How-To & Diy

The New (Modern) Marble Cake is Made with Olive Oil

March 31, 2014

Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: Alice gives the marble cake of your childhood an adult makeover.

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This is not the marble cake of your childhood! Even if the cake of memory was delicious, this one is hipper, super simple to make, and gorgeous without your doing anything special to make it so.

The batter is made with flavorful extra-virgin olive oil, a hint of white pepper, and natural cocoa powder. The tiger stripe marbling happens magically, all by itself, while the cake is baking; all you have to do is layer the batters into the pan.  

Tiger Cake

Adapted from Seriously Bittersweet (Artisan 2013) by Alice Medrich


1/2 cup (45 grams) natural cocoa powder* (non-alkalized, non-Dutch processed)
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/3 cup water
3 cups (385 grams) all-purpose unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
5 cold eggs
1 cup cold milk

Special Equipment

A 10-to-12 cup tube pan

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Alice's new book Seriously Bitter Sweet is a complete revision of her IACP award-winning Bittersweet, updated for the 54%, 61%, and 72% (and beyond) bars available today. It's packed with tricks, techniques, and answers to every chocolate question, plus 150 seriously delicious recipes -- both savory and sweet. 


Photos by James Ransom


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Deepali
  • ravenskylark
  • Rachel C.
    Rachel C.
  • Adity
  • Maria
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).


Deepali February 24, 2017
The cake looks nice. I will surely try it. If anyone is interesed, there are cake baking classes available in Delhi and Gurgaon by Rupali,chef,cookery consultant, TV Show host . You can check out its details from Rupaliscookery.
ravenskylark June 27, 2014
I have made this cake at least five times since the recipe was posted. It is a great cake to take to dinner parties, make for family gatherings and even as a brunch desert. It is a favorite of mine.
ravenskylark April 7, 2014
made this cake it is was amazing.
Rachel C. April 5, 2014
This cake looks gorgeous!
If I don't have a tube pan, would the cake still bake up nicely in a loaf pan?
HelloMyNamesJen April 19, 2015
Same question! Is the tube pan totally necessary?
Grace C. September 19, 2015
I halved the recipe and baked it in a loaf pan and it came out beautifully!
Adity April 4, 2014
How I love Marble Cake..learnt it from y mum and have been baking it since years now...I must try this olive oil version though..Here is a recipe I had posted on my blog a while back :
Maria April 3, 2014
This cake has such a beautiful crumb. Since I'm not a fan of white pepper, I added black pepper to the chocolate batter.
MarionRose April 2, 2014
What happens if you use Dutched Cocoa (which is all I have in my pantry right now)? Does the Cake still turn out/taste good?
Alice M. April 2, 2014
Alas, dutch cocoa does not taste good in this cake....wait until you have the right stuff!
Erica M. June 2, 2019
Did you try it with Dutch? I like the dark Dutch the best and want to use it. I know there is a rising agent conversion. I would check into that.
Tereza April 2, 2014
Definitely making a gluten-free/dairy-free version! Marble bundt cake reminds me of my childhood
EMilligan April 1, 2014
Could I use coconut or almond milk in this? And gluten-free flour?
Alice M. April 2, 2014
I have used a medium or dry sherry instead of milk and it was delicious! I think coconut or almond milk will work but almond milk might be the better flavor partner with the olive oil. I have not tried with gluten free flour yet. Let us know if you have good results.
Jessica A. March 31, 2014
If I halve the recipe, should I use 2 or 3 eggs?
Alice M. April 2, 2014
Use 2 1/2 eggs! Just whisk one of the eggs with a fork and use half of it. Add the other half to your morning scramble.
madcook March 31, 2014
Love, love, love this cake! I enjoyed your demonstration of this one so much in a recent class... it's as good as it looks. Thanks!
Alice M. April 2, 2014
Thanks for coming to class. I really love this cake myself!