This small, fearless wildling we literally just brought home from the hospital turned three a couple weeks ago, but despite my certainty that we just got her, I won’t lie, this feels like a gazillion years ago because when did she not have hair. Strangers on the street often ask us about her hair, and I get it, I do. She’s small, it is big, and also red and with spiral curls going in every direction and there are three other members of our family and none of us have spiral curls or red hair. This isn’t the only way she’s already her own fierce little person. I was definitely not into dolls or dresses growing up, so I watch with awe as she plays for hours with her very pink baby doll, the doll’s stroller, the doll’s purse, the doll’s crib and high chair; when she comes home after being out all day, she likes to sit quietly with her baby on her lap on the sofa for a while to catch up and it is, objectively (I am known for my objectivity when talking about my kids), one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen.
So when asked what kind of birthday cake she wanted, she said “PINK!” And I said, “But what flavor?” “Pink.” And also, “Not brown, Yacob likes brown.” (This is true.) And I thought about making the pink lady cake but we ended up not having a big party that required so much cake, just bringing cupcakes to camp* and then going out to dinner with family. Instead, I went in a simpler direction, loosely inspired by a marbled pink and white cake we saw in the pastry case at Starbucks (but didn’t try so no idea how the taste lines up), a few weeks before. Adding a spoonful of raspberry puree into the glaze turning it ferociously pink, much to her glee, and stretching it into this doughnut-shaped pan I bought earlier this summer on a whim made it look like a giant pink emoji of a doughnut, an unequivocal hit with three year-olds, eight year-olds, and everyone who saw the cake go by at the restaurant. [I resisted the urge to say “And the color is all natural! And that’s not plasticky fondant!” — for once — but it was hard.]
Of course, you do not need a cutesy cake pan to make this. You can make it as a single loaf or double it in a traditional tube or bundt. You also don’t need much time; I made this entire cake in under two hours and it goes even faster if you don’t have to cool it so the glaze stays in place. As a birthday cake after a big dinner, it was exactly right — not too heavy or sweet, but still cute as a button. It would be great for brunch or lunch this weekend or, you know, now. It’s Cake O’Clock somewhere, right?
* I used the berry buttercream and sheet cake from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook to make pink frosting on vanilla cupcakes.
One year ago: German Chocolate Cake + A Wedding Cake
Two years ago: Eggplant with Tomato and Yogurt Relish and Blueberry Bread and Butter Pudding
Three years ago: Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles with Cucumber
Four years ago: Summer Squash Gratin with Salsa Verde and Bourbon Slush Punch
Five years ago: Mama Canales-Garcia’s Avocado Shrimp Salsa and Banana Nutella and Salted Pistachio Popsicles
Six years ago: Zucchini Bread Pancakes and Zucchini Tomato and Rice Gratin
Seven years ago: Corn Buttermilk and Chive Popovers and Sugar Plum Crepes with Ricotta and Honey
Eight years ago: Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons, Raspberry Brown Sugar Gratin and Summer Succotash with Bacon and Croutons
Nine years ago: Watermelon Lemonade, Light Brioche Burger Buns, Blueberry Boy Bait, and Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza
Ten years ago: Nectarine Mascarpone and Gingersnap Tart and Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte
Eleven years ago: Pearl Couscous with Olives and Tomatoes and Zucchini Bread
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Banana Oat Weekday Pancakes and Stromboli, Scaccia-Style
1.5 Years Ago: An Easier Way To Make Cookies and Guacamole
2.5 Years Ago: Cabbage and Sausage Casserole and Leek, Ham, Cheese and Egg Bake
3.5 Years Ago: Make Your Own Vanilla Extract and Fried Egg Salad
4.5 Years Ago: Homemade Dulce de Leche and Cheese Blintz
Marbled Raspberry Pound Cake
- Butter or cooking spray to coat pan
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
- Finely grated zest from half a lemon
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour plus 1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/2 cup (125 grams) sour cream, reme fraiche, or full-fat plain yogurt
- 1 gently heaped cup (140 grams or 5 ounces) fresh raspberries
- 3/4 cup (90 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon raspberry puree (for a pink glaze, from a few tablespoons or 1 ounce fresh raspberries), or lemon juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Place sugar and salt in a large bowl. Zest lemon into sugar and rub it together with your fingertips; this helps the lemon release the most flavor from it. Add butter and use an electric mixer to beat it with the sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with each addition. Scrape down bowl. Sprinkle cake surface with baking powder and mix it until very well combined. Scrape down sides of bowl again. Add 1 cup (only) of the flour and beat just until it’s no longer visible.
Place raspberries in the bottom of a second medium-large bowl and mash with a fork until mostly broken down but still a little lumpy; you’ll have about 1/2 cup mashed. [If you really dislike raspberry seeds and/or want a smoother look, you can blend the berries until smooth and press them through a fine-mesh strainer — into this second bowl — to remove seeds.] Pour half of the cake batter on top of raspberries (if you have a scale, you can zero out the weight of the bowl and raspberries; half the batter weights 277 grams) but wait, don’t mix it yet.
Instead, go back to the first bowl of batter, the one without raspberries, and add sour cream. Beat to combine. Add 1/4 cup flour, and beat just until smooth. (By beating the “white” batter first, you can reuse you beaters without washing them for the pink batter without muddying the look.)
Beat the raspberries and second half of the cake batter together until smooth. the raspberry sauce into the other half of the batter until combined. Add final 1/4 cup flour, and beat just until smooth.
Dollop batters in alternating spoonfuls into bottom of prepared loaf pan. Roughly “checkerboard” the rest in, meaning that you’ll drop a pink batter dollop and then a white one and vice-versa until both batters are used up. Drop your pan onto the counter a couple times from a few inches high, to help tap out air bubbles. Use a butter knife or small offset spatula to make a few figure-8s through the batters, marbling them together — but just a little, say, 4 to 5 figure-8s. Any more and the swirls may not look distinct when you cut the cake.
Bake loaf cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free. Let cool for 15 minutes in pan, then run a knife around cake and gently remove. Let cake cool completely on rack (I hasten this along in the freezer) before glazing, if using a glaze.
To make your glaze, place powdered sugar in a medium bowl and add raspberry puree (for this, it’s best if you press the berries through a fine-mesh sieve to remove seeds, or it won’t have a smooth pink look) or lemon juice. Whisk to combine, but it will almost definitely be too thick. From here, add milk, a teaspoon at a time, until you can whisk the sugar into a thick but loose glaze. Spoon on top of cooled cake and nudge it to the edges with your spoon or an offset spatual so that it drips where you’d like it to. Cover with sprinkles, if using.
Cake keeps for 4 to 5 days in the fridge. If there’s no milk in your glaze, you can store it at room temperature.