Chocolate and vanilla cake batter, swirled together to make a deliciously simple cake! This recipe uses oil and real chocolate for a moist, rich flavour and only needs 100g of silken tofu or 2 eggs! (The vegan option for those who want to make it without butter or eggs uses blended silken tofu – a genius swap when making denser, buttery pound cakes like this). No self-raising flour or caster sugar needed either, just plain flour and granulated sugar, so it’s a quick and simple bake to make.
Whoever invented marble cake is a genius, you get the best of both worlds AND they somehow taste better marble together than they do separately? A simple vanilla batter is made and divided into two portions – one portion is left plain and the other is mixed with cocoa powder/chocolate. The two colours of batter are layered into a cake tin (usually a loaf tin or bundt tin) and swirled lightly with a knife – not enough to blend the flavours together, only just so they become entangled with one another so you get a bit of both flavour in each bite.
Using melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder
I used to make marble cake with cocoa powder in the batter but since trying it out with real chocolate melted and swirled in, I haven’t gone back. The flavour is so much better when using melted choc here and, as the cake is so simple in its flavouring, I think it’s worth the extra bit of effort.
If you want to use cocoa powder instead, simply use 4 tbsp of cocoa powder plus 1 tbsp vegetable oil in the chocolate batter in place of the melted chocolate
The reverse creaming method:
I use the reverse creaming method for this batter which means the dry ingredients are mixed with the fat first, and then the liquid ingredients are stirred in to get a smooth batter. I find this provides a nicely even, buttery crumb which is protected somewhat against overmixing so leads to a nicely spongey, moist cake. This is because the fat coats the flour granules somewhat preventing them from forming a gluten network once the liquids are added which in turn means you can mix this batter a little more aggressivly than you would a standard cake batter.
How to make Vegan Marble Cake
We use the same method as a standard marble cake here but use blended silken tofu instead of the eggs & melted vegan butter.
1) Combine the melted butter and dry ingredients in a bowl, mix until sandy
2) Blitz together the wet ingredients (including silken tofu) in a separate bowl or jug until smooth.
3) Pour wet into dry and mix until smooth
4) Remove 300g (1 cup) of the batter to a separate bowl and stir in melted chocolate (or cocoa powder)
5) Layer up the two different colours of batter in 6 layers (using 1/3 of each colour for each layer)
6) Give the batter a gentle swirl if you like, to help the colours marble together
7) Bake until a toothpick comes out clean then let cool before slicing and serving.
Ingredients for making marble cake
Plain flour: you don’t need self raising flour for this recipe. Instead we use some baking powder and bicarbonate of soda to give us the lift we need
Cornflour: as cornflour is gluten-free, this helps to stop the cake becoming too dense from overmixing. It also helps to retain a bit more moisture in the cake providing a softer texture.
Granulated sugar: using caster sugar here is unnecessary as batter is so liquidy, the sugar will mostly dissolve while you’re mixing, meaning you can use granulated sugar which is coarser than caster. If all you have is caster sugar, you can of course use it here!
Vegan block butter or unsalted butter: this brings flavour, softness and a lovely buttery texture to the cake. If you’re using a vegan butter, I think a block butter works better here than tub butter (but either will do – just don’t use the low fat stuff!)
Blended firm silken tofu: this binds the cake and help it have a springy, moist texture. Silken tofu works really well here as an egg replacer as it produces that denser, buttery crumb we want! You can get this from the Asian food section in the supermarket or near the tinned beans, usually (as it is shelf stable it won’t usually be refrigerated).
Or 2 eggs: if you’re not vegan, you can use eggs instead of the silken tofu in the batter. They give the cake a nice lift & spongey texture as well as providing binding for the cakes.
Oil: this provides extra moistness to the cake. In combo with the melted butter, it really makes a difference to how soft the cake is & keeps it softer for longer.
Melted chocolate (or cocoa powder): as above, I think melted chocolate really gives an edge here, flavour wise. But if you’re in a pinch, my mum’s classic sub of 4 tbsp cocoa powder + 1 tbsp vegetable oil in place of the melted chocolate works a treat!
Milk or Non-dairy Milk: I usually don’t bake with cow’s milk as I hardly ever have it in the house. I usually bake with unsweetened soy milk or oat milk which both work perfectly here (as does cow’s milk if that’s what you’re using). The milk creates the right consistency of batter here to provide swirls to your cake without making the colours meld together.
- 110g (1/2 cup) vegan block butter or unsalted butter
- 185g (1 1/2 cups) plain white flour (all purpose flour)
- 20g (2 tbsp) cornflour (cornstarch), see notes for substitutes
- 1/2 tsp fine table salt
- 65g (2.25 ounces) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
- 220g (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 165g (2/3 cup) non-dairy milk or cow's milk
- 30g (2 tbsp) vegetable oil or neutral oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 100g blended silken tofu OR 2 medium UK eggs (large US eggs)
- 1 tsp vinegar (see notes) or lemon juice
- 2 tbsp brewed coffee or water
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) convection. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with a sling of baking paper and set aside.
- Place the butter into a medium pot and set over a medium-low heat. Allow to melt completely then remove from the heat.
- As the butter is melting, place the flour, cornflour and salt in a medium bowl and stir together to combine.
- Pour the hot melted butter into the flour mixture and stir together until you get a sandy, slightly bobbly mixture. Add the sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix together well. I like to use my fingertips here to rub all the ingredients together to ensure they're all mixed and to try to break up any large lumps.
- Take the pot (which should still be hot) you were using for melting the butter and place the chocolate into it, off the heat. Set aside and allow the residual heat of the pot to melt the chocolate. If it hasn't fully melted after ~5 minutes, place it over a low heat and stir until fully melted then remove from the heat. Set aside - we will come back to this later.
- Place the milk, oil, vanilla, tofu/eggs and vinegar into a jug or small bowl and whisk together - using a fork is fine (or use a hand blender to whizz until smooth). Pour this bit by bit into the sandy flour/butter mixture, stirring together between additions (using a whisk or large fork here helps) until all the liquid has been added and the batter is mostly smooth (there may be a few lumps here & there which is fine). It's okay to mix this batter a bit more than a standard cake batter so don't be afraid to give it a good mix with the whisk.
- Pour 300g (1 cup) of the batter into the pot of melted chocolate (OFF THE HEAT). Add the coffee (or water) and stir together - this is your chocolate batter! The batter which is left in the bowl is your vanilla batter.
- Layer the chocolate batter and vanilla batter into the lined loaf tin, alternating between the two flavours (I like to do this in 6 layers i.e. 3 layers of each flavour). You can also use a butter knife to gently swirl the batter together a few times - don't go overboard here or it'll just mix the batters rather than marbling them.
- Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes, covering with foil in the final 10 minutes if the cake is looking too brown. A toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before tipping out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, slice and enjoy!
- No cornflour? Use 20g (2 tbsp) of extra plain white flour here instead.
- No chocolate? Use 4 tbsp cocoa powder + 1 tbsp oil here instead.
- Vinegar: use a neutral vinegar here, e.g. apple cider, white wine, distilled, malt, rice vinegar. DON'T use something flavoured like balsamic/sherry/red wine vinegar.
- Vegan (egg/dairy-free) version: instead of the eggs use 100g (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp) of blended silken tofu. In place of the butter use a vegan block margarine or tub margarine (NOT low fat). Use a non-dairy milk. Ensure the chocolate you're using is dairy free.