsteps. My imagination swam with images of gorgeous swirls of dark chocolate and pale green, my tastebuds tingled with the thought of chocolate mingling with the delicate sweetness of vanilla and matcha, and the memory of moist, tender mouthfuls of my father’s marble cake urged me back into the kitchen with yet another recipe to try just one more time.

Matcha and Chocolate Marble Loaf Cake, a stunning work of art both visually and for the palate, I worked from a recipe by Chef Marcy Goldman published on the Food & Wine website and, with the patience and intense concentration of an engineer and surely my father’s ghost hovering just beside me, peering over my shoulder and guiding me gently yet persistently as he always did, I finally achieved the joy, the magic that I experienced all those long years ago as I kept him company in the kitchen as he himself baked.


I inherited my sweet tooth from my parents. A passion for chocolate is in our blood. Good old fashioned Hershey’s Kisses or perfect discs of Nonperiels studded with tiny white pearl candies, Tootsie Rolls and candy bars of every ilk hidden away from tiny hands in the back of the freezer fed my childhood along with dad’s Tunnel of Fudge Bundts, Chocolate Cakes and bowls of chocolate pudding topped with mounds of whipped cream. Thick slabs of icy chocolate cream pie added the perfect finishing touch to family outings at one of a handful of favorite restaurants. And each and every one of these chocolaty treats, these childhood memories feed my passion for creating and recreating chocolate confections of every sort in my own kitchen for my own family. And I keep myself surrounded by chocolates, from the store-bought treats from my youth that I collect like precious coins and rare stamps on each trip home, hidden from my own children, as my mother before me, in a secret drawer. Or handcrafted, artisan chocolates from one or two master chocolatiers here in Nantes.

Do I really need to once again vaunt the pleasures of chocolate? Bold and bitter or smooth and sweet, crunchy, crispy, light or dark, rich and luxurious, chocolate has the power to seduce, to inspire, to pull us into a dark, almost spiritual realm. Chocolate, that most mysterious of foods, both soothing and exciting, sinful yet heavenly, comforting and decadent. Chocolate, an object worshipped by many, chocolate in a hundred dazzling ways, able to bring the strongest to their knees, seduce a lover, a source of intense craving that no substitute can appease. Chocolate, food of the gods or food of the devil? Surrounded as I am by French chocolatiers, why need I look any further than my own backyard when the craving hits, one might ask? Well, if you have ever tasted Hotel Chocolat chocolates you will answer your own question. The very kind people of Hotel Chocolat have spoiled me with chocolate delights of every kind and by some miraculous glitch of a computer (who ever said that every technological glitch is bad?) I received not only a giant Milk Chocolate Ostrich Egg for Easter but the stunning Chocolatier’s Table as well, an utterly impressive spread designed to give you a taste of every type of their high-quality, artisan chocolate! From dreamy ganaches to nutty pralines and zingy fruity confections, milk, white and dark, Hotel Chocolat creates an amazing array of spectacular chocolates for every mood, every desire, every taste and for even the most discriminating palate. They also create the absolute best, most indulgent treats for each and every holiday, the perfect gift for anyone on your list. Just take a stroll through their on-line boutique and you, too, will know where to turn to satisfy your chocolate sweet tooth.


And I am proud and thrilled to announce that Hotel Chocolat is one of the generous sponsors of From Plate to Page which I am hosting with Ilva, Jeanne and Meeta this month in Weimar, Germany. Hotel Chocolat will be offering a special decadent, indulgent, surprising gift to each participant, helping make our workshop a truly delicious experience!


MATCHA AND CHOCOLATE MARBLE LOAF CAKE
Based on a recipe by Chef Marcy Goldman on Food & Wine. The marble cake can be made without the addition of Matcha tea powder if you like, but boy is this a fabulous way to use Matcha! And the results are both beautiful and delicious!

2 cups (280 g) flour
2 tsps baking powder
¼ tsp salt
12 Tbs (3/4 cup/175 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature +
3 Tbs (45 g) unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups (270 g) sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup (125 ml) whole milk
1 ½ tsp Matcha tea powder

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter an 8 x 4 inch (about 20 ½ x 10 cm) loaf pan. Cut a long strip of parchment paper the width of the pan and long enough to line the bottom of the pan as well as up the two narrow sides and press neatly into the pan.

Stir or whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk the melted butter into the cocoa powder in a small bowl until completely blended and smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter and the sugar until blended and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, just until blended. Beat in the vanilla.

Beat the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar in 3 additions alternating with the milk added in two, beating in each addition just until blended and smooth and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Scoop out 1 cup of the batter and put into a small bowl. Stir the cocoa paste into the batter until well blended and smooth. Stir the Matcha tea powder into the remaining vanilla batter.

Spoon half of the Matcha batter into the bottom of the prepared loaf pan, smoothing it evenly in the pan all the way to the edges and into the corners. Plop tablespoons of the chocolate batter down the center of the pan on top of the Matcha batter then spoon the rest of the Match batter on top, gently smoothing the surface of the batter to mostly cover the chocolate but trying not to blend the two batters too much.

Using a clean, sharp knife with a narrow blade, make about 5 deep and cleaning swirls through the batter to create the marble effect.

Bake the Loaf Cake in the preheated oven at 350°F (180°C) for 25 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F (160°C) and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Loosely cover the top of the cake with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until just set in the center and a tester stuck deeply into the cake comes out clean.


Remove the cake from the oven (remove the foil) and allow to cool for 10 or 15 minutes until the pan is cool enough to handle. Loosen the edges of the cake from the sides of the pan with a sharp knife then lift or turn the cake out of the pan. Gently peel off the parchment paper, flip upright and allow the cake to cool completely before serving.

47 comments:

RecipeGirl said...

gotta love a chocolate swirly cake- yum! I have not yet experimented with Matcha- need to resolve that!

chefpandita.com said...

Beautiful marbled cake, Jamie! Like I said yesterday, matcha and chocolate are my fav flavors. So nice to read about your dad's baking. My dad is the best cook but he never baked anything... That's ok because his paella is the best I've ever had :) Happy Friday!

Velva said...

Jaime, I can't think of any food that would taste better than a cake or a dish, that triggers fond memories. Love the marble cake-

I hopped over to visit your blog because I saw the comment that you left on Girli Chef's blog about the coconuts. I was born and raised in Miami Beach and I cannot tell you the number of coconuts we pulled out of the local canals :-) Did I mention we managed a few pineapples too?

Cheers.
Velva

Ken│hungry rabbit said...

I'm glad you discovered the divine flavors of matcha. This marble cake is screaming my name and I look forward to Weimar for my surprise.

girlichef said...

This looks amazing. I have been wanting to find some Matcha to work with for quite some time now...I would love a slice of this. Those chocolates are gorgeous, what a wonderful sponsor.

Lael Hazan @educatedpalate said...

A fascinating combination that makes me want cake early in the morning! I love your description of your father and his baking. I realize that I can't think of a time when my father baked anything. What a fabulous memory. I also am thrilled with your "mash up" of flavor.
In the words of Oliver, "more please".

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What lovely memories of your father baking cakes! Yours looks so divine. A great flavor combo.

Oh, I would love to taste and write about Hotel Chocolates...

Cheers,

Rosa

Barbara Bakes said...

A gorgeous cake. So much more fun than just chocolate or vanilla. That is an impressive box of chocolates!

A Canadian Foodie said...

What a tribute to your dad. Beautiful photos and a great read... love the crackly top, too.
The Eat Alberta Conference I have been swallowed by happened last Saturday and was a resounding success... thankfully, I am now back to writing and reading. I have missed your fine work and inspiration more than I even knew.
:)
Valerie

pigpigscorner said...

Great looking cake! Passion for choc is in my blood too, great combo!

Emma said...

Hotel Chocolat AND a lovely marbled cake, how very delightful! That is indeed quite a treat from Hotel Chocolat, I've until now satisfied my cravings by buying one or two of their bars and ogling the rest in-store.

The chocolate ostrich egg was one of those ogled a month or two back. How was it?

Heavenly Housewife said...

I must admit, I've never been able to get myself to like the taste of matcha, but it certainly adds beautiful colour to deserts. That marble cake really looks pretty!
*kisses* HH
p.s. Happy Mother's Day

Jamie said...

@Emma: The Ostrich Egg is fabulous! Mostly cause I chose all milk chocolate and I love their milk chocolate.

@chefpandita: Yep for the matcha and chocolate. This is the beginning of a very long love affair! Looking forward to sharing your recipes!

@Velva: Welcome to my blog! We would've loved to be able to gather coconuts more often! And mmm pineapple was a rare treat and usually from a can!

@RecipeGirl: ooh get thee some matcha!

@Ken: You will flip when you see the gift. And CANNOT wait to hug you in person!

@girlichef: Oh do try and find some match. It is so hard to find here! Mine was a gift and I am thrilled!

@Lael Hazan: Oh cake is a definite must in the morning... all day, in fact. And this is a fab recipe for the girls!

@RosasYummyYums: ;-)

@BarbaraBakes: Thanks my dear. And now if you were closer I'd share with you...

@A Canadian Foodie: Have I told you how wonderful you are? You are! Your words mean the world to me. When will we meet?

@pigpigscorner: ah chocolate, yes, indeed....

Eliana said...

Marble cakes are so gorgeous to look at and a delight to eat. This one looks so different. I love it and all of it's wonderful flavors.

Lick My Spoon said...

I love foods and bakes goods taht evoke such string and sweet memories of family and times gone. I have never tried matcha btu I love a goold old marble cake. Soemtimes it's the simplest things that give the most pleasure.

Lisa said...

I LOVE matcha in desserts, and if it weren't for the blogosphere, I might of thought green tea ice cream and mochi was where it ended! Jamie, it looks beautiful, love the perfect chocolate swirl in the green.

I saw a pistachio-chocolate-vanilla pound cake that looked similar to this, but the blogger wouldn't give me the recipe. I think I'm going to try yours, using the matcha, but keeping a third of the batter vanilla :)

Nina said...

Jamie, what a gorgeous marble cake! Your swirls are perfect! Love the use of matcha--took me a while to warm up to flavor, but love it now! Bon weekend, xo

Julia @Mélanger said...

You are so lucky to have such wonderful memories of your father baking cakes.

I do love a marble cake, and this combination is surely great!!! Anything with chocolate has my vote! :)

California Laurel said...

Sounds delicious. I remember making a chocolate and mint swirled bunt cake as a teenager. A beautiful union of two of my favorite things.

Ziggy said...

I really like your blog post and how descriptive it is, I think it’s great when food or an object can really bring back the memories from our childhood. Sometimes I wish that I could make cookies just like mom does every time I make them no matter how much I follow her recipe they are never quite the same.

Mary said...

A cake made with memories is doubly good.
Your cake is a delight. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Priya said...

Marble chocolate cake looks absolutely divine..

Marnely Rodriguez said...

Swirls make life worth living! Love the chocolate-matcha combination.. thanks for sharing :)

Lora said...

Gorgeous marble cake! Lovely memories of your father. So sweet...

Carolyn Jung said...

What beautiful colors in that cake. I still have a tin of matcha in my fridge that I've been wondering what to do with besides making shortbread with. I've got to try this swirly sensational cake now.

Lana said...

My father would burn a pot of water - we don't trust him in the kitchen, even though he is helping me peel the potatoes when he visits. But everybody uses his surgeon's skills for carving roasted piglets, or parceling sides of beef:)
I loved getting to know your dad, tee-shirt and Bermuda shorts (mine won't caught dead in shorts in public - old school!), head buried underneath the hood. Were you trying to keep him longer with you by not mastering his technique of marbling? I don't know how your cakes looked before, but this one is gorgeous:)
I have never baked with matcha, but love its vibrant color. Great post, great memories, great recipe:)
BTW, the chocolates look divine! Jealous!

A Thought For Food said...

This is a beautiful marble cake! I so wish I could come to Germany to meet all of you! Have so much fun!

Sanjeeta kk said...

Oh I love that deep dark fissure on the top! The marbled cake looks perfect, and more so since it evokes fond memories.Gorgeous bakes, and good luck for the workshop, Jamie.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

It's so lovely to read about your father. I read about a lot of our mothers but lets not forget the talented fathers in the kitchen too!

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

I've never been that keen on green cake ever since my sister baked an 'Emporer Ming' cake - even the birds wouldn't touch it. Your hint of green with the dark brown of the chocolate is super-appetising. Hotel Chocolat has just opened here in Dubai so after years of mail-ordering it to other people I can taste it for myself. So far so good! Lovely to hear about your Father in the kitchen.

Mathilde said...

Hello Jamie!
Comment vas-tu? Ton marbré à l'air fabuleux! j'espère te revoir vite. A bientôt. Bises.

sliceofmylyfe said...

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY. The green matcha and chocolate cake is the just the treat to whip up on such a special day.

Nisrine M. said...

It sounds delicious, Jamie. I've never had matcha. I can't wait to try it.

Debugcooking said...

Absolutely perfect swirl and a perfect chai time cake Jamie...SO nice to read abt yr dad...and yes matcha & choco are my new fav...its just 2 weeks now and we will be discussing this in person \lol

5 Star Foodie said...

What a gorgeous marbled cake! I bet the combination of chocolate and matcha flavors is fantastic!

Anna Johnston said...

You are so talented, this little beauty is gorgeous. Perfect! :) I adore your marble cake. Any left overs?

Jamie said...

@Anna Johnston: Thank you so much and no, not one slice is left and that makes me a Happy Homemaker :-)

Nuts about food said...

That is what I call beautiful marbling. I hope you had a wonderful mother's day with your family. Regarding chocolate, I couldn't agree more. I just tried making my first chocolates at home over the week end and was really happy by the result.

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said...

No need to vaunt the pleasures of chocolate to me! As a fellow chocolate lover I wholeheartedly agree that chocolate has magical and seductive powers which I am unable to resist. It's a good thing it's got all those wonderful health benefits, it gives me a clear conscience to indulge!

Best whip said...

i just love chocolate cakes and this one looks just too good.
Many thanks for sharing the recipe. :-)

Nancy Baggett said...

Your cake images are tempting. The images of your father are touching. I have fond memories of family members baking--but just realized none of the men, just the women. You're lucky.

Elra's cooking and baking said...

My dad's loved to cook as well, but he only made Balinese dishes. I just wish he baked as well. Your mancha cake surely tempting.

asiangrrl said...

Oh my god, Jamie! This looks utterly, decadently delicious. You know I adore chocolate almost as much as I adore Alan Rickman, and the addition of green tea powder? Brilliant! I think your dad would have loved this.

Meeta said...

It's this simple combination that I have been dying to try out! Love matcha and chocolate and if this is your father's recipe I simply have to give it a go!

Cake Duchess said...

I wish I were going to P2P! One day we'll all meet:)How sweet are your memories of your daddy baking. Love it! Love matcha and chocolate. This looks lovely:)xx

Aparna said...

That green and chocolate marbling is pretty. Reminds me of a zebra cake. I just need to lay my hands on matcha!
Been seeing the P2P pics on FB.

bakingdevils said...

One of my favourite cakes...I've recently had a go at making one and it is just awesome. We added some Orange juice and orange zest and the flavours were just amazing...

Love the pics and your little story behind it too...childhood memories are the best..

Shilpa x

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