Le Marquis (Chocolate Spongecake)

I realized the other day, when I try a recipe with a lot of steps, I break it down into smaller steps, much like I learned when I went to law school and broke down statutes to understand them. Le Marquis is one of those recipes.

I hope it’s helpful to you because it’s helpful to me. It makes the recipe much more manageable. And in the scheme of all the recipes in the world, I know this recipe isn’t even that complex. But it’s complex to me at this point in my baking education so I break it down so it makes sense to me.

Special Equipment – 8 inch round baking pan, 1 1/2 inches deep; hand mixer, cake rack

1) 3 1/2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
2) 2 tablespoons strong coffee
3) 3 1/2 tablespoons softened butter
4) 3 eggs
5) 1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
6) Pinch of salt
7) 1/3 cup cake flour

Preparation and Baking #1 – Prepare the Cake Pan & Oven
1) Turn the oven on to 350 degrees
2) Butter and flour the cake pan.
a) I do this by taking a clean paper towel to softened butter and wiping it all around the pan. I keep a covered butter dish on my countertop at all times so I always have softened butter. If you don’t do this, you can try taking some refrigerated butter and put it in the microwave for about 15 seconds or just put some butter uncovered in a warm spot in your house for about 10-15 minutes.
b) Then I sprinkle a tablespoon or two of flour and roll it around the pan so it sticks to the butter until the whole baking pan is covered with flour.
c) You can get rid of the excess flour by knocking the bottom of the pan into the sink.
d) Set aside.

Le Marquis - preparing the cake pan

This pan is twice as deep as Julia calls for but it’s what I have.

Preparation #2 – Brew the Coffee
The recipes calls for 2 tablespoons of strong coffee. I know of no better way to make 1 cup of strong coffee, than brewing it in a moka pot. Or you can use a Chemex or just a regular pot.

53/365 Moka Coffee

Preparation #3 – Prepare the Chocolate
1) Create a double boiler by taking two pans, one smaller than the other. Add water to the larger one and place the smaller pan inside of it.
2) Weigh the chocolate and add it to the smaller pan.
3) Add the coffee to the chocolate.
4) Add the butter
I stop here. I don’t turn on the heat and melt the chocolate yet because a) it does take a little bit of time to prepare the eggs; b) by the time I go to melt the chocolate, it’s already half way melted without any heat.

Julia also says to add the butter after the chocolate melts but I’ve done it both ways and I don’t see the difference so I’d rather add the butter with the melting chocolate.

Preparation #4 – Separate the Eggs into Two Bowls.
1) Take out a large bowl and a medium bowl.
2) Separate the egg whites from the yolk.
a) Crack the egg on the rim of the medium bowl. If the whites escape, they’ll already be dripping into the bowl you want them in.
b) Carefully move the yolk back and forth between the two pieces of eggshell over the medium bowl and let the whites drip down. Be careful not to let any of the yolk escape.
c) When you think you have captured all the whites you can or as much as you feel comfortable trying to capture, add the yolk to the large bowl.
d) Repeat steps a-c for the rest of the eggs.

Preparation #5 – Beat the Egg Yolks
1) Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, begin beating the egg yolks.
2) Add the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar gradually, until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms the ribbon. Then Julia refers to page 579 in her book to understand what “forms the ribbon” means.

“Forms the ribbon” means when the mixtures turns pale, creamy yellow, lift the beater up a little from the bowl, the mixture will fall back into the bowl forming a slowly dissolving ribbon on the surface of the mixture. She states that you don’t want to go beyond this or the egg yolks may become granular.

Honestly, I never got the eggs to do this, but my cake turned out fine. I think if I practice some more it will happen. When it does happen, I will make sure to insert a photo here.

Preparation #6 – Beat the Egg Whites
1) Add a pinch of salt to the medium bowl that contains the egg whites.
2) Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, begin beating the egg whites. If you’re like me, you’ll have to wash the beater attachments that you used to beat the egg yolks before you can beat the egg whites. This is one of the reasons I wait to make the chocolate.
3) The whites will foam and grow. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed.

Soft Peaks

4) Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of sugar on top of the egg whites, and beat until stiff peaks are formed.

Stiff Peaks

You can tell these are stiff peaks because the batter doesn’t just drip into the bowl, it stays put on the beaters.

Preparation #7 – Finish Preparing the Chocolate
Turn the burner on and finish melting the chocolate. Take a spoon (Julia calls for a wooden spoon) and continue mixing the chocolate, coffee and butter together, until it is smooth. The chocolate shouldn’t be hot. It’s tepid at best even after over the burner. You can put your finger in it if you’re worried.

Preparation #8 – Bring Everything Together & Bake
Please note that there is no rising agent in this recipe, like baking soda or baking powder. In this recipe, the rising agent is the egg whites so be sure to fold the egg whites in carefully and mix in as little as possible so you don’t lose the rising properties of the egg whites.

1) Fold the tepid chocolate into the large bowl with the egg yolk mixture.
2) Then fold 1/4 of the egg whites.
3) After partially folded in, fold in 1/4 of the flour.
4) Repeat steps 2 & 3 until all of the ingredients are folded in.
5) Quickly pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan.
6) Bake in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes or when you stick a toothpick in the middle has little specks of chocolate clinging to it. For me that’s a few minutes less than 25 minutes.

Preparation #9 – Finish the Cake
1) Let the cake cool! Julia says you only have to wait 10 minutes to flip the cake onto a cake rack but that has never worked for me. I always have to wait longer. If you’re going to ice the cake, you have to let the cake cool for 2 hours.
2) Julia recommends one of the buttercream frostings in her book, like this one.
3) The alternative is to use powdered sugar which is what I prefer because then the cake tastes sweet but not too sweet.


Le Marquis (Chocolate Spongecake)

Le Marquis #2

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Le Marquis (Chocolate Spongecake)
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