Marbled Pound Cake with Chocolate Glaze   Recipe
Marbled Pound Cake with Chocolate Glaze

By Wolfgang Puck

When I want a sweet treat everyone can agree on, I make pound cake.

Wherever I've traveled, from Austria to Japan, France and Italy to the United States, this easy, moist, tender cake traditionally made from equal parts of flour, eggs, butter, and sugar is universally loved.

It's humble comfort food, yet so rich and delicious that it feels like pure indulgence.

If I close my eyes, I can still smell the wonderful marbled chocolate-and-vanilla pound cake my mother baked on weekends and served for breakfast on Sunday mornings, accompanied by big cups of hot chocolate. Though we led a modest life, such a meal was pure luxury.

For all their satisfying results, pound cakes are simple to make: Combine the dry ingredients, including baking powder and baking soda to lighten the batter; beat together the butter and sugar, then beat in eggs one at a time, which incorporates air for an even lighter cake; and combine the ingredients in batches so they blend evenly. My recipe also includes buttermilk, which adds a subtle tang and, along with the leavening agents, lifts the batter even more.

There are so many ways to flavor pound cake. As my mother did, I like to divide the batter, flavor each portion differently, and swirl them together for a marbled effect. Many people add lemon juice and zest, as in the sensational lemon pound cake pastry chef Sherry Yard makes at Spago Beverly Hills. I've had coffee or mocha pound cakes; orange, berry, or coconut ones; and others with cinnamon or nutmeg. The options go on and on.

And you don't even have to make them in a loaf pan. Doubled in quantity, the batter bakes well in a Bundt pan, which takes about 1-1/2 hours. Or make cupcakes, which bake in 20 to 25 minutes.

Pound cake stays moist and delicious for days thanks to all the butter. If you make yours ahead, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it; then cut it slice by slice and warm it in the toaster or under the broiler before serving. For shorter-term storage, just keep it at cool room temperature under a cake dome or in an airtight container.

Of course, if pound cake is at all in sight on my own kitchen counter, it never lasts very long!

Marbled Pound Cake with Chocolate Glaze Recipe

Makes 1 Loaf

Recipe Ingredients - Pound Cake

4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces, plus extra for greasing

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cage-free eggs

1 cup organic buttermilk

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Recipe Ingredients - Chocolate Glaze

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces

3 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/3 cup brandy

Recipe Preparation

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With butter, coat the bottom and sides of an 8-1/2-by-3-1/2-by-2-1/2-inch loaf pan.

For the cake, in a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed. Gradually add the sugar, then increase the speed to high and continue beating until fluffy. One at a time, add the eggs, beating just until each has blended in. Reduce the speed to low and beat in a third of the flour mixture; then half of the buttermilk; then another third of the flour mixture; then the remaining buttermilk and the vanilla; and, finally, the remaining flour mixture.

Scrape two thirds of the batter into the loaf pan. Add the cocoa to the batter remaining in the bowl, and beat at low speed until blended. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. Drop large spoonfuls of the chocolate batter over the batter in the pan; then, inserting the blade of a narrow metal spatula or a table knife vertically into the pan, swirl through the batters to combine them partially for a marbled effect.

Bake the pound cake until a long wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

When the cake has cooled completely, run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to separate the cake. Invert the pan onto the rack and lift it away to unmold the cake. Turn the cake right side up. Place a pan below the rack to capture glaze drips.

To make the glaze, bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. In a medium heatproof bowl large enough to rest on the pan's rim without touching the water, combine the chocolate and butter. Set the bowl over the simmering water and leave until the chocolate and butter have melted almost completely; then, turn off the heat and let the mixture continue melting, stirring occasionally. With a wire whisk, stir in the corn syrup and brandy. Carefully pour the mixture through a fine-meshed strainer into a clean liquid measuring cup.

Drizzle the warm glaze evenly over the cake. Leave until the glaze has set.

Slip a long, sturdy spatula under the cake and transfer to a flat serving platter or cutting board. To serve, cut crosswise with a sharp serrated knife.

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Desserts by the Yard


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