Vanilla- and chestnut-flavored batters are baked together to form a quintessential coffee cake that is excitingly different, yet exceptionally simple to mix and bake. Be certain to obtain sweetened créme de marron purée, often available in the jam or specialty food section of supermarkets, rather than unsweetened chestnut purée. I have served this cake with fresh jumbo strawberries for dessert, as well as for brunch. A fluted pan, known as a kugelhof mold, will bake the batter into a handsome cake that is suitable for a pedestal cake stand, but the plain tube pan, also known as an angel food cake pan, will be just as beautiful.
Yield: One 10-inch bundt or tube cake, or two 9-by-5-inch loaves
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups sour cream
- One 8 3/4-ounce can imported French sweetened chestnut spread (créme de marron)
- 2 ounces (1/3 cup) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 325º. Grease and flour a 10-inch plain or fluted tube pan, bundt pan, or two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream, blending just until smooth.
3. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sour cream mixture and beat well until fluffy, and smooth yet thick, about 2 minutes. There should be no lumps or dry spots. Remove 1 cup of the batter and place in a small bowl. Add the chestnut spread and chocolate chips. Stir briskly to evenly combine.
4. With a large spatula, scrape half of the vanilla batter into the prepared tube pan. Gently top with half of the chestnut batter. Layer the remaining vanilla batter over the top and finish with the remaining chestnut batter. Place a butter knife straight down into the batter and gently swirl around the pan once or twice, distributing the chestnut batter.
5. Bake in the center of the preheated oven 60 to 65 minutes for the tube pans and 45 to 50 minutes for the loaves, or until a cake tester comes out clean and the top of the cake is no longer shiny. Let stand in the pan for 15 minutes before removing from the pan by inverting the cake onto a rack right side up to cool completely. Combine the powdered sugar and the cocoa in a small sieve, place the rack over a piece of waxed paper, and dust the mixture over the cake. Transfer the cooled cake to a serving plate. Serve at room temperature, cut into wedges. This cake freezes well for up to 2 months, but dust with the cocoa powdered sugar just before serving.
Excerpted from The Best Quick Breads, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2000, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.
Recipe and text copyright Beth Hensperger 2014
Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.