Wednesday 27 June 2012

Daring Bakers June 2012: Battenberg

I was so excited when this months Daring Bakers challenge was announced. I adore Battenberg cake, its quirky cream and pink squares, the soft fluffy sponge and best of all, the outer coating of intense almond marzipan. I’d never attempted to make one myself and have not eaten one since having to go gluten free. This made the challenge feel even more special and I was determined to get it right.

Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.

The part that I found most difficult was preparing the pan with a cardboard centre divide in order to bake two coloured sponges in the same pan simultaneously. I couldn’t get the divide to stand up, but thankfully another family member came to my rescue and held it in place while I spread the coloured batters on either side. I suspect if you were careful, you wouldn’t need to bother with the divide at all, as I don’t think the cake batters would spread too much into each other as they are quite thick. I may try this next time, especially as you trim the cake to size anyway.

After trimming I had my 4 strips of cake and was ready to begin assembly. As the sponges were delicately flavoured with almond and would be covered with almond marzipan I wanted to introduce another flavour element and decided to use some zingy lemon curd, instead of the specified apricot jam, to stick my cake strips together. This worked well as it was the perfect spreadable consistency and the lemon and almond flavour complimented each other nicely.

The assembly process is a little fiddly and time consuming, but it wasn’t difficult. My finished Battenberg ended up a little rectangular, rather than a perfect square/cube but for a first attempt I was more than happy with the results.

The checked pink and cream squares made it instantly recognisable and it sliced into portions without falling apart, the lemon curd and marzipan doing their jobs well. The sponge was wonderfully soft and fluffy and surprisingly moist considering the dry ingredients were more than a usual cake recipe. The thin spreading of lemon curd added just a touch of freshness and sweetness to the cake, and the almond marzipan was, naturally, fabulous. I love how it is wrapped around the whole cake so you can get a bit of cake, jam and marzipan in each bite – heavenly!

I made this cake for a coeliac friend who I had invited round for dinner. We had recently been talking about food we missed and she had actually mentioned Battenberg, so she seemed the perfect person to share it with. This recipe is by Mary Berry and I’ve seen she also has a more adult coffee and walnut version too, which I’m sure is delicious, but for me the pink and cream squares are part of what make it so special and so childishly nostalgic to me.

Click here to see other Daring Bakers Battenberg cakes

(Recipe adapted from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible)
175g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
175gm gluten free self raising flour
3 eggs
65g ground almonds
¾ tsp gluten free baking powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
¼ tsp xanthan gum (if making GF)
Pink food paste

To Decorate
100g apricot jam (I used lemon curd)
225g marzipan, natural

Preheat oven to moderate 180C and grease an 8inch/20cm square baking tin. Cut a large rectangle of parchment paper, the width of the tin. Cut a sheet of card the width of the tin and wrap it in foil. Then fold this inside the centre of the parchment, to create a wall/divide to go through the centre of the tin. Line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with the parchment covered card.
Whisk together the dry ingredients then combine with the wet ingredients in a large bowl and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth.
Spoon half the mixture into the one side of the prepared baking tin.
Add a few pinpricks of pink food paste to the remaining batter, stir until the colour is thoroughly distributed, and spread into the second half of the divided tin.
Bake for 25-30mins until the cake is well risen and springs back when lightly touched.
Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

Once completely cool, trim the very edges of the cake with a long serrated knife to cut away of the browned surface.
Cut each coloured sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge.
Neaten the strips and trim the tops if necessary so that your strips are all the same length and height.
Gently heat the apricot jam and pass through a small sieve (I used cold lemon curd).
Brush warmed jam onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern (one yellow next to one pink. On top of that, one pink next to one yellow).
Dust a large flat surface with icing sugar then roll the marzipan in an oblong shape that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake, use a ruler to help you.
Brush the top of the cake with the jam and place the cake on the marzipan, jam side down. Brush the remaining three sides with jam and carefully press the marzipan around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over.
Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with a knife, to create a diamond effect. (I also crimped mine with an icing tool).
Neaten the ends of the cake and cut thin slices off both ends of the cake, to create a good presentation.
Store at room temperature and eat within 3 days.


Unknown said...

Good job! Also love the fact you went gluten did I but the sponge left a lot to be desired. Nice to meet a local blogger too since i am based in Stevenage.

Jean said...

This looks beautiful.
I have been plucking up courage to make a battenburg cake some time and I have promised to make a birthday cake for a friend who has to have a gluten free diet. So I think I will add this to my very possible list.
Thanks for the recipe. If mine comes out as good as yours I will be thrilled.

Kristin said...

Beautiful cake you made and great idea using lemon curd. I had problems too with the cake tin and my raspberry batter spread into light batter a little. It was okay in the end, at least it's not visible and the flavour is fantastic. Love marzipan too!

Emily said...

Oh my, this is so pretty!

Unknown said...

This is so beautiful! I've seen a cake like this maybe once or twice, but never on a blog. You make it look so effortless, and the part with the cardboard divider, I probably would have never thought of that.

You did a fantastic job, and I really want to try a peice.

Within the Kitchen said...

Your cake is beautiful. Great challenge!

Marjorie (Sugar for the Brain) said...

It looks great! Love the colors!

Paloma said...

That is SOOO BEAUTIFUL! You did an amazing job!!!

Ruth Ellis said...

What an absolutely perfect looking Battenberg cake - flawless!

shelley c. said...

Oh my gosh, your cake is BEAUTIFUL. And you did such a beautiful job decorating the marzipan. Really professional looking Battenberg!!!

Unknown said...

fiddly maybe but so elegant!... it really looks such a delight!

chef_d said...

It looks perfect, and the addition of lemon curd must have made it more delicious!

The Cookie Fairy said...

Your Battenberg cake version is so cute!
I also fell in love with the pink version

Jeanine - The Baking Beauties said...

Oh wow, that looks amazing!! So cool!

Caroline said...

Looks gorgeous! I'm very impressed with how beautifully neat your cake is, and the colour contrast is great!

Deborah said...

This is simply gorgeous!!