For Christmas my brother asked me to recommend a foodie book for him to get for our mother, I had just heard Seattle food author Greg Atkinson talk with KUOW’s Megan Sukys and was excited to get my hands on his latest book, At the Kitchen Table: The craft of cooking at home. As it turns out, my mother and I both listen to a lot of KUOW, because she was just as excited to receive the book from my brother and she was to give it to me.
I highly recommend the book. Atkinson has a great writing voice and the recipes are, of course, top-notch. I’ve said many times that food is about who you share the meal with, Atkinson fully embodies this as he introduces the reader to his grandmother and her pot roast or describes the family meals at his restaurants. I was excited to read that Atkinson and his wife are also hard-core winter picnickers, and as he described one of their first dates, I was reminded of a my own winter walks complete with ham sandwiches and nervous questions.
“When less hardy souls have shuttered themselves indoors, the most scenic spots are yours and yours alone. There are no bugs to speak of, and any company you manage to coax along is bound to be bold and interesting. What’s more, in the cold winter air, everything tastes ten times better than it does in the forced heat of the indoors.”
This winter I’ve spent many evenings curled up in bed reading and plotting my next meal. Perhaps it is the cold weather, or all the food writing I’m reading, but I get to the middle of the week, and I have an undeniable need to bake a cake. Chocolate marble pound cake, banana cake, coffee cake, and brownies, lots of brownies.
This particular cake is from Atkinson’s book, based on his mother’s 1-2-3-4 Bundt cake recipe. It is as simple as cakes get, and can be mixed together on a Wednesday evening while sharing a cup of tea with a good friend. It is good the next day too served at an impromptu tea party. If you have any affinity at all for baking, you probably have the ingredients in your kitchen already. Personally, my favorite part of the recipe is the addition of brown sugar to the cocoa fudge center, which I think adds a lovely flavor and depth to the cake. The recipe doesn’t specify light or dark brown sugar, but I encourage you to use as dark as you can find to get that rich caramel molasses flavor.
I highly recommend the book and the cake and I at the risk of losing my winter monopoly on all the most scenic spots, I strongly encourage you to experience a winter picnic.
Fudge Marble Pound Cake
from Greg Atkinson’s At the Kitchen Table
The recipe is written for either a loaf pan or a bundt pan, I didn’t have either when I made my cake so I used a 9″ round cake pan, and it worked just fine. Use what you have, it will taste good no matter what, just keep an eye on the baking time.
1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Grease a 8- or 10-cup Bundt pan, a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan, or a 9-inch round cake pan with butter, dust with flour and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350º.
In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until it is smooth, then, while continuing to mix slowly add the sugar. Mix until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Sir in the vanilla
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Alternating with the milk, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in four or five additions. Mix well after each addition.
Transfer all but about 1 cup of the batter to the cake pan. Stir in the brown sugar and cocoa powder into the remaining batter. Spoon the cocoa mixture on top of the batter in the pan. Run a knife through the two batters to mix slightly, giving it the marbled look. Do not completely combine them.
Bake the cake for about 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.