Oh hai beloved oven! I have missed you so! Man, can you tell I'm super happy that the weather is cooling off a bit? I've been dying to get back to doing some baking (I mean, baking of stuff other than beets...) and now that things are calmer at work, I finally had the time (and energy) to do a little experimenting in the kitchen. (Of course, this meant that I totally forgot to eat an actual dinner, but er, um, cake batter is totally a good form of sustenance?) Anyway, I really wanted to try making marble cake, but I couldn't decide if I wanted to make green tea and ginger marble cake, or green tea and chocolate, so I did what any modern person does these days when they need help making a decision--I polled my Facebook friends list. (I suppose if I were REALLY modern, I would have used Twitter.) Naturally, they were no help at all, and suggested additional combinations! Hmph.
In the end, I just made up a batch of basic marble cake batter and went nuts. And by nuts, I really just mean that I made green tea and ginger cake, and then brought back the old favorite, self-frosting Nutella cake with the leftover batter. Isn't this lineup cute? For scale, the smallest cake is only about 3 inches long by 1 inch wide. The largest pan is a silicone loaf pan I picked up from Muji and it holds about half of an average 8.5x4.5 loaf pan. I haven't really baked with silicone pans before, so I thought it was really amazing when the cake basically just slipped out without me even having to run a knife around the edges!
I am quite pleased with how the marbling came out (in the top photo). I am less pleased by how the Nutella ones look--let's be honest. They are downright ugly! I was a little hampered in my Nutella-swirling efforts by the size of these little baking molds, but gosh!
They look much better from this angle! Anyway, these are a variation on the much blogged about self-frosting Nutella cupcakes, which are such a genius idea. Basically all you do is dollop some Nutella straight on top of your unbaked cake batter, and swirl it in. As it bakes, some of it gets crusty, some of it gets melty, and all of it gets delicious.
I haven't decided yet which version I like better--the ginger version seems moister, somehow, but the ginger overpowers the green tea a little. I'm pretty sure I need to go have another slice of each, to be sure....
Green Tea and Ginger Marble Cake adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking
12 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all purpose)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons matcha (green tea) powder
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped, crystallized ginger
Preheat the oven to 325. Decide on what shape and number of cakes you want to use, but this recipe is sized for a standard loaf pan. If you want to try both the ginger and the nutella versions, you could also consider making this into cupcakes!
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. Beat the butter until smooth, then add the sugar and beat until thoroughly combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. Stir in vanilla. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk (beginning and ending with the flour). Beat just until the ingredients are combined.
At this point, you are ready to flavor. If you're just making one loaf, then divide your batter roughly in half into two bowls. To one, add the matcha, and stir until the batter is all a glorious, Hulk-green. Stir the ginger chips into the other bowl. If you're going to make some Nutella versions as well, you can go ahead and divide the batters into two bowls, but set aside some of the green tea batter.
For the marble cake, you have two options--either alternately drop spoonfuls of the two different batters into your prepared pans, and then swirl with a knife, or, and this is what I do (because I am lazy), just pour your green tea batter into the bowl with the ginger batter, and give the whole thing a couple of quick folds, as if you were folding egg whites. Don't mix the batters, you're just aiming for streaks here. Pour into your prepared pan.
If you are making the Nutella version, take your leftover green tea batter, and spoon or pour into smaller tins or muffin cups. How much Nutella you add is up to you; the more you add, the harder it is to swirl in an aesthetically pleasing manner, but on the other hand, the more Nutella, the more delicious! Drop dollops of Nutella directly onto the surface of the batter with a spoon, then take a knife or a skewer, and give it a couple of swirls. Bake until the cakes are set and pulling away from the edges of the pan slightly; a skewer will come out clean (a few crumbs of Nutella are fine). In the pans I used, the mini cakes took about 15 minutes, the largest pan took about 45.