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Mary’s modern classics: Chocolate & vanilla swirl cake 

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Sometimes called marble cake, this is the perfect slice to go with a cuppa. Also good served warm as a dessert with custard.


COOK TIME 40-45 minutes, plus cooling

225g (8oz) caster sugar

225g (8oz) self-raising flour

225g (8oz) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1-1½ tbsp boiling water

icing sugar, for dusting

1 You will need a 23cm (9in) round, loose-bottomed cake tin and two piping bags, each with a wide plain nozzle or cut end (see tips). Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4, then grease the tin with butter and line the base with a disc of baking paper.

2 Measure the sugar and flour into a large bowl with the butter, baking powder, milk and vanilla extract. Add the eggs and beat with an electric hand whisk until light and smooth.

3 Spoon half this mixture into a separate bowl. Mix the cocoa powder with enough of the boiling water to make a thick paste (see tips), then stir into the batter in one bowl. Spoon the chocolate mixture into one piping bag and the rest of the cake batter (the vanilla mixture) into the other.

4 Pipe 2 tablespoons of vanilla mixture into the centre of the prepared cake tin to form a circle. Pipe a ring of chocolate mixture around the vanilla. Continue to pipe alternating rings of vanilla and chocolate so it looks like an archery target. If you have any cake mixture left in the piping bags by the time you reach the edge of the tin, go back over some of the rings you have already made.

5 Level the top of the cake and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until well risen and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool down completely. Dust with icing sugar to serve.


♥ Can be made up to a day ahead.


♥ Freezes well.


♥ Disposable icing bags, available from most supermarkets, are the easiest ones to use here. Snip a good-sized hole (2cm-3cm/¾ in-1¼ in) in the end of each bag to make nice wide bands of alternating colours for the cake.

♥ Add the boiling water cautiously, a few drops at a time, to get to a thick paste that will mix easily into the cake batter.



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