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marble cake with rocher glaze

How to make Marble Cake (François Perret’s recipe)

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This marble cake recipe by renowned pastry chef François Perret has been dubbed “the best marble cake” by so many bakers. I just had to try it! And let me tell you, I’ve made this cake five times in the past two weeks and it always disappears within a few hours! It’s perfect for breakfast, with an afternoon tea, after dinner…

marble cake with rocher glaze

Somehow this post turned out much longer than I had anticipated! So I thought I’d include a table of contents to make it easier for you! Despite the length of this post, the cake is actually really easy to make. I just wanted to give you a few options for doing specific steps, so you could pick the best one for you.

Preparing Marble Cake: Two Separate Batters

The marble cake is made up of two parts: the vanilla batter and the chocolate batter. The original recipe calls for preparing each batter separately. This might seem like a lot of trouble but the batter is actually so easy to make that you’ll have everything ready in no time!

The vanilla batter contains vanilla extract and slightly more flour. While the chocolate batter contains cocoa powder. Other than that, the recipe and process are exactly the same.

I’ll first show you how to make the recipe as recommended by the chef. But if you’d rather make one batter and then divide it before adding the cocoa powder and vanilla, you can jump right ahead to the next section.

close up shot of marble cake slice coated with rocher glaze

Vanilla batter

Ingredients

  • 110 g (3.9 oz.) all-purpose flour

  • 3 g (0.11 oz.) baking powder

  • 60 g (2.1 oz.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

  • 150 g (5.3 oz.) granulated sugar

  • 2 g (0.07 oz.) fleur de sel (or table salt)

  • 1 large egg, at room temperature

  • 100 g (3.5 oz., 99 ml/3.3 fl. oz.) heavy cream (35% fat)

  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • Sift the flour and baking powder together into a small bowl and set aside.
  • Put the butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and mix for just a few seconds. Don’t mix until the ingredients are fully combined. Mixing without a food processor: If you don’t have a food processor, you can simply mix by hand, using a wooden spoon or a hand mixer.
  • Add the egg and process for a few seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the sifted flour and baking powder and process again for a few seconds.
  • Pour the heavy cream and vanilla extract and process until fully combined and smooth. If your heavy cream is cold, warm it a little in the microwave to about 25°C (77°F) before using it.
  • Using a large spoon, transfer the vanilla batter to a piping bag (no need for a piping tip). Close the top of the piping bag (with a rubber band for example) and refrigerate until needed. If you don’t want to use a piping bag, simply transfer to another bowl, cover and refrigerate.
  • Wash and dry the food processor bowl before making the chocolate batter.

Chocolate batter

Ingredients

  • 100 g (3.5 oz.) all-purpose flour

  • 20 g (0.7 oz.) unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 3 g (0.11 oz.) baking powder

  • 60 g (2.1 oz.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

  • 150 g (5.3 oz.) granulated sugar

  • 2 g (0.07 oz.) fleur de sel (or table salt)

  • 1 large egg, at room temperature

  • 100 g (3.5 oz., 99 ml/3.3 fl. oz.) heavy cream (35% fat)

  • In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Set aside.
  • Put the butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of the food processor and mix for just a few seconds. Don’t mix until the ingredients are fully combined.
  • Add the egg and process for a few seconds.
  • Add the flour mixture and process again for a few seconds.
  • Pour the heavy cream and process until fully combined and smooth. If your heavy cream is cold, warm it a little in the microwave to about 25°C (77°F) before using it.
  • Using a large spoon, transfer the chocolate batter to a piping bag. The chocolate batter is thicker than the vanilla batter and can easily be piped, even if it’s not refrigerated first. If you don’t want to use a piping bag, simply transfer to another bowl, if desired, or keep in the food processor bowl.
slices of marble cake showing different patterns

Preparing Marble Cake Using One Batter

If you’d rather make the simplified version, be careful not to overmix the batter. If you are worried about that, I would recommend filling the pan with batter and then refrigerating it for a few hours (or overnight). This will allow the gluten formed to relax and the texture of the cake will be improved.

Putting a cold cake in a hot oven will also give rise to a nice bump in your cake, due to the large temperature difference.

I personally don’t refrigerate the batter as my kids can’t wait that long before eating the cake! But if you are looking for a make-ahead recipe, then this cake is perfect!

Prepare the main batter

  • Weigh your mixing bowl and keep a note of the result. This step is optional but it will make it easier for you to divide the batter equally.
  • Sift 200 g (7.1 oz.) of flour and 6 g (0.21 oz.) of baking powder into a bowl and set aside.
  • Cream 120 g (4.2 oz.) of softened butter for a minute in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. You can mix by hand instead, using a wooden spoon.
  • Add 300 g (10.6 oz.) of sugar and 4 g (0.14 oz.) of salt and mix again for a minute.
  • Mix in the two eggs, one at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl whenever needed.
  • Add the flour mixture in two additions and mix until almost fully combined. If the batter becomes too thick, add a little bit of the heavy cream to loosen it.
  • Pour 200 g (7.1 oz.) of heavy cream and slightly fold it in with a spatula first (to avoid getting splattered) then mix on low speed just until fully combined. Don’t overmix.

Divide the batter

  • Pour half the batter into another bowl, about 443 g (15.6 oz.). If you want it to be precise, weigh the mixing bowl with the batter. Subtract from this result the weight of the empty bowl (previously recorded) to get the weight of the batter. You can now divide this amount by two.
  • Sift 20 g (0.7 oz.) of cocoa powder over one bowl and mix until smooth and fully combined.
  • Transfer to a piping bag if desired.
  • In the other bowl, mix in 10 g (0.35 oz.) of sifted flour.
  • Add 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla extract and mix until smooth and fully combined.
  • Transfer to a piping bag, if desired.

If you are planning on piping the batter, but you think the vanilla batter is a bit runny, you can refrigerate it for 5-10 minutes.

How To Line The Loaf Pan For The Marble Cake

To make sure the cake comes out easily, it’s best to line the loaf pan with parchment paper.

  • Place the loaf pan on top of a large piece of parchment paper. Make sure the paper is big enough to go up the sides of the pan and leave a small overhang. This way, you’ll be able to remove the hot cake without burning your fingers, accidentally smashing the cake against a wire rack and stomping your feet! Or maybe that’s just me?!
  • Cut out the four corners of the parchment paper by using the edges of the pan as a guide.
  • Grease your pan and place your parchment paper inside the pan. The butter will help it stay in place.
  • Grease the parchment paper.

We are now ready to fill the pan!

swirls created in marble cake batter

Creating The Marble Cake Pattern

  • Pipe alternating layers of vanilla batter and chocolate batter. There are several ways to create a marble pattern. These are just a few ideas: 1) You could pipe one large log of vanilla batter in the middle then one large log of chocolate batter on top. Keep repeating this until you use up all the batter. The batter will spread on its own as you keep adding more batter. 2) Pipe the batter in an S-shape as shown in the pictures, always alternating the batter.
  • Once you are done piping, create swirls using a knife. If you’re not sure how to do this, imagine drawing waves! Drag your knife left and right (without touching the bottom of the pan) along the length of the pan following an S-shape. Don’t get carried away and over-swirl or you’ll end up combining the two batters! And I would say to use a reasonable amount of batter each time, about a heaping tablespoon. If you use too little, there won’t be a huge distinction between the two layers.
  • Optional: Pipe a line of softened butter across the middle of the batter (lengthwise). This will minimize uneven cracking in the cake.

Zebra pattern

  • To make a zebra pattern, add a large spoonful of vanilla batter in the middle of the pan and repeat the process, alternating the batter used.
two slices of marble cake on small white plates

If you want the separate layers to be thicker than they are in the picture above, spoon the batter in three different places (top of the pan, middle and bottom). This will prevent the batter from spreading too much as you add more batter to the pan.

Baking The Marble Cake

This cake is baked at a low temperature, keeping it moist and delicious. If you have a fan setting, you could bake the cake at 145°C (293°F) for about 80 minutes. The fan will help the cake rise better.

I initially used the conventional setting of the oven set to 160°C (320°F). My first cake barely rose however and was a bit dense. When using a conventional setting, I would recommend starting off at a very high temperature (220°C/428°F) for 5 minutes and then reducing the temperature to 160°C (320°F) for about 70 minutes.

Making The Syrup For The Marble Cake

  • A few minutes before the end of the baking time, start preparing the syrup. Simply boil together the sugar and water, stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar has fully dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the rum or vanilla extract.

Don’t boil the syrup for too long. If too much water evaporates, the syrup will be thick and won’t seep into the cake properly. Turn off the heat when you see bubbles forming.

  • Once the cake is out of the oven, lift it out of the pan by holding the parchment paper and place it on a rack. Brush the top and sides of the cake with syrup until the cake no longer absorbs the syrup.

Don’t put too much syrup on the cake or it will get soggy and fall apart. Add only as much as needed. This will depend on several things such as how long you baked the cake, whether you used a fan setting or not, the type of flour used etc. Brush the cake once then wait 30 seconds before brushing again. Feel the surface of the cake with your fingers. If it’s still wet, stop adding syrup. If not, keep adding more syrup.

Wrapping The Marble Cake

It’s best to tightly cover the cake with plastic wrap while it’s still hot, to keep all the moisture in. Then you can let it cool down at room temperature for about 8 hours or overnight. The cake will soak up the syrup during that time and develop even more flavor.

I initially thought that wrapping the hot cake with plastic wrap was a bit tricky. But if you used parchment paper to line the pan, it’s actually really easy.

This is what worked best for me:

  • Place a large piece of plastic wrap (big enough to cover the cake completely) on the surface and sides of the cake.
  • Using the parchment paper, gently flip the cake to one side and wrap the bottom of the cake as much as possible. Then repeat with the other side until the cake has been fully wrapped.

Now comes the difficult part! Try not to eat the cake before it has had a chance to soak up all the syrup! I always have to hide it from my youngest kid, and remind him that it’s still missing the rocher glaze!

How To Make Rocher Glaze

It’s best to prepare everything you will need before starting.

Tools needed to glaze the cake

You will need:

  1. A wire rack to place the cake on it.
  2. A tray, to collect the excess chocolate.
  3. Two pieces of parchment paper to place on the tray: This is optional but it will make it easier to collect the chocolate and pour it again over the cake.
  4. Two offset spatulas to lift the cake and transfer it to the serving platter.

Making the chocolate glaze

  • Freeze the cake about an hour before starting with the glaze. Be careful not to freeze the wrapped cake in the pan. It will stick to it!
  • Chop the hazelnuts (or almonds) into very small pieces. I prefer to use a knife for this. But if you find it too time consuming, mix them in a food processor. I would recommend getting rid of the powder by placing the chopped nuts in a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. You could save the powder for another use, although the amount will be quite small.
  • Finely chop the chocolate. This will make it easier to melt the chocolate evenly and you’ll be less likely to overheat the chocolate.
  • Gently melt the chopped chocolate over a double boiler. You can use the microwave if you prefer but go very slowly. Heat for 30 seconds, stir. Then heat in about 10 seconds increments, stirring each time.

It’s best to stop heating before the chocolate has fully melted. The carry-over heat will continue melting the chocolate. Overheated chocolate won’t set properly and will be dull.

  • Pour the oil into the melted chocolate and stir until fully combined.

The oil will make the chocolate softer and more fluid. You’ll be able to pour it easily over the cake and cover the sides. But if you use too much oil, the chocolate will be too soft and won’t set properly. If you don’t use any oil, the chocolate will be hard to spread, will set very quickly but will have a nice crunch to it. Depending on your preferences and the chocolate you chose, use as much oil as needed to get to what you deem the perfect consistency.

  • Add the chopped toasted hazelnuts (or almonds if you prefer) and mix to combine.
  • Remove the cake from the freezer and unwrap it.

Pouring the rocher glaze over the cake

  • Place the cake on the prepared wire rack and start pouring the chocolate glaze.
  • Remove the first sheet of parchment paper, fold it slightly and pour the chocolate glaze over the cake. Repeat with the second sheet of parchment paper. Spoon the glaze that is in the tray and use it to cover up any gaps.
  • Wait for the chocolate to set a little. Then using two spatulas, lift the cake and transfer it to the serving platter. If the chocolate isn’t setting, place the cake in the fridge for 5 minutes before attempting to move it from the wire rack.

And that’s it! Once the chocolate has set properly and the cake is no longer frozen, prepare a cup of tea (or not!), find a nice quiet spot and enjoy an amazing marble cake!

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How to make Marble Cake (François Perret’s recipe)

5 from 1 vote
Difficulty: Easy
Servings

9

servings
Prep time

40

minutes
Cook time

1

hour 

15

minutes
Rest Time

8

hours 
Freeze time

1

hour

Easy marble cake recipe by renowned chef Francois Perret. This delicious cake, composed of vanilla and chocolate batter, is brushed with syrup and coated with rocher glaze.

Ingredients

  • For the main batter
  • 200 g (7.1 oz.) all-purpose flour

  • 6 g (0.21 oz.) baking powder

  • 120 g (4.2 oz.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

  • 300 g (10.6 oz.) granulated sugar

  • 4 g (0.14 oz.) fleur de sel (or table salt)

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 200 g (7.1 oz., 197 ml/6.7 fl oz.) heavy cream (35% fat)

  • For the chocolate batter
  • 20 g (0.7 oz.) unsweetened cocoa powder

  • For the vanilla batter
  • 10 g (0.35 oz.) all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • For the syrup
  • 100 g (3.5 oz., 100 ml/3.4 fl oz.) water

  • 20 g (0.7 oz.) granulated sugar

  • 6 g (0.21 oz.) rum (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

  • Chocolate rocher glaze
  • 200 g (7.1 oz.) chocolate (see notes)

  • 7 g (0.25 oz., 1/2 tablespoon) grapeseed oil (or sunflower oil) (see notes)

  • 80 g (2.8 oz.) toasted almonds or hazelnuts (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 220°C (428°F, conventional setting) and place the oven tray in the middle. If you have a convection setting, preheat the oven to 145°C (293°F) and keep the same temperature throughout the entire baking period.
  • Prepare the pan: Place a 23 cm (9 inch) loaf pan on top of a large piece of parchment paper. Make sure the paper is big enough to go up the sides of the pan and leave a small overhang. Cut out the four corners of the parchment paper by using the edges of the pan as a guide (see pictures in post if needed). Grease your pan and place your parchment paper inside the pan. The butter will help it stay in place. Grease the parchment paper.
  • Making the main batter
  • Weigh your mixing bowl and keep a note of the result. This step is optional but it will make it easier for you to divide the batter equally.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside.
  • Cream the softened butter for a minute in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. You can use a food processor (capacity of at least 7 cups) if you have one. You could also mix by hand if you prefer, using a wooden spoon.
  • Add the sugar and salt and mix again for a minute. Don’t worry if the ingredients aren’t fully combined. You don’t want to overmix.
  • Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the flour mixture in two additions and mix until almost fully combined. If the batter becomes too thick, add a little bit of the heavy cream to loosen it.
  • Pour the heavy cream into the batter and slightly fold it in with a spatula first (to avoid getting splattered) then mix on low speed just until fully combined. Don’t overmix so you don’t end up with a tough and dense cake. If your heavy cream is cold, warm it a little in the microwave to about 25°C (77°F) before using it.
  • Dividing the batter
  • Pour half the batter into another bowl, about 443 g (15.6 oz.). If you want it to be precise, weigh the mixing bowl with the batter. Subtract from this result the weight of the empty bowl (previously recorded) to get the weight of the batter. You can now divide this amount by two.
  • For the chocolate batter: Sift 20 g (0.7 oz.) of cocoa powder over one bowl and mix until smooth and fully combined. Transfer to a piping bag if desired. I prefer mixing by hand at this stage, using a spoon or a spatula.
  • For the vanilla batter: In the other bowl, gently fold in with a spatula 10 g (0.35 oz.) of sifted flour. Add 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla extract and mix until smooth and fully combined. Transfer to a piping bag, if desired.
  • Pipe (or spoon) alternating layers of vanilla batter and chocolate batter into the prepared loaf tin. Use a reasonable amount of batter each time, about a heaping tablespoon. If you use too little, there won’t be a huge distinction between the two layers. If you need inspiration for marble cake patterns, you can go back to the pictures in the post. Gently tap the pan on the counter to make sure there are no gaps in the batter. Using a knife, create swirls in the batter. If you’re not sure how to do this, imagine drawing waves! Drag your knife left and right (without touching the bottom of the pan) along the length of the pan following an S-shape. Don’t get carried away and over-swirl or you’ll end up combining the two batters! Optional: Pipe a line of softened butter across the middle of the batter (lengthwise). This will minimize uneven cracking in the cake.
  • Bake for 5 minutes at 220°C (428°F) then reduce the temperature to 160°C (320°F). Keep baking for about 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • Making the syrup
  • A few minutes before the end of the baking time, start preparing the syrup. Simply boil together the sugar and water, stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar has fully dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the rum (or vanilla extract). Don’t boil the syrup for too long. If too much water evaporates, the syrup will be thick and won’t seep into the cake properly. Turn off the heat when you see bubbles forming.
  • Once the cake is out of the oven, lift it out of the pan by holding the parchment paper and place it on a wire rack. Brush the top and sides of the cake with syrup until the cake no longer absorbs the syrup. You might not need all the syrup. Brush the cake once then wait 30 seconds before brushing again. Feel the surface of the cake with your fingers. If it’s still wet, stop adding syrup. If not, keep adding more syrup.
  • Wrap the cake in plastic wrap while it’s still hot, to keep all the moisture in. Then you can let it cool down at room temperature for about 8 hours or overnight. The cake will soak up the syrup during that time and develop even more flavor.
  • Making the rocher glaze
  • Freeze the cake about an hour before starting with the glaze. Be careful not to freeze the wrapped cake in the pan. It will stick to it!
  • Prepare the tools needed: 1) A wire rack to place the cake on it. 2) A tray, to collect the excess chocolate. 3) Two pieces of parchment paper to place on the tray. This is optional but it will make it easier to collect the chocolate and pour it again over the cake. 4) Two offset spatulas to lift the cake and transfer it to the serving platter.
  • Chop the hazelnuts (or almonds) into very small pieces.
  • Finely chop the chocolate then gently melt it over a double boiler. You can use the microwave if you prefer but go very slowly. Heat for 30 seconds, stir. Then heat in about 10 seconds increments, stirring each time. It’s best to stop heating before the chocolate has fully melted. The carry-over heat will continue melting the chocolate. Overheated chocolate won’t set properly and will be dull.
  • Pour the oil into the melted chocolate and stir until fully combined. Add the chopped toasted hazelnuts (or almonds if you prefer) and mix to combine.
  • Remove the cake from the freezer and unwrap it. Place the cake on the prepared wire rack and start pouring the chocolate glaze. Remove the first sheet of parchment paper, fold it slightly and pour the chocolate glaze over the cake. Repeat with the second sheet of parchment paper. Spoon the glaze that is in the tray and use it to cover up any gaps.
  • Wait for the chocolate to set a little. Then using two spatulas, lift the cake and transfer it to the serving platter. If the chocolate isn’t setting, place the cake in the fridge for 5 minutes before attempting to move it from the wire rack. Wait for the cake to fully defrost and the chocolate to set properly before serving.

Notes

  • Make-ahead tips: The cake will keep for several days, well wrapped, at room temperature. If you have covered the cake in chocolate glaze and your kitchen is warm, I’d recommend storing the cake in the fridge. You can also freeze the cake (preferably unglazed) for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before serving.
  • Flour: The original recipe calls for French flour T55. The equivalent of this is all-purpose flour in the US. But if you are in Europe, you might find that your cake is a bit fragile and crumbles a little when using all-purpose flour. Depending on where you are in Europe, you could use type 0 Italian flour or Euro 550 flour. I used flour made from soft wheat that contains 12% proteins. It is meant to be used for brioches.
  • Chocolate: I used dark chocolate (53% cocoa) but you can use milk chocolate if you prefer. You might need to adjust the amount of oil as explained in the next point.
  • Oil in the chocolate glaze: The oil will make the chocolate softer and more fluid. You’ll be able to pour it easily over the cake and cover the sides. But if you use too much oil, the chocolate will be too soft and won’t set properly. If you don’t use any oil, the chocolate will be hard to spread, will set very quickly but will have a nice crunch to it. Depending on your preferences and the chocolate you choose, use as much oil as needed to get to what you deem the perfect consistency. I would recommend testing out the amount of oil added on a small portion of chocolate (20 g/0.7 oz. for example). Melt the chocolate, add the oil (3 g/0.11 oz. for example) and let it sit for a few minutes to see how it sets. I personally prefer using as little oil as possible for a nice crunchy layer and so that it sets quickly. Several recipes I found called for about 35 g (1.2 oz.) of oil for 200 g (7.1 oz.) of chocolate.
  • Syrup: Don’t put too much syrup on the cake or it will get soggy and fall apart. Add only as much as needed. This will depend on several things such as how long you baked the cake, whether you used a fan setting or not, the type of flour used etc. The original recipe calls for a bit more syrup but I personally never need it. You can make more syrup if your cake feels dry.
  • Toasted nuts: If you don’t have toasted nuts, you can use raw ones if you want. But for more flavor, it’s best to toast them first. Preheat the oven 180°C/350°F (conventional setting) and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Layer the nuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure there is enough space between them and they are not on top of each other. Bake for about 7-15 minutes or until fragrant. Give them a stir every now and then to make sure they are evenly baked. Remove from the oven and transfer the parchment paper to a wire rack. Cool completely at room temperature. If using hazelnuts, remove the skins by rubbing the hazelnuts with a kitchen towel.
  • Original recipe: If you’d like to make two separate batters as the original recipe calls for, you’ll find the step-by-step instructions in the first section of the post: “Preparing Marble Cake: Two Separate Batters”.
  • Loaf pan: My loaf pan is about 23 x 11 cm (9 x 4 1/3 inches) with a capacity of 6 cups.
  • François Perret’s recipe found on Charles & Ava channel.

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