• Juliette Wills

Mocha Marble Cake

My mum used to make this fab cake in the '80s. I haven't had it since, but feeling nostalgic, I thought I'd give it a go. You'll be glad I did, because now you can make it


The '80s were a whirl of great desserts - Black Forest gateau, brandy snaps, trifle (I hate trifle but that's beside the point), baked Alaska and lemon sorbet. My parents would have friends over for dinner and I'd pull up the carpet in my bedroom (because I was mental) and attempt - and fail - to listen to their conversation. Sometimes I'd write notes and ask if I could 'come in and say hello just quickly please I beg you please' and often I'd be allowed into the dining room to sit on a lap. If it was their friends Chrissie (tight perm) and Pete (piercing blue eyes) who were guests, I'd be on Pete's lap quicker than you could say, 'More Libfraumilch?' because Pete was a rally driver and looked like Crocodile Dundee and rightly thought I was the nuts. Even at the age of six I had impeccable taste. I had a crush on him and his son, Paul, at the same time. Paul was like, eight. Anyway, Mum would save me a brandy snap and I'd go off to bed, dreaming of being grown up enough to usurp Chrissie and steal her husband. Told you I was mental. Around this time I remember Mum making this cake - it may not have been exactly the same, but it was close. She was a big fan of using Stork margarine rather than butter (all the voms) so I know mine is better. Sorry, Mum.

INGREDIENTS 175g/6oz butter 175g/6oz caster sugar 3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 225g/8oz self-raising flour Pinch of salt 2 tablespoons milk (I use Oatly Barista as I don’t drink cow’s milk) 2 tablespoons cocoa powder 2 tablespoons strong black coffee, cooled (don't piss about, make it like you're making an espresso for an Robert De Niro)

METHOD 1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Grease and line a 900g/2lb loaf tin or 20cm/8in round tin. To be honest, I never have the right sized tins despite having a draw full of the things, so do your best. 2. Beat the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until very pale and fluffy. Add the beaten egg, a little at a time. Whisk well while you add the eggs, then whisk in the vanilla extract. 3. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, then gently fold it into the butter and egg mixture - as though you were stroking a cat, not beating a carpet. 4. Divide the mixture into two equal portions. Add the milk to one portion of the mixture, stirring gently. 5. Mix the cocoa powder and the coffee together in a mug to form a smooth paste, and stir into the other portion of the cake batter. 6. This is where shit gets real. Spoon large dollops of each cake mixture into the prepared tin, alternating the mixtures to give a marble effect. I put five dollops of the pale mixture in a zig-zag formation then the mocha mixture between those. Do it again with the top layer but put the mocha on top of the vanilla and vice versa. Or do whatever you want, I’m no expert. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the cake is springy to the touch and a wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. I once kissed Gary Lineker on the cheek at a book signing and his face felt like a just-done cake. It was magical (for me, at least). 7. As always, the hard bit is the last bit - allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely before slicing and remarking enthusiastically about how good it tastes. My French husband likes it for breakfast dipped in his Americano because he’s a bit disgusting. I recommend enjoying a slice with a coffee. Don't even think about accompanying it with a cup of tea, for crying out loud.

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