Last night I made my first Dorie recipe. I’ve leafed through the book a few times and have thought about several things I want to try. Sometimes a good cookbook can be as entertaining to me as a mystery novel. Since I make a lot of muffins, I thought about starting with the Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, only to find that the bottle of poppyseeds I was *sure* I had, wasn’t in the cabinet. I was feeling like something sweet and chocolaty, but every recipe I looked at called for more chocolate than I had on hand — now, that’s what I call a good omen for those brownies and cookies and I can’t wait to come back to those after a trip to the store.
Then I turned to ‘Basic Marbled Loaf Cake’ (p. 230). One of the things that I find I like best about Dorie’s book is the stories that go with the recipes. It’s like chatting with a friend about her very personal experience baking for her family; she speaks from the heart as one who enjoys experimenting in her kitchen. Another thing I love is the ‘Playing Around’ section that comes after most recipes. Dorie is absolutely my kind of baker. Here’s a great recipe and then here are some suggestions for tweaking it, because even great recipes that you love need a little twist now and then. But I didn’t read the ‘Playing Around’ at first. I read the recipe and thought, mmm, I have those oranges on the counter and I *love* orange and chocolate. I’m going to add orange zest to the ‘plain’ part and chocolate to the other part. It wasn’t until after I had started in the kitchen that I read the section with her variations and there, at the bottom of the list, is ‘Chocolate and Orange Marble Loaf‘. Oh, yes! Despite her love of coffee, I can tell Dorie and I are going to be fast friends in the kitchen.
I changed the recipe a little myself. Rather than using whole milk, I used some homemade yogurt, and I used the zest of a large orange and 1/4 t. orange extract in one half and added 3 oz melted unsweetened chocolate to the other half. It smelled so good it brought The Husband down from the computer to the kitchen, looking to see if I had some cookies he could eat and then, because I baked it so late at night, we both went to bed sad that it smelled so good and we weren’t going to eat any of it yet. The kids love it. I have to say that I actually prefer the orange part to the chocolate part. It’s more moist and our family could probably devour an entire orange pound cake in one sitting. It’s that good.
Basic Marbled Loaf Cake
(adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking)
2 c. plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. vanilla yogurt
zest of one orange
1/4 t. orange extract
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325F. Butter a loaf pan (the recipe calls for 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch but the only ones I have are 9 1/4 x 5 1/4, so mine was a little squatty compared to hers). Dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked one on top of the other.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Don’t be concerned if the batter curdles and stays curdled — it will be fine. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the yogurt in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients), mixing only until each addition is incorporated.
At this point, you are ready to divide the batter. Add the orange zest and extract to one half and the chocolate to the other half. Scrape the batter into the pan.
Bake the cake for 1 hour and 20 to 30 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. If the cake looks as if it’s getting too brown during its bake, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 15 minutes before unmolding, then cool the cake to room temperature right side up on the rack.
Dorie claims that, wrapped well, the cake will last for up to 4 days, but I think ours had mostly disappeared within 12 hours. Very high vapor pressure!