A homemade marble loaf cake is an old-fashioned and comforting standby to have for the holidays -- especially a version from a baker who's made a specialty of desserts that conform to Jewish dietary needs.
This recipe is from "My Most Favorite Dessert Company" by Doris Schechter, a collection of pareve recipes. Schechter is founder of the My Most Favorite Dessert Company, and runs its bakery combined with a restaurant in New York. She defines pareve as "made without those foods designated dairy or meat by the rabbis and therefore acceptable to serve with both -- neutral, in other words."
There are about 90 recipes in the book, including loaf and layer cakes, pies, tarts, cookies and Passover baking, some of them shown in color photos.
Schechter's goal was to prove pareve baking could be delicious and elegant, but she points out that users of the book have a choice -- "just as you can choose between a pareve and a dairy cake in my restaurant, so can you use butter where margarine is called for in the recipes that follow" -- i.e. you can choose to make your own baking pareve or dairy.
Marble Loaf Cake
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup vanilla soy milk (see note)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted margarine
1 cup sugar
3 extra-large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-by-5-by-3-inch cake pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan and line the pan with it. Do not grease the paper.
In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth and glossy. Remove the pan from the heat, but leave the top of the boiler over the water so that the chocolate remains warm and pourable.
Onto a large sheet of wax paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Stir the vanilla into the soy milk.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the margarine and sugar on medium speed until light. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and start adding the dry ingredients, alternating with the soy milk mixture, beating until the batter is smooth and the ingredients have been fully incorporated.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Pour the still-warm melted chocolate over the top of the cake and, with a metal spatula, swirl it through the batter, making a marble pattern. Zigzag the spatula through the batter well, including the corners of the pan. Really drag the spatula back and forth to ensure a beautiful design in the finished cake.
Bake the loaf for 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the loaf and remove the paper liner. (If the loaf does not unmold immediately, run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, then invert it again, at which point the loaf should drop out.) Place the loaf right side up and let cool completely on the rack.
To store the loaf: Wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
To freeze: Wrap the loaf in plastic wrap and place it in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost: On the day you plan to serve the loaf, remove it from the freezer, unwrap it completely, and let it stand at room temperature until serving time.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Note: Schechter recommends an organic vanilla soy milk, labeled pareve, which can be used as a substitute for milk and is available in some supermarkets and many health-food stores.