Two defining characteristics of Israeli culture are hospitality and spontaneity. Put those together and you end up with a lot of guests who just pop by for coffee and cake. As a host, you’d typically offer tea or coffee along with some kind of cake or cookie, either homemade or store-bought.
Growing up in Israel, marble pound cake (often store-bought) was a staple in almost every household for just those occasions. The cake usually sat out on the kitchen counter, as family members would casually slice away over the course of a few days.
Traditional pound cake originates from England, but the sweet, dense loaf also has very strong roots in Jewish and Israeli culture. Not so strange, the term for “loaf pan” in Hebrew is actually “English Cake” pan.
In many homes, a simple loaf pound cake is prepared on Thursday night or Friday morning to nosh on after the Friday night meal. Any remnants of the cake are usually eaten as a sweet treat after a Shabbat lunch, when friends often stop by for coffee. A good pound cake recipe can be passed on for generations and is something to really cherish.
This recipe calls for milk for its richness and flavor, so the cake is dairy. If you’d like to make it nondairy, simply substitute soy or almond milk.
2-1/3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, plus one egg yolk
2/3 cup whole milk
3/4 cup grapeseed, avocado or vegetable oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. instant coffee
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, almond extract, and oil. Whisk to thoroughly combine until becomes light in color, about 2 minutes.
4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour the egg and milk mixture into the well. Whisk until thoroughly combined, about 1 or 2 minutes.
5. Pour half of the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Add the unsweetened cocoa powder and instant coffee to the remaining batter.
6. Whisk to fully incorporate the cocoa powder, removing any lumps.
7. Gently pour the chocolate batter over the vanilla batter, and use a skewer or knife to create a marble pattern. Don’t overdo it. You still want to see distinct colors.
8. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.
9. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before removing.