200 years ago, the British Museum purchased the Elgin Marbles, a group of classical Greek sculptures from the Parthenon, from Thomas Bruce, aka the 7th Earl of Elgin. While serving as Ambassador to Constantinople, Lord Elgin sent a crew to Athens to check out the art of the Acropolis ruins. Like most of his contemporaries, Lord Elgin was in awe of the incredible decorative program throughout the Acropolis, and felt that his interest in collecting antiquities was beneficial to the understanding and appreciation of classical Greek art.
These beautiful marbles are just like this decadent cake: rich, amazing and pilfered. You see, the magnificent Dorie Greenspan’s recipe in Baking Chez Moi is so perfect, that I could barely bring myself to alter it. But I let my love of dark chocolate beat out my dislike of white chocolate (and left out the white chocolate from the recipe), and added a bit of hearty denseness with the addition of whole-wheat flour. This all brings me back to Lord Elgin’s marbles, since he refused to restore them when he first brought them to England. By keeping them as close to their current state as possible, Elgin solidified their status as cultural artifacts, timeless just like this cake (albeit not as controversial).
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup milk
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Preheat your oven to325°F. Line a heavy baking sheet in parchment paper or a silicone mat. Butter a loaf pan, and dust with flour. Set inside the baking sheet and then set both aside.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and keep beating for a couple minutes longer. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for about 30 seconds between each addition. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts, followed by half of the milk, alternating with the flour mixture until everything is combined. Divide the batter evenly in two, and mix the melted chocolate into one of them. With a large spoon or cookie scoop, randomly drop large scoops of each of the cookie doughs into the prepared pan. Using a long knife or offset spatula, carefully swirl a zigzag pattern through the dough—about 6 times through, nothing crazy. Bake for about 80-85 minutes, rotating after about 40, until the loaf is starting to turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted into one of the humps comes out clean. Let cool at least 20 minutes and slice.
Recipe slightly adapted from Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere
Featured art: Two Horsemen from the Parthenon, now on view at the British Museum
Selene Horse from the Parthenon, now on view at the British Museum