December 24, 2020
So there is this cake from a local bakery that people go wild about. I’ve been eating it since I was a kid. I’m not sure how or why it’s named Philly Fluff (it’s not from Philadelphia) except for the probability of cream cheese in the batter. Personally, I had a disagreement with the owner and won’t go back to the bakery. But that brings me to my present mission. To recreate the cake that my kids clamor for.
It comes in two varieties. Plain and marble. Take a guess which one my kids want? If you guessed marble (ding, ding, ding) you are correct!
There are a couple of recipes out there that I read as a starting point. But it seems that none of the writers had actually tasted the cake in question! I’ve tried to come up with a recipe that is true to the original, while elevating it to the next level of deliciousness!
Ok. I have to admit when I was in the final taste testing of this recipe I absentmindedly left out the vanilla extract. I figured I’d just deal with it, just make sure I put it in the recipe. Well my son, Eli, came downstairs as my taster and instantly said “delicious but something is missing.” He could tell! Now I’m usually heavy handed with the vanilla extract, so when it was missing . . . He knew it was missing! He had me make a new cake and up the vanilla extract. In addition he insisted that I add a healthy dose of confectioner's sugar to the top. You’ve gotta love your taste testers!
Note: I made this cake marble, but it’s so easy to leave the cocoa powder out and ignore the directions about splitting the batter. If you just want a plain Philly Fluff, go for it!
Marble Philly Fluff Cake
Adapted from Liz Gutman, Serious Eats
For the Cake
5 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup (50grams) vegetable shortening
1 cup (110 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar, divided
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup (15 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
Confectioners sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease one loaf pan 9” x 5” (Mine is actually a bit smaller.) Line the greased pan with parchment paper so the cake is easy to lift out of the pan with the tabs hanging over the pan. (see photo)
In a large bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the cream cheese, butter and shortening on medium high for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix on low until blended. The mixture will be very thick.
Gradually add 1/2 cup of the sugar and the eggs, one at at time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the batter is smooth.
Remove what looks like 2/3 of the batter and put into a small bowl. Add the cocoa powder to the remaining batter in the mixer and mix until well blended. Now you have a bowl of both chocolate and vanilla batter so you can make your marble cake easily.
Using your vanilla batter first, pour half of the mixture into the prepared pan. Next add all the chocolate mixture. Top with the rest of the vanilla batter. You may need to lightly spread the top batter with a plastic mixing spoon so no chocolate is showing. Swirl a butter knife through the pan, back and forth and side to side. You won’t see the marbling, but you will when you cut into the finished product.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Pick the cake up by the parchment flaps and let cool on a wire rack until completely cool. Before serving, dust with a generous amount of confectioner’s sugar.