This month for our Instagram cookbook club, we are devouring ‘Gjelina, Cooking from Venice, California’ by Travis Lett. I tend to have apprehensions embarking on cooking from a book based on a restaurant’s dishes. …
Growing up, my mom’s go-to treat for all of us was her marble cake, or Marmorkuchen, in German.
It was so simple and yet it wasn’t. It wasn’t overly sweet. But my, the chocolate side was chocolatey, and the yellow side was lemony. As a kid, I would alternate bites so that I could savour each flavour to the full. We never got tired of that cake. We thought mom was the best when she pulled this out of the oven, and the aroma filled the kitchen.
It’s really just a pound or butter cake. But for some reason Germans love making it as a marble cake. Years later when I was on my own and wanted to relive my mom’s cake, I pulled out my ‘Joy of Cooking’ to see if there was a marble cake recipe in it. There was. I made it. It tasted nothing like my mother’s. Don’t get me wrong. It tasted…nice. Just nice. I was comparing it to what I remembered so vividly. I found another recipe in a different cookbook. Tried it. Meh. Again, nice. But not my mother’s. What was I doing wrong? I remembered a certain ‘bitterness’ to the chocolate side that simply made my memory swoon. How could I have such a distinct expectation, when it didn’t seem to be in any of the recipes I had tried?
Finally, I did what I should have done in the beginning. I phoned my mom. “Mama, remember your Marmor Kuchen?” “Of course I do, I’m not getting forgetful, yet!” “How did you get it to taste so amazing?” “What do you mean?” “The chocolate part was always so…strong, chocolatey. And the yellow side was so lemony.” “Aaahh…yes…that would be the rum.” “Rum, there’s rum in the recipe??” “Of course.” “Okay, Love you, Bye.” No one had told me about the rum!! And it wasn’t in any of the recipes I found, even years later, when Pinterest was born. But looking back, it makes total sense. I had tasted and remembered that bitter, alcoholic nuance that made the chocolate so wonderful.
So I played with a few recipes through the years, and this is the result. This cake is exactly what I remember as a kid. Swirls of chocolate amidst moist yellowness. The play of dark against light. Moody bitter chocolate against happy fresh lemon. It is still a simple pound cake. But it isn’t. A perfect loaf to bake up when friends are coming for tea. Of course Jim will always want it warmed up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. So predictable. But a drizzle of chocolate sauce over it would be amazing as well. This cake will always remind me of my mother.
German Marble Cake
A moist, chocolatey and lemony marbled pound cake, perfect for company or for breakfast!
- 2 cups plus 2 tbsp AP flour
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup whole milk room temperature
- 1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
- 1/4 cup dark rum
- 2 tbsp brewed espresso or strong coffee, cooled
- zest of one lemon
- 1/4 tsp lemon extract
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter or grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch (or similar) loaf pan. Line the the pan with parchment paper going up and over the long sides, and grease the parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth.
Add the sugar and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix thoroughly after each addition.
Beat in the vanilla extract.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour and milk, alternating, beginning and ending with the flour, and mixing only until each addition is just incorporated. Keep the empty bowl that the flour mixture was in nearby.
Scrape down the bowl with a spatula and scoop half of the batter into the now empty flour bowl. Set aside. This will be the lemon part of the marble loaf. The chocolate part of the marble loaf will be made with the remaining half of the batter in the stand mixer.
Whisk the cocoa powder, coconut palm sugar, rum and coffee together in a small bowl. Add this chocolate mixture into the bowl of your stand mixer and combine on low speed till well incorporated.
To the vanilla batter in the other bowl add the zest and lemon extract and stir well to blend.
Randomly drop spoonfuls of the lemon and chocolate batters into the pan.
Try to cover the bottom with half of each batter, and then layer the remaining batter on top, dropping chocolate on lemon, and lemon on chocolate.
Take the top end of a wooden spoon and plunge it into the batter at one end of the loaf. Drag the spoon to the other side of the loaf pan in a zig-zag motion, careful not to exceed 5 zig-zags.
Don’t get too picky about a perfect marble, it is best not to over-mix the doughs once they are in the pan. That's why I use a wooden spoon and not a knife- a knife tends to mix up too finely and you get more of a muddy mess.
Bake the loaf, on a cookie sheet, for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden and a wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Then run a knife along either end and use the parchment paper to pull it out of the pan and cool on a rack.
Wrapped tightly in cling film, this will actually taste better the next day.
This cake freezes well.
I won’t apologize for the amount of rhubarb recipes I am posting. Rhubarb is such a glorious, yet humble fruit/vegetable.
And the tartness that it imparts to recipes is the perfect foil for the simple sweetness of what it is usually paired with.
I’ve been making this pastry/tart/strudel for years now. It’s a given that as soon as rhubarb starts showing up at the markets, this tart will make an appearance. As much for the fact that I get to bake with rhubarb, as for the frangipani layer that lies beneath the fruit. Isn’t frangipani glorious!? That lovely blend of whipped butter, sugar, eggs, and almond meal. A fluffier, softer version of marzipan. I’ve joked that I make this tart as much for the final result, as for the frangipani itself- I’ll just take a spoon as eat it out of the bowl. Don’t go freaking out that I eat raw egg, I eat raw beef (organic of course) as well, and I haven’t keeled over yet, or inherited some bizarre bug or parasite as the result.
And it’s really much easier than it looks. This is one of those recipes where the visual is half the experience. And because you start with ready made, store bought puff pastry it’s a breeze to pull together. I remember once a chef on tv in an interview said, “Even we chefs use store bought puff pastry. Don’t go nuts trying to make your own. Unless you have too much time on your hands.” Or in my humble opinion, are Martha Stewart! Really, when someone asks me if I make my own, my eyes practically glaze over. No, I have no one to impress, I don’t make my own. I get it, you will learn how to make it attending culinary school, and it is a skill that must be mastered (if you’re going to be a pastry chef, which most of us are not!) and yes, if you have nothing else to do, go ahead and make up a batch. But I won’t be impressed that you did!! I’m not trying to sound ornery. It’s just that if the puff pastry available at the grocery store is good enough for a trained professional, it’s good enough for me. There, I’m done!
So yes, this ‘turnover’. You’re really assembling, and faux braiding. Once you’ve spread a layer of frangipani, and then the macerated fruit on top, down the middle of a puff pastry rectangle, you are simply criss-crossing strips that you’ve cut on either side of the rectangle. Once you’ve done this all the way down, it looks like a braid, and that’s it. I was curious why it is called a ‘Jalousie’. So I googled it. Dictionary.com told me it is a ‘noun: 1. window blind or shutter constructed from angled slats of wood, plastic, etc. 2. a window made of similarly angled slats of glass. Word Origin: from Old French gelosie latticework screen; literally: jealousy, perhaps because one can look through the screen without being seen.‘ I can see this definition working for this pastry: the criss-crossing can create the effect of the louvres or slats on a window blind.
I can’t believe I am writing this recipe out for everyone, on a snow day in April. Yes, we get snow in April. Toronto has such a fickle time with Spring. I think we all get so frustrated, because of the extreme cold temps we need to bear in Feb and March, that we are truly desperate for Spring. And when we see photos of cherry blossoms etc up all over North America, (even our western province of British Columbia had their blossoms a month earlier, let alone the pansies etc that they had by the beginning of February) we feel left out! And then there’s the fact that we are just plain tired of wearing black stockings, winter boots, black, grey and brown. We want to embrace pastels like everyone else. Even in small doses, hehe.
So try this out, and let me know how it worked for you. And feel free to change it up a bit once you’ve tried it with the strawberry rhubarb filling. I’ve used other berries, plums, fresh apricots etc. In the end, you could say it’s similar to a really long Danish pastry! Here’s to Spring fruit, and hopefully Spring flowers in Ontario soon 🙂
Update: So I baked this up again today (April 8, 2017) and made a few changes. I decided I would make a smaller version that would basically feed 4, or provide Jim and myself a couple of pieces each. I used one sheet of puff pastry, thawed and unrolled it out. I didn’t roll it past the size it came as (basically 10×11 inches or so). I cut the recipe below in half, adding some chopped fresh mint and thyme, and filled as per usual. It turned out perfect for us. So if you follow this adjustments you will have the perfect mid week treat. Or something to go with coffee.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jalousie
A lovely turnover/danish pastry filled with almond frangipani and fresh fruit.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/8 tsp pure almond extract
- 1/2 cup AP flour
- 1 1/2 cups ground almonds
- 1 14 oz (390 g) block or puff pastry or 2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed in both cases
- 1 cup rhubarb chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 cup strawberries chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar or any granulated sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 5 dashes rhubarb bitters
- 1 egg for egg wash
- 1 tbsp sliced almonds for topping
- icing sugar for dusting
Make the Frangipani:
Cream the softened butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the almond extract.
Add the flour and ground almonds and mix well. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350F
Combine the rhubarb and strawberries in a bowl. Combine the sugar, cinnamon and bitters in a small bowl. Pour evenly over the fruit and stir to combine. Set aside.
On a well floured piece of parchment paper cut to be at least 20x13 inches (place this on your counter so that the shorter ends are up and down when you look at it) roll out the pastry to approximately 15x9 inch rectangle. It should be oriented in portrait, or with the short ends at the top and bottom. It should fit nicely inside the parchment paper
If you are using sheets of puff pastry, line up the longer edges of the two sheets to slightly overlap by 1/2 inch or so. The seam should be in horizontal position when you look down at it. Press down firmly to seal the seam. You won't need to roll these two, as they are now more than large enough.
Spoon the frangipani down the middle of the pastry. It shouldn't be wider than 2.5-3 inches. See Notes below.
Spoon the fruit on top of the frangipani.
Make incisions on either side of the filling on a slight angle (see photos) , stopping short of the filling itself, each cut about 1 inch apart. You should have strips about 2/5 or so inches long and 1 inch wide.
Fold the top fringe across the fruit on a slight angle, pulling gently to cover the fruit. It should just start to meet the other side. But don't force it further. As long as it covers the fruit, you're good.
Fold the opposing fringe over this one, creating a criss cross, pressing gently into each other, so that they adhere.
Continue on till you have reached the end. Press the top and bottom ends tightly and under to seal them. Brush away any excess flour from the parchment paper.
Gently transfer the pastry to a baking sheet, using the parchment to carry it over. The parchment can remain on the baking sheet.
Egg wash the entire pastry, trying to avoid pulling out any fruit juices.
Sprinkle with the almond slices.
Bake until golden, about 30-35 minutes. Don't be eager to remove too early.
Cool and then dust with icing sugar.
I have been making this recipe for years, and have not idea where the recipe came from (before the days of Pinterest!)
As per my photographs, I only spoon enough of the frangipani and fruit that seems reasonable for the size of pastry I have rolled out. If it seems unreasonable to use all that you have prepared, don't use it all in one jalousie. It will just ooze out between the 'braid's'. Better to be reasonable when spooning it out, and then have a bit leftover to use elsewhere, than trying to stretch the pastry too thin to cover over it.
I find that there is always extra frangipani filling! If you have extra fruit, just make a second jalousie! Two is better than one, right?! I would just go ahead an make a second one- breakfast the next morning 🙂
Or store the frangipani in the fridge and make tarts later in the week. Just make or thaw frozen mini tart shells. Par0=-bake 15 minutes after thawing. Then fill with frangipani and top with more fresh fruit. Just remember that frangipani grows, so you don't need to overfill. 1/3 of the tart is more than enough. Then bake till the shells have finished baking, about 20 more minutes.