This was my first challenge with the exciting Daring Kitchen and I was so thrilled to find that the Baker’s Challege was the Battenberg cake, in honour of the Queen’s Jubilee. I have been wanting to make this cake for years.
I often like to read cookbooks just for the sake of reading them. Some of my favourites are the cookbooks from England my mum used to have. I always come across this cake and am always intrigued by it’s chequered pattern. Funny thing, I never had a Battenberg the entire time I lived in England. My parents weren’t big packaged cake eaters and ones they did buy were because I insisted, usually a Victoria Sandwich or Mr Kipling’s jam tarts. I don’t remember seeing Battenbergs at any cake shop or bakery.
There is a story behind the whole Battenberg cake; that it was made in honour of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter’s wedding to a Prince Battenberg. This is the most well known story but chances of it being true are quite slim as well as the fact that the coloured four chequered cake represents the four Battenberg princes.
Whatever the story, the cake is beautiful to look at and incredibly tasty with the marzipan covering. The marzipan adds that extra nutty flavour to enhance the otherwise plain sponge.
I wanted to make a Jubilee cake; something ablaze with the Union Jack or even just red, white and blue, and when this challenge was announced, I came across a very unique battenberg; the Union Jack battenberg. I knew I had to make it. It was a bit fiddly and time consuming but it was so worth the end result. I chose to cover this one with white fondant instead of marzipan.
Since I like traditional things, I decided to make a plain battenberg also, with plain vanilla sponge and chocolate sponge. These flavours went wonderfully together and with the addition of the marzipan covering, the overall taste was buttery and nutty. You could use fondant or modelling chocolate to cover the cakes, but I think if you are using plain sponges, then the nutty marzipan adds the most flavour.
I made this cake when my father in law was visiting and he thoroughly enjoyed it, as did my children and hubby (then again, he enjoys anything sweet)
My recipe is adapted from an old English cookbook, Complete Book of Cakes and Pastries by Good Housekeeping
VANILLA-CHOCOLATE BATTENBERG CAKE
175g/6oz butter, softened
175g/3/4 cups caster sugar/superfine
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
175g/ 11/4 cups all purpose/plain flour
11/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 or 3 tablespoons milk, if necessary
225g/8oz almond paste/marzipan (recipe follows)
225g apricot jam melted ( I used strawberry)
red or pink food colouring
Preheat the oven to 375 deg F or 190 deg C
Prepare an 8″ square tin with parchment paper.
Grease and line the tin with parchment paper making a “wall” to divide the pan in half.
We want to bake the two different cake batters at the same time.
I used a heavy duty, double folded strip of tin foil to reinforce the “wall”
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the vanilla.
Gradually, add the flour and fold in.
Add the milk if the batter seems to stiff. You need a dropping consistency.
Divide the batter in half and add a drop of red food colouring in one half to dye pink.
In the other half, mix in the cocoa powder.
Transfer the batters to the cake tin, pink in one half, cocoa in the other.
Bake for 40/45 minutes, or till well risen and firm to touch.
Cool in tin for a few minutes and then turn out on wire rack and cool completely.
Once the cakes are cold, trim them to equal size and cut each half lengthways.
Dust a counter/surface with powdered sugar and roll out the marzipan/almond paste to a 30cm/ 12″ square.
Place one strip of the cake on the almond paste so that it lines up against the edge of the marzipan.
Brush the side with jam and lay an alternate colour strip next to it.
Brush the top with jam and lay the other two remaining strip on top, alternating the colour and brushing sides with jam.
Press well together.
Coat the top and sides with jam.
Bring the marzipan up and over the cake to cover it.
Press the marzipan firmly to the cake, then seal and trim the joint.
Place the cake seam side down an trim both ends.
Can make a decorative design on top or crimp the top edges.
Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
225g/8oz icing sugar
225g/80z caster/superfine sugar
450g/1lb ground almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs. beaten
2 tsp lemon juice
Sift icing sugar into a bowl with the superfine sugar and the ground almonds.
Add the liquids to make a stiff dough.
Form into a ball and knead lightly.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
Roll out on parchment/ plastic wrap if needed.
Dust counter surface liberally with powdered sugar to prevent sticking.
You don’t have to make your own almond paste/marzipan. Many places you can buy ready made almond paste. Here in the US, Whole Foods carries ready to roll almond paste.
So, you may be asking if it’s worth all the trouble to make this cake? It’s a conversation piece that’s for sure and it does taste good, but I think if you are going to make it, then it should be made with exciting flavours and colours to get the maximum “wow” effect. It’s a gorgeous cake and it is worth the time to see the result. I really had a fun time with the Union Jack Battenberg and if you are interested in the recipe you can find it here.
Have you all had a Battenberg before and if so, which one is your favourite?