The curse of the marble cake


(Not) the cursed marble cake

Everyone has baking stories.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  Undoubtably, if you bake, you’re going to experience wins and losses.  For me, when something turns out great I love to share the recipe, tastes of it, and hear feedback.  When it turns out bad, well frankly, I don’t like to talk about it.  I don’t want to be reminded of my in-competencies, the time I wasted making it, and most of all, the wasted ingredients.  But this story has to be told.  

It all sounded so easy.  There was a simple request  made for a marble cake.  No problem.  I’ve made a lot of cakes over the years and it couldn’t get any easier, it wasn’t like I was being asked to make a cake for TLC’s tv series Cake Boss. 

 I probably should have heeded the first sign of trouble when it presented itself.   It came when I  had a hard time finding a recipe that suited my tastes for a marble cake.  All of the marble cake recipes I found called for orange extract, or flavors that I don’t associate with a simple yellow/chocolate marble cake.  To make things easy on myself  I decided to make a yellow cake and marble it.  All went well until I was passing the cake pans into the oven and it dawned on me that I had left out the baking powder. 

Okay, a couple of curse words might have escaped me at that moment.   I was left with two choices,  throw the cake batter out and start over, or pour the batter back into the mixing bowl, add the baking powder, and serve a light-colored chocolate cake along with an explanation.  Needless to say I opted for the later choice. 

The second warning presented itself after I took the cakes out of the oven.  Baking powder dots speckled  the tops of very thin cakes.  What in the world? I was slightly worried the cake might taste bitter because the baking powder appeared on top but  I ignored that nagging feeling I had.  Never ignore nagging feelings… 

A persistent person by genetics, or nature, I  was convinced I could turn this disaster around.  My next plan of attack, mix up another batter of marble cake and use it as one large middle layer.  I could triumph – I was sure.  The cake would have a light chocolate layer on the top and bottom with a marble layer in the middle.  Brilliant! 

And yet, another warning…  By now you’re probably asking yourself what’s wrong with this girl…  As the middle layer of the cake was cooling I found a recipe for a soft chocolate frosting.  It tasted delicious but didn’t make nearly enough for two layers, let alone three.  Worse, it wasn’t a soft fluffy frosting like I had wanted, it was more like a ganache without cream.   As you can probably imagine I was a little more than frustrated.  Still trying to convince myself things would be okay I shifted the middle layer into position and as I did the top of the cake stuck to my fingers – a good time to taste I thought.   Disaster! !  The cake tasted like baking powder.  It was bitter just as I had suspected.  There was no way I could serve this, and without further thought I picked up all three layers and delivered them to their final resting place – the trash!   

Other than a batch or two of burnt cookies I’ve never had to resort to (the trash) before .  There was no question  I was cursed.    After all I had been through with this dreaded cake one important fact remained – I still had to have a cake for a planned celebration.  This time I resorted to what I knew.  I dug out a chocolate cake recipe I’ve made a half-dozen times and I found a great recipe for an irresistable cream cheese peanut butter icing.  I’m sure you will be relieved to hear (after all this) the chocolate cake  turned out heavenly, and was a huge success.  Now, here’s the kicker, while I was trying to write this post about the curse of the marble cake my laptop went down.  How strange is that!