Tiger Cake

In high school, my friend Kate used to bake bundt cake for every birthday. She'd sprinkle it with powdered sugar, and walk it to school on a paper plate covered with plastic wrap. Usually, we'd polish it off before first period. The rest of us would bring cookies, balloons and the occasional rice crispy treat for the birthday person, but Kate's cake was by far the highlight (along with these delicious fudgiest brownies made by another friend, Joelle).

So, of course, I've always wanted to bake a bundt cake. My parents have a beautiful pan, but given that I couldn't even slice 'n bake in high school, I never got around to using it. At last, though, my time has come! Alex's parents bought us an adorable mini pan during their visit several weeks ago, and we've been saving it for the perfect cake.

This cake may not seem perfect at first, as it uses olive oil instead of butter and calls for ground white pepper. But we found it in The Best American Recipes of 2004-2005 (the BEST, so it had to be at least decent), and we were intrigued. It turns out that the olive oil lends an unbelievable moistness, and that the pepper accentuates the cake's subtly chocolate and sweet flavors. Because our pan was only mini, we also made it a loaf pan of it, and three cupcakes. You can use 2 loaf pans or a regular-sized tube or bundt pan as well.


oil for the pan
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
1/3 cup water
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
5 cold large eggs
1 cup cold milk
powdered sugar (optional topping)

Adjust rack to lower third of oven and preheat to 350. Oil and flour pans. Whisk 1/2 cup of the sugar, cocoa powder and water together in a medium-sized bowl. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a final large bowl, beat remaining two cups of sugar, oil, vanilla and white pepper. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Continue to beat until mixture is thick and pale, about 3-5 minutes. Add one-third of flour mixture, followed by one-third of milk, then flour again, etc. until the mixture and milk are incorporated. Pour three cups of the batter into the chocolate mixture, and combine. Pour one-third of cake batter into prepared pan, then one-third of the chocolate batter and repeat with remaining batters. Don't worry about marbling, it happens when baking. Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until inserted knife comes out clean. Let cake cool for about 15 minutes, invert and serve, maybe topped with powdered sugar.