It's been over a year of blogging now, and after having a small internet celebration about it with cupcakes, I found myself reflecting on what I want this blog to be in the future. It might be the type A in me, but I keep asking myself now, "What can I do to make this blog even better? What do I want to improve?" At first, the list was long, jumbled up, and entirely too detailed. These questions were becoming more and more daunting and simultaneously less and less inspiring. So the past couple days for my breaks, I've been simplifying the list down to a few small, manageable, and motivational goals for this space. Things like going beyond my kit lens and utilizing my "nifty fifty" lens a little more. Plan out my food styling, at least a little bit more than just slapping it onto the marble slab and snapping away. Proofread my posts to check for grammar and spelling errors.
And bake more cake. While I like baking up breads and cookies, I've realized over the past couple of weeks that I really love working with cakes. In fact, a lot of those overly detailed goals that were floating around in my head had to do with cake - invest in a turntable, learn how to frost a jaw-dropping naked cake, make better frostings, etc - all narrowing down to the simple point that I simply just need to practice. Practice all those things and over time hopefully they become slightly more natural, and my cakes more beautiful. With the added bonus that I just frankly get a lot of joy from the process.
With this mindset in place, I decided to practice my frosting skills on this guy and attempt a scalloped look that I've seen on so many other stunning cakes out there on the Internet. It's a little rough around the edges and I definitely need a little more patience next time, you can't see it in the photos but there were definitely some rushed maneuvers made at the bottom of the cake. But overall, the little extra time put into making the cake look like this gave me a little extra boost of happiness as I snapped some photos. And I've never been so motivated to practice! Now if only I could do that with school more often... (I kid, don't worry mom - I've been "studying my butt off," per your gentle reminders).
The cake is a marble cake with a strong almond flavor - while there's a cocoa batter swirled in, it really is all about the almond in the actual cake itself. I think the chocolate flavor stands out more so in the frosting. Together it makes a great combination that is not too sweet, but still sweet enough for celebration (this cake went to my wonderful friend Peter, who is now 25)!
Ingredients (makes 2 9x5 inch loaf cakes) adapted from Food and Wine
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 sticks of unsalted butter, softened plus 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 2 2/3 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 2 loaf pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with a hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined between each egg addition. Add the milk and beat until combined. Add the flour and mix until just combined.
- In another large bowl, whisk the melted butter and the cocoa powder until smooth. Add half of the batter to this cocoa-butter mixture. Add the vanilla extract to the cocoa bowl and mix until combined (the batter should turn a chocolate color). In the remaining batter, add the almond extract and mix until combined. You should have two separate batters at this point.
- Using an ice cream scoop, or a spoon, scoop the batter into the loaf pan, alternating batters so that it makes a checkerboard pattern (2 columns by 4 rows). Make the same checkerboard pattern on top of your first pattern, but this time if you have vanilla put the chocolate batter on top of it. If you have extra batter, go ahead and make another layer, following the same instructions.
- Using the blunt end of a knife, drag the knife in the batter in a large S pattern, and then do once again in a zig zag pattern - don't over-swirl or else you'll actually lose the marble effect!
- Smooth out the top of the loaf pans as best as you can, and then pop in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean when put in the center of the cake. You may need to cover with foil halfway into baking so that the top won't brown too quickly.
- Take out and place on a cooling rack until cool enough to slice. Frost it with any frosting you'd like - I used this chocolate cream cheese frosting from the roasted banana cupcakes a couple weeks ago! You can frost the tops only or you can layer to two to make a beautiful rectangular layer cake!