During the dark ages before kosher sushi, marble cake was a fixture at the Shabbat morning after services kiddush. I haven’t been able discover why. I suspect the reason is that marble cake slices well and can be laid out easily and attractively on trays without too much fussing. It also goes well with the traditional kiddush libation–a tiny shot glass of whiskey.
By the way, marble has nothing to do with the old fashioned kiddie game. It refers to the dark veins shot through the cake yellow sponge which resembles the veins marble stone. Today the veins are flavored with chocolate but in the old days before chocolate was widely eaten the veins were made of a combination of mollasses and spice.
Sadly, homemade marble cake has become a forgotten treat. That is because commercial bakers have coopted the recipe and turned it into a pale replica of its former self. But this recipe, which comes from South Africa where many Lithuanian Jews settled and cooked traditional fare is delightful. It comes from my ex neighbor Shoshana Levy, who is a professional harpist and a wonderful baker
Magical Marvelous Marble Cake
Seven eggs separated
3 cups of flour (use white or whole wheat pastry flour)
2 1/2 cups of sugar (use white)
3/4 cup of oil
1 and 1/2 cups of water
4 level teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 tbsp best quality cocoa
Preheat oven to 350 F or 175 C
Beat the egg whites until stiff
Combine flour, baking powder and salt
Beat egg yolks, water and oil together. Add in the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.
Gently incorporate the egg whites
Remove a cup of the batter and combine with a tablespoon of cocoa
Coat a bundt pan or a tube pan with non stick cooking spray. Also spray one thin loaf pan and or a few cup cake holders to accomodate any left over batter. This is a big cake. When I made it the batter produced enough to fill one standard sized bundt pan, one thin loaf pan and three cupcake.
Pour in batter alternating between the yellow and the chocolate batters. Gently insert a knife into the batter to create swirls
Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out dry
Freezes well. Serves 16
If you leave out the chocolate this is a wonderful sponge cake on it’s own.