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JOY OF BAKING

Reverse pound cake (Chocolate pound cake with vanilla swirl)

(Styling/karoline boehm goodnick; Erik jacobs for the globe)
By Lisa Zwirn
Globe Correspondent / January 28, 2009

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Makes 1 loaf cake

What mother hasn't created something to please (or appease) her children? Birthday dinners in our house cater to the honoree. Children and husband choose the menu, and the meal becomes the family celebration. This year my younger son asked for fried chicken (what a mess!), Israeli couscous salad, and corn-on-the-cob. For dessert he wanted his favorite marble pound cake, a vanilla loaf with a chocolate swirl running through the center. But, he asked, "Can you reverse the swirl?" In other words, a rich chocolate cake with an inner pocket of vanilla. The cake is assembled in three layers, with chocolate on the top and bottom and vanilla in the center, which I hoped would swirl into the dark mixtures. It worked! My son claims the "reverse pound cake" is his. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Butter (for the pan)
2cups flour
1 1/2teaspoons baking powder
1/4teaspoon baking soda
1/4teaspoon salt
5tablespoons butter, melted
6tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
10tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3cups granulated sugar
2eggs, at room temperature
1teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4cup sour cream
Confectioners' sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Butter an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the paper.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a small bowl, combine the 5 tablespoons of melted butter with the cocoa; mix until smooth.

4. In an electric mixer, beat the 10 tablespoons of softened butter 1 to 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat well for 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla and sour cream.

5. With the beaters set on low speed, add the flour mixture just until combined. Remove 1 cup of batter and set aside.

6. Add the cocoa mixture to the remaining batter and beat on low speed just until fully blended. Spread half of the chocolate batter in the pan and smooth the surface.

7. Spread the vanilla batter on top, then cover with the remaining chocolate batter. With a rubber spatula, smooth the top. Use a table knife to make 5 crosswise cuts through the batter, zigzagging the knife to create a marbling effect.

8. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes.

9. Turn the cake out, peel off the parchment paper, and set the cake right side up on a rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.