This month for the Secret Recipe Club I was lucky to be assigned Holly Hank’s Phemomenon website. Holly is an original SRC member, one of the 19 bloggers who masterminded the concept in 2011 and began what has now become an international celebration of food bloggers with four separate groups and four reveal days each month.
For those new to the Secret Recipe Club, each month we are secretly assigned another food blog in our group. We can choose any recipe we want to recreate and interpret and then post on the same day. It is wonderful to be introduced to a slew of talented bloggers, discover new recipes that often become family favorites, and share our selection with all of you.
Holly’s blog, Phemomenon is one of my favorites. She always has interesting recipes and beautiful photos that I love to browse through. It was an honor to get her blog as my SRC Buddy this month and nearly impossible to make a selection because basically I want to make everything that she posts!
Holly is an incredible person with a fascinating story. I really can’t do it justice here – you need to go to her site and read it yourself. She is so inspiring, funny, and clever. I am in awe of her accomplishments, especially how she manages her rambunctious children. As Holly states, “I’m attempting to conquer my world, one recipe at a time. After all, this is cheaper than therapy!” Doesn’t that just make you want to hug her? I know I do!
This month I decided to make Holly’s vanilla and chocolate marbled loaf cake. It is the ultimate blending of chocolate and vanilla, one of my favorite flavor combinations. You could easily add additional flavorings if you like such as complementary alcohols, flavored oils, or spices. Some ideas that come to mind to blend with the chocolate would be orange, coconut, peppermint, or raspberry. All of those could be added to the “white” batter.
I love recipes that give me options. You can totally customize this to please your family!
Because the chocolate batter tends to be thicker than the white chocolate batter, feel free to add a little extra milk to thin it out slightly. If the batter is too thick, you won’t get the right marbling. My chocolate batter was too heavy and I wound up with large hunks of chocolate cake instead of delicate marbling. It still tasted fantastic, but I would have liked a more ‘artistic’ look to my slices. It probably would have benefited from a little more vigorous dragging of the knife through the batter, but The Artist certainly didn’t complain, LOL!
One of the most fun aspects of making a marbled cake is not know what it will look like. As you can see below, from the top, the batter looks like it was really well blended.
But obviously the heavier chocolate batter didn’t incorporate into the white chocolate batter as well as I would have liked.
I used Scharffen-Berger semisweet block chocolate and unsweetened cocoa to get a nice, rich chocolate flavor for the dark batter. I used Guittard white chocolate (I think it is the best!) and extra vanilla for the light batter. It created a beautifully rich and creamy texture with a subtle flavor. If you bake often, buy some vanilla paste and discover how much it adds to your baked goods. I am not easily impressed and I can’t imagine not having it in my pantry!
I loved the cake and was impressed with the texture that I got with my gluten-free flour blend and almond meal. Adding almond or hazelnut meal (flour) to your baked goods in place of a portion of the flour gives you a lovely mouthfeel and richness. The nuts lend their own oils to baked goods and really make a big difference. If you are a gluten-free baker, add some to your next sweet dessert and see what you think. You may fall in love the same as I have!
This cake travels beautifully and would make a lovely hostess gift or something to take to someone who is having a party. Also, it is easy to convert to gluten-free for those who cannot eat wheat products and no one would even know or care that it was gluten-free.
After I took my photos I added a scoop of the Chocolate-Bourbon Gelato I had in the freezer (from an earlier Chocolate Monday) and I must say that the two of them went really well together (wink, wink). If you have any good ice cream in the freezer, consider adding it alongside and see what you think!
Thank you Holly for another winner! This is one recipe that will be in our “must-make” collection.
And don’t miss all of the other recipes in today’s Secret Recipe Club reveal day. The blog hop is below the recipe and all you have to do is click on any of the photos and you will be directed straight to the blog page!
This recipe adapts beautifully following the adjustments I added to the ingredients list. Make sure that you use gluten-free flour to dust your baking pan and not regular flour!
- Cake Batter
- 2 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting (or 1-3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend + 6 tbsp almond meal plus extra GF-AP flour for dusting)
- 1-1/4 tsp baking powder (1-1/2 tsp if using GF flour)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 large eggs (5 eggs if using gluten-free flours)
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup whole milk or evaporated milk (not low-fat)
- For Chocolate Batter
- 2 oz (290g) semisweet chocolate, chopped finely
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- For White Chocolate (Vanilla) Batter
- 3 oz white chocolate, chopped
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- Place a rack in center of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Butter and flour (use GF flour if needed) a 9x5x2-1/2 or 10x5x2-1/2 inch loaf pan. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two double-panned regular baking sheets (one set inside the other). Double-panning helps insulate the cake creating a more even baking environment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Break the eggs into a small bowl and add the vanilla; set aside.
- In your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer and a large bowl) beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, fluffy and lightened in color, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes until smooth and creamy.
- While the butter and sugar are creaming, melt the two chocolates. Place the chocolate ingredients in two small heatproof bowls, chocolate in one, white chocolate in the other, and set your microwave to half-power. Heat each one individually in 30-second bursts, stirring to help the chocolates melt more evenly.
- Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Don't be concerned if the batter looks curdled, this is normal and will disappear when you add the dry ingredients. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour mixture and the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing just until each addition is incorporated.
- Transfer half the batter to the bowl that held the dry ingredients. Stir and fold the melted dark chocolate mixture into this bowl, making sure that you are getting the batter from the bottom of the bowl to the top. Continue stirring and folding until the batter is smooth and evenly combined. Set aside.
- Add the white chocolate mixture to the original batter left in the stand mixer’s bowl; beat with the mixer until smooth.
- Drop dollops of each batter into the prepared pan in a random pattern, alternating the batters. Using a table knife or long wooden skewer, drag and zigzag it the length of the pan. Wipe off the knife. Repeat, starting at the opposite end. Don’t over mix the batter or you'll lose the marbled effect and end up with a muddy-looking loaf. (Note: I was a bit too cautious and wound up with large sections of chocolate batter.)
- Bake the cake for 30 minutes and spin the pans so the front is now facing the back of the oven. Continue baking for another 30 minutes and then check it with a wooden toothpick. If it is getting too brown on top but needs more baking time, tent the top loosely with a piece of foil. The cake may need up to 30 minutes more to bake, depending on your oven, how dark your baking pan is and what additions you've made. The cake is done when a thin knife or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Transfer the cake pan to a rack to cool for 15 minutes and then remove it from the pan and continue to cool it (right side up) on the rack until it's room temperature.
- Yield: 1 loaf, 6 to 8 servings
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