Vanilla and Coffee Marble Cake with Chocolate Glaze

May 16, 2009 at 1:12 pm 25 comments

I was taking my IB History test. There’s this feeling I can’t fully explain that only happens during testing season, when you tug on the metal handle of the gym door and step inside. It’s sort of like deja vu meets utter dread.

It’s the feeling you get when you walk into the room and desks have been set up, spaced neatly and equally apart, and your stomach lurches. You know that one of the chairs in this room is for you. There’s a packet with your name on it. And as you find your table and sit at it, a little part of your heart breaks. A bit of you dies. There is no escape.

There is a traditional one last stab at happiness – the whole room does a giant wave, starting with the first desk and ending in the opposite corner. Everyone laughs, then the tests are unwrapped and passed out by whichever parents or teachers volunteered to help. Absolute silence falls as the IB supervisor booms, “The tests have been opened. There is to be absolutely no talking at this point.” And the feeling settles on everything again, even more heavily than before.

All you can hear is the rustling of papers, light footsteps, and maybe the pounding of your heart, depending on how little you studied. I was watching the proctor work her way down the row, handing out papers. I never know quite how to react when the proctors reach me. It’s never pleasant. But that day something completely unexpected happened. My proctor spoke.

She handed me my test booklet, then very quickly leaned in and surreptitiously whispered, “I love your blog!” Then she flashed me a quick smile – another strange first in the IB test room – and continued down the line.

I was left feeling completely shocked! My thoughts were sent completely off balance – I went from trying to remember the causes of the Civil War to wondering how in the world she knew about 17 and Baking. I almost laughed out loud! (Which would have been bad.)

And then something equally bizarre happened – the heavy knotted feeling in my stomach straightened itself out, and I began my test still smiling.

And when I got home? I made vanilla and coffee marble pound cake.

I am amazed by how many people at my school follow my blog. It’s not just students anymore, but even parents and teachers. People who I never talk to pass me in the hallway and tell me how much they like my photography. Teachers ask why I’ve never brought in anything for them. It’s a little embarrassing, but it’s really nice! Thanks to everyone who has made my day by bringing it up. This blog isn’t just for me anymore… it’s for all of you! :)

So I came home feeling like I wanted to bake, which happens most every day now. I settled on a pound cake and agonized over the two flavors before I settled on something simple – coffee and vanilla. The coffee comes out really strong in this soft, tightly crumbed pound cake, so only make it if you really like coffee. The cake isn’t moist, but the coffee flavor comes through really nicely and the glaze is a good touch.

The original recipe also calls for a white chocolate glaze. When I made my version with dark chocolate, I wasn’t sure if this would perhaps send the pound cake over the top with sweetness. But the glaze spreads very thin and is actually fantastic with the coffee, so please don’t shy away from it.

Vanilla and Coffee Marble Pound Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes a 9″x5″ loaf

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup plain yogurt (nonfat is okay)
1 tbsp dutch-processed cocoa powder
4 tsp ground coffee
4 tsp boiling water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9″x5″ loaf pan and set aisde.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, around 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating generously between each egg. Scrape down the sides and add the vanilla. Add half the flour mixture, then the yogurt, and then the other half of the flour mixture, beating until combined.

Separate the batter into two bowls. Combine the ground coffee and boiling water, and add to one bowl of batter. Add the cocoa powder too and combine.

Spoon the vanilla and the coffee batters into the loaf pan, alternating batters. Use a dull knife to swirl the two for a marbled look.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Cool loaf in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Pour the glaze (recipe follows) over the cake, letting it drip down the sides.

Chocolate Glaze
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes enough glaze for one 9″x5″ loaf

3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp milk
2 1/4 oz dark chocolate, melted and cooled

Whisk together the sugar and milk. Whisk in the melted chocolate until glaze is smooth, adding in more sugar if the mixture is too thin and milk if it is too thick (I added about 1 1/2 tbsp more of milk). Pour immediately over cooled pound cake.

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25 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Marta  |  May 16, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Yummy! I love pound cakes!!!
    I think it’s perfectly reasonable for people in your school to follow your blog: it’s awesome!!! I’m so glad your proctor’s whisper allowed you to relax and unwind for your test, I hope you did well :)

  • 2. Kristan Anne  |  May 16, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Looks delicious!

    I’m sure you did an outstanding job on your exam. Aren’t you glad it’s over?

  • 3. Baking Monster  |  May 16, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    def sounds like AP tests blah. im glad that helped you though. :) this looks great!

  • 4. kai  |  May 16, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    haha…the wave for IB. goodness, all the SL people this year for physics had this look of “what is wrong with you guys.” they didn’t do the wave. it was cut off so many times…and started up again by the 2nd year students…..but then HL math had a PERFECT wave (except for one guy but we all know he doesn’t do it so we just skipped over him)…testing drains the life out of people, and even our wave is dying…

    hopefully next week is the last week for you? i don’t remember your schedule…but i can’t wait until the next time you bring something to school, even if it’s just cookies…although -ahem- after looking at today’s blog, anything coffee flavored sounds amazing. =]

  • 5. Elissa  |  May 16, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Kai – I’m bringing something Monday for Andy’s birthday :)

  • 6. kai  |  May 16, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    sweet! =] i forgot about that. XD

  • 7. Stephanie  |  May 16, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Push through those pesky IB tests!! Soon they will be far behind you and a distant, vaguely unpleasant memory…however, your new college friends may also consider you a triple-class nerd for embracing self-torture at such a young age, so be careful about the recipients of such classified information! :) Best of luck!

  • 8. Cristine  |  May 17, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Your cake looks great! And how awesome that you are being recognized for you blog! :)

  • 9. Amanda  |  May 17, 2009 at 5:15 am

    That’s such a great story, Elissa. You’re famous! :)

  • 10. Jess  |  May 17, 2009 at 7:37 am

    That’s really neat…lovely blog, by the way. I’ve been lurking so far…any good recipes for a custard/creme/whatever and berry cake?

  • 11. Elissa  |  May 17, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Jess – I’m wondering exactly what you mean… a cake with custard in it, like a lava cake or a mousse cake?

    I’ll definitely try to find something for you! :)

  • […] Caffeine spiked Vanilla and Coffee Marble Cake at 17 and […]

  • 13. Monica H  |  May 17, 2009 at 10:53 am

    How neat, and what a compliment. This cake looks delicious. I am a coffee lover and this is right up my alley!

  • 14. Evan  |  May 17, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    That glaze looks to die for. Wow.

  • 15. April  |  May 17, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Just found your blog. Love it!
    I just started a baking blog and I’m going to try to do the monthly Iron Cupcake challeges, and possibly a Tuesdays With Dorie when the cookbook comes. I definitely want to try some of your recipes. They all look great. I can’t believe the brownies with the black beans… who would have ever guessed BLACK BEANS?!
    I’ve been baking for quite a while myself, but wish I had it together like you when I was 17.
    I’m also a big fan of my Kitchen Aid mixer. Best kitchen tool ever.

    Keep up the good work. And good luck on getting the Canon camera. I’m going to try to get a Nikon soon myself – currently have a Sony CyberShot.

  • 16. Eliana  |  May 17, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    What an amazing looking cake. You outdid yourself with this one.

  • 17. Julia @ Mélanger  |  May 18, 2009 at 2:19 am

    Ha ha. Too funny. I read through your story and just giggled. Firstly from the tight stomach knots you mentioned pre-test (I just recently finished some graduate study last year so remember the feeling well), to the references for not bringing in ‘treats’ to school. I get the same all the time at work. Sometimes I think people think we’re different people. I think it’s amazing you’re juggling all your study and this blog and who knows whatever else. I wish I had your focus at 17! :)

  • 18. Jen  |  May 18, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Your writing is a vivid and humorous delight. You made me remember those “exam” feelings all too well!

  • 19. Abby  |  May 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    That looks delicious! :D

  • 20. Jess  |  May 18, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Thank you! How nice!

    That ubiquitous, yet delicious cake…the sponge cake sandwiched between creme anglaise or some sort of custardy filling, with jam in the middle and cream cheese frosting on top, or some variation…

    We can trade. Give me a recipe, I’ll bake something for you. :) My food blog is all too sparse and needs some life…

  • 21. Sophie  |  May 19, 2009 at 8:09 am

    A great way to finish off the day. I love the chocolate glaze on this, it reminds me of my favorite donut :)!

  • 22. MKerwin  |  May 19, 2009 at 9:34 am

    I have to admit when I read “IB” i got way confused and thought of irritable bowel for some reason. Then I kept reading, and I guess it’s like AP exams?? Different parts of the country have different lingo!

    Awesome that your teacher reads it :)

  • 23. Elissa  |  September 5, 2009 at 11:07 am

    MKerwin – Super late response, but IB is similar to AP. The two have different styles of testing but you get college credit, etc. For IB you’re required to take and pass 6 tests in different subjects, and the score is out of 7 instead of 5.

  • 24. eatlifetothefullest  |  April 14, 2010 at 6:35 am

    HEY! I’m 17, a fellow IB-sufferer, + a superly passionate baker. borderline obsessed. :) & i’ve baked heaps of yums & would love to start a food blog like yours one day, when IB isn’t my life anymore. checked out it’s sad i laugh till i fall off my chair at so many of them. :)

  • 25. Sujith Abraham  |  October 2, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    My wife and I tried your recipe and it was spot on. Thanks for sharing. Big fans!!


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Elissa Bernstein

I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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