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Marble pound cake to celebrate my birthday

I thought this would be a birthday without a cake, a low key celebration, I didn’t feel like making anything special. Yesterday I went to bed feeling not as excited as I always am the night before my favourite day of the year. I am tired and in a desperate need of some holidays, I thought, tomorrow will be just an ordinary day.

Today I woke up later than usual, a simple pleasure I grant myself on my birthday, and I found the loving eyes of Tommaso staring at me from the other side of the bed, I heard Noa stretching up, ready to demand an extra dose of cuddles. Every special day for her is yet another chance to have more scratches behind her ears, more cuddles, more attentions. 

After all, today was the right day to celebrate not just my birthday, but also all the love that surrounds me, all the friendship I’ve been given this year by old and new friends and the simple life I embrace every day.

Marble pound cake

I pondered for a while to find a cake to bake. I browsed my cookbooks. Not one single cake was calling from the pages, not a rich chocolate cake nor a fruit pie. I almost gave up my good intentions to have a cake to represent who I am now, on the blog, every year.

Then I decided to just follow my instinct and start baking the simplest cake, a pound cake, with a few adjustments. I took three eggs that I bought yesterday at the market from a farmer, I weighed them and added sugar in equal part, flour, olive oil and lemon juice. What about chocolate? I knew I wanted some chocolate in my birthday cake, so a marble pound cake could be the solution.

I added a heaping spoonful of cocoa powder to the ingredients, along with a pinch of cardamom to uplift the chocolate flavour. Pine nuts sprinkled on top would then perfectly marry the extra virgin olive oil aroma. 

Marble pound cake

Marble pound cake with olive oil

I’m celebrating my 36th birthday with a marble pound cake with extra virgin olive oil, lightly scented with lemon and cardamom, with swirls of cocoa and pine nuts sprinkled on top. It has a moist and dense crumb, it is very soft and delicate, and it makes the perfect tea or coffee cake, but also the ideal breakfast cake, to wake you up with an Italian accent. 

I am happy you are here with me to celebrate!

Marble pound cake

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Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8


  • 3 eggs, about 210 g
  • 210 g of cane sugar
  • 100 g of extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 220 g of plain flour
  • 8 g of baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cardamom powder
  • 2 tablespoons of pine nuts
  • Butter to grease the cake tin
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  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Beat the eggs and the cane sugar until pale and light. Stir in the olive oil and the lemon juice.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and fold into the cake batter.
  • Scrape a third of the batter into another bowl and fold in cocoa powder and cardamom powder.
  • Grease a 22 cm (9 inch) round cake pan and dust lightly with flour.
  • Add half of the plain batter into the pan, then add the cocoa batter in blobs on top. Add the rest of the plain batter and swirl with a skewer to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • Let it cool down completely before slicing it.
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Marble pound cake

Link Love

I found many references to pound cakes lately on blogs and magazines, so I saved all the links as I wanted to share them with you. You know how I love pound cakes, they suit every situation, from the most formal chocolate and coffee cake to the more easy going apple cake. 

  • The only cake recipe you’ll need this summer. On Food52 a recipe for a sour cream pound cake – which I intend to bake soon – with endless tips on how to tweak the recipe (from adding nuts and different dairies to making a marble cake) and how to use it. Ice-cream sandwich anyone?
  • Food&Wine shares another interesting Sour cream pound cake
  • In the same days Domenica shared her Torta quattro quarti al vinsanto, which left me absolutely speechless! Many modern pound cake recipes call for baking powder and/or soda. These ingredients may insure a good rise, but a pound cake with added leavening lacks the beautifully dense, velvety crumb of a true pound cake. So on this matter I am a purist ~ no extra leavening.
  • Since we’re talking about baking, you should read this: The Most Surprising Thing I’ve Learned Working in a Pastry Kitchen. It can be summed up with a few words: go with your gut, not with the timer.

Marble pound cake

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Happy birthday! This cake sounds marvelous! Marble cake is my favorite birthday cake – it feel like the best of all worlds. I like to add orange juice or sherry to the batter.

  2. Hi, Giulia, Happy Birthday from Canada! I’m Greta’s sister and Sheena’s Aunt. They came for some cooking lessons with you about 4 years ago along with Sheena’s man Darrel. I’ve since enjoyed your blog and congratulate you on your excellent recipes, photo and blog. Maybe one day I will come visit you too. Hugs and God bless, Ann

  3. Happy Birthday! and congrats on the nomination for your nomination in Saveur’s blog awards!

  4. Currently in the oven 🙂 I did it in a loaf tin and I can’t wait for it to come out 🙂 Hope mine is as good as yours!

  5. Stuffed peppers from the south of Italy were absolutely beautiful exactly how my mum makes them.

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