I like to think of myself as quite a savvy individual. I mean, I know how to use chopsticks, I can hail a cab, I know which end of a chicken the eggs come out from. Yet apparently I wasn’t always so streetwise.
The scene: My first trip to the British Museum upon arriving in London as an undergraduate.
The objective: To see The Elgin Marbles.
The faux pas: I spent a great deal of time striding past some big, flattish statues hanging on the museum wall while I searched for the cabinet containing what I could only imagine to be a bag of marbles I assumed had once belonged to Elgin.
Did I question why Elgin’s bag of marbles was so impressive? Or indeed why it needed a a gallery all to itself? No, I did not. Thank goodness I went on to do an English degree that taught me about homonyms.
This is a cautionary tale: Today’s cupcakes are also homonymonous – what with them being marbled (the result of combining white and dark chocolate cake mixtures). To avoid further confusion, the finished product may be referred to as The Hudson Marbles.
This recipe is taken from the Australian Women’s Weekly Complete Book of Cupcakes and Baking.
For the dark mud cake
85g butter, chopped
75 g dark eating chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup self-raising flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
For the white mud cake
85g butter, chopped
75 g white eating chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup milk
2/3 cup plain flour
1/4 cup self-raising flour
1. Preheat oven to 160 oC. Grease two six-hole large muffin pans.
2. Make dark mud cake by combining butter, chocolate, sugar and milk in medium saucepan over low heat until melted. Transfer to medium bowl to cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in sifted flours and cocoa, then egg.
3. Make white mud cake by combining butter, chocolate, sugar and milk in medium saucepan over low heat until melted. Transfer to medium bowl to cool for 10 minutes. Whisk in sifted flours, then egg.
4. Drop alternate spoonfuls of the mixture into pan holes. Pull skewer back and forth through cake mixture for a marbled effect. Bake about 30 minutes; allow to cool.
Lovely lovely white chocolate…
… Which then gets melted with butter, sugar and milk into this vaguely disgusting puddle.
Do the same with the dark chocolate.
I’d get that seen by a doctor actually.
Meanwhile, build Hamburger Hill from cocoa powder and flour.
When you’ve finished melting your chocolate-mixes, you should have two bowls, like so.
Now, I thought I would conduct a small experiment with these cakes *stifles maniacal cackle*. I wanted to know what difference could be made by not using cases like I usually do. The holes on the far right have been greased with vegetable oil.
For the chocolate cake, add the dry ingredients to the bowl of melted chocolate.
Add an egg to make it stiff and glossy.
Once you’ve done the same with the white chocolate, you should have two bowls like this.
Experimental case-filling. For some I’ve started filling with white choc, before topping up with dark. And vice versa.
To get the marbled effect, use a skewer (I used a chopstick) to drag the mixture around inside the case.
When I lived in China I used chopsticks every day for every meal – including the homesick tuna pasta I was able to cobble together in my apartment. Since I’ve been back in the UK, this is the only time I’ve had a use for them (well, one of them).
They remind me a little of these beauties:
Fresh from the oven, you can see some have worked better than others. The cakes on the left are caseless, and are probably the best. On the whole they all look pretty neat.
The white chocolate with the dark on top seems to have worked best – or at least resulted in the most impressive appearance.
This is one of the caseless cakes. Thanks to lashing of vegetable oil, it came out of the tin perfectly. Result!
The swirls on the top keep it looking interesting.
And it’s worked rather nicely inside too.
The cakes with no cases are slightly smaller than the rest. Perfect for snack time!
It’s almost a shame to hide the marbled effect under some frosting. But not enough of a shame to stop me doing it.
Besides, if the top is frosted, you can surprise people when they bite into it. Like the 21st century equivalent of hiding a sixpence in a plum pudding – but without the fear of your guest breaking a tooth – followed by some no-win-no-fee litigation.
I used a simple chocolate buttercream frosting recipe and applied it with a palette knife. I was given this palette knife as part of a job-lot from my lovely mum when I went to university. Now I’ve finally found a use for it!
Scrumptious. It’s basically the sanctioned eating-of-two-cakes-at-once. Winning!
Because of the two colours, it produces a more interesting cake than usual. The flavour is quite rich and sweet – and doesn’t use too much flour.
Reading through the recipe beforehand, there seemed to be a lot of stages. However, once I got started, it was all very simple. You’ll need two clean saucepans and two clean (big-ish) bowls – so there’s more washing-up than usual.
End Note: While searching for pictures of marbles, I came across this beguiling movie poster:
I have no idea what it’s about, considering there’s
no blurb no blurb in English on IMDB. Marbles, I would have to assume.
I don’t know if you can quite make it out, but inside those two marbles are a swastika and a Star of David. Goodness knows what that means. The kids certainly don’t look too worried. It’s all gallic good-naturedness. Probably.
Better not let the Daily Mail get hold of this – they’ll only use it as an opportunity to try and ban school French-exchanges or something.
“HAVE THE FRENCH LOST THEIR MARBLES?” the headline will read. Pointing to the poster they’ll ask: “DO YOU WANT THESE GLASSY-EYED RACE-MONGERS LEADING YOUR CHILDREN ASTRAY?”
And people will say… “Listen, I just came to this blog to read about cake and enjoy your light-hearted attempts at humour, and now I find things have taken a very confusing and unsettling turn. Let’s have less of this next time around, thank you very much.”
So there we have it. No good can come of marbles – Elgin’s, French, or otherwise. Unless of course you’re cramming them into your mouth in cake form.