I’m never sure whether to call Salvadoran Marquesote a “cake” or a “bread” – It’s not quite either, but it’s kind of both. My best description of it which will give you an idea of what to expect is “very dense, less sweet, angel food cake.” It’s definitely something you want to eat along with a cup of milk or coffee or else you’ll get hiccups!
I actually posted this recipe several years ago but the recipe received recent new comments from people who were having difficulty with it. I decided to bake the marquesote again to make sure my recipe works, and it does perfectly – but I’ve added some tips this time to help ensure it turns out.
First of all, there was concern that the baking temperature of 450 F is too high and people wanted to know if you can bake the marquesote at 350 F.
While 450 F is indeed the right temperature, I decided to try the recipe at 350 F to see what happens. Here is the result:
Upon first glance it seems that both marquesotes turned out great, but if you were to touch and taste the marquesote baked at 350 F, I think you’d agree with me that it’s not as good. The texture and color of the marquesote baked at 350 F for 30 minutes is not right, in my opinion.
I prefer a crisp, brown crust like you find on angel food cake. Baking for 30 minutes at 350 F gives a lighter-colored crust which is moist – that is not what we’re going for. If you bake it longer than 30 minutes it’s possible that it might improve, but I didn’t test that, so you can try it at your own risk.
So, back to the question – can you bake the marquesote at 350 F? The answer is yes, but I don’t recommend it.
While I’ve never been to cooking school, I can provide plenty of tips and resources which will hopefully help you in future baking attempts. If your marquesote didn’t turn out at 450 F there can be several reasons for this – here are the most common:
• Your oven is running hot. If your oven is running hot, then your marquesote can burn. Here’s one way to check to see if your oven temperature is accurate. Use an oven thermometer if necessary.
• You walked away from the kitchen toward the end of bake time. As ovens vary, it’s important to keep an eye on whatever you’re baking and check for doneness through visual cues such as the color of whatever you’re baking – this is especially important when trying a recipe for the first time. The recommended bake time in a recipe is not necessarily an exact time. In the case of this marquesote, when it’s a nice medium brown, (not yellowish brown and not dark brown or black), on top, and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, it’s done.
• You baked it too high or too low. Unless otherwise instructed, you should always bake things on the middle rack of your oven.
• You didn’t beat the egg whites correctly. Egg whites should be beaten until stiff for this recipe – no more and no less. This is a really important step. If you aren’t sure if you’re doing it correctly or if you’re having trouble, read this great article: Beating Egg Whites Tips and Hints.
• You beat the batter too much after flour was added. Once you add the flour, it’s important not to overbeat the batter or your cake/bread will be a tough texture.
• Your yeast was dead. It’s really important to have fresh yeast. When you poured the batter into the greased Pyrex, did you see little bubbles start popping up? If you did, the yeast was good — If not, that could have contributed to the problem you experienced. Next time buy fresh yeast if yours has been sitting around a long time, or you can proof some of it to see if it’s still good. (Need to know how to proof yeast? Click here.)
• You used regular flour instead of cake flour. The recipe specifically calls for cake flour because it makes for a more tender cake/bread. I do not recommend substituting other types of flour in this recipe.
• Your measuring cups or measuring technique are not accurate. Some recipes are more forgiving than others, but for some it’s very important to be sure your measuring cups and spoons are accurate and that you are measuring correctly. (Here’s a good article on the topic.)
Okay, now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s bake a marquesote!
2 cups of cake flour
1 cup of sugar (rounded if you like it a little sweeter as I do)
2 teaspoons of quick rise yeast
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Optional: A few dashes of cinnamon
1. Mix together the yeast and cake flour in a medium bowl. (Add the cinnamon if using.)
2. Separate the eggs into two different bowls. (The whites should be in a large mixing bowl. Yolks in a small bowl.)
Tip: To separate the eggs, crack an egg in half and pour the yolk back and forth between the shells over the bowl until all the white has dropped into the bowl below. You will be left with just the yolk after a few passes back and forth. The yolk can then be dropped into a separate bowl. Make sure you don’t have any yolk in the whites.
3. Grease a 9×13 glass Pyrex, (I use Canola oil cooking spray.) Preheat the oven to 450 F.
4. With an electric mixer on high, beat the egg whites until stiff.
Tip: Not sure if the egg whites are stiff yet? Tilt the bowl – if it moves or there is any liquid, you’re not done.
5. Add the sugar little by little while continuing to use the electric mixer.
6. Add the yolks little by little while continuing to use the electric mixer. Repeat with the flour/yeast mixture. Add vanilla extract. Mix until all ingredients are combined but be careful not to overbeat the batter at this point.
7. Pour the batter into the greased Pyrex and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a medium brown color. The marquesote is finished when this color is achieved and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Serve with milk or coffee.