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I enjoy the technical side of baking and have been experimenting with a variety of different cake recipes to try to understand exactly what the various ingredients actually do. This particular recipe was born out of what can only be described as a substandard Madeira sponge. It looked very pretty, but was rather soft and stodgy. In my darkest hour I turned, as many do, to Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and in those pages I found cake-based enlightenment.
Anyway, I call this a Surprise Marble Cake because from the outside it looks like a plain sponge cake. It’s not until someone cuts into it that the exciting marbling appears and all your friends are amazed by your genius and awesomeness. Because this surprise marble cake starts life as a Madeira sponge, it can support heavy icing and even some cake carving without collapsing. It will also keep for much longer than a regular marble cake, which is handy if you’ve got some guests coming for a few days and you fancy having something on hand for everyone to nibble away at. Not that a marble cake this tasty will last that long!
Why not try baking your own surprise marble cake? It’s easy to make and it looks really good once it’s cut open.
To make this surprise marble cake, preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/Gas 4. Grease and line an 18cm/7in deep, round cake tin.
Gently melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water. While the chocolate melts, cream the butter and the sugar together until the mixture goes white then mix in the flour and vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time until you have a thick, smooth mixture. Divide the mixture in half. Mix the liquid chocolate into one half.
Alternating a tablespoon from each bowl put the mixture into the cake tin. When it’s all in, level it off and tap the tin onto the work surface a few times to knock out any large air pockets. Take a metal skewer (I use a fondue fork) and swirl the mixture a couple of times to help it marble. Bake for just over an hour, until it feels springy and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then turn out, remove any parchment and leave to cool on a wire rack.
As a Madeira cake, the surprise marble cake sponge will keep for some time. I store it in an airtight container in a cool cupboard.