Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Battenberg Cake, Daring Bakers Challenge; June 2012

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.

I have seen pictures of this lovely cake, but I've never had one. Mandy gave us several interesting versions to try out, and as delicious they all seemed, I decided to make the traditional version From Mary Berry's "Baking Bible".

For various reasons I ran into a few issues. The one I was most concerned with, was the batter. It was super thick although I used extra-large eggs rather than large which the recipe called for. I added 1/4 cup of milk to thin it down a touch and then worried about that while the cake was in the oven.

The texture of the baked cake was fine, if anything it was much better than I expected. It was both moist and slightly firm; perfect really. The major snag I ran into was with the marzipan.

I live in an old neighbourhood in central Dallas, Texas plagued by almost daily brownouts throughout the warmer months. Yesterday afternoon the high reached 104°F (40°C), which put a strain on the power grid resulting in an outage in my home lasting more than two hours. The temperature in my kitchen had risen to 87°F (30.5°C) by the time I was trying to assemble my cake. (I live in a very old house which doesn't have much in the way of insulation). The marzipan began to sweat oil  when I tried to knead it. Despite working in small amounts of icing sugar, I wasn't able to get it right, it kept cracking. I finally gave up and ended up with a less than perfect looking cake.

(This cake is delicious, btw! I'm having a slice with my coffee as I type this!)

The following video shows Mary Berry making a walnut and coffee version of this dessert for the BBC  programme, The Great British Bake Off, with Paul Hollywood. For some bizarre reason Paul decides to use his hand to mix the buttercream and Mary looks absolutely repulsed. I couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking when he did that, yet I couldn't stop laughing.

Traditional Battenberg:

Servings: +- 8

¾ cup (1½ sticks) 175gm / 6 oz Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
¾ cup / 175gm / 6 oz Caster Sugar (I used 1/2 cup and I'm glad I did)
1¼ cups / 175gm / 6 oz Self-Raising Flour (***see end of doc on how to make your own)
3 Large Eggs, room temp (I used extra large eggs)
½ cup / 65gm/ 2 1/3 oz Ground Almonds (Can be substituted with ground rice)
3/4 tsp / 3½ gm Baking Powder
½ tsp / 2½ ml Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp (1¼ ml) Almond Extract
(1/4 cup milk; I stirred this in when the batter seemed too thick. The texture was perfect)
Red Food Colouring, paste, liquid or gel
To Finish
1/3 cup (80 ml) 100gm /3 ½ oz Apricot Jam
1 cup / 225gm / 8 oz Marzipan, natural or yellow
1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/160°C Fan Assisted/Gas Mark 4
2. Grease an 8”/20cm square baking tin with butter
3. Line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with the parchment (or foil)
- Tip: See photos or watch video above for detailed instructions
4. OR Prepare Battenberg tin by brushing the tin with melted butter and flouring
5. 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
6. Spoon half the mixture into the one side of the prepared baking tin
7. Add a few drops of red food liquid/gel/paste to the remaining batter, stir until the colour is thoroughly distributed, add more colour if needed
8. Spoon the pink batter into the other half of the prepared baking tin
9. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner
10. Bake for 25-30mins until the cake is well risen, springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean (it should shrink away from the sides of the pan)
11. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack
12. Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife
13. Cut each coloured sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge14. Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible15. Gently heat the apricot jam and pass through a small sieve16. 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)- Tip: See photos for detailed instructions17. 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
18. Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam (I brushed it over the marzipan)

19. Place the cake on the marzipan, jam side down
- Tip: Either in the middle or to the one side of the marzipan
20. Brush the remaining three sides with jam
21. 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
- Tip: If you put the sponge to the one side of the marzipan, I found it easiest to "roll" the sponge over and over onto the marzipan instead of lifting the marzipan up onto the sponge
22. Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with a knife, you can also crimp the top corners with your fingers to decorate
23. Neaten the ends of the cake and remove excess marzipan by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern
Additional Information:
How to make your own self raising flour:
1 cup Self Raising Flour = 1 cup / 115g All Purpose Flour + 1 ½ tsp Baking Powder + ¼ tsp Salt (omit salt if there is salt in the recipe) sifted together


Laura said...

I get what you mean with the temperature. I've had problems with that while baking sometimes, too. But, even though you had a few problems with the marzipan the cake still looks delicious!

Inside a British Mum's Kitchen said...

You are SOOOOOOOOOOOO clever!! I would never even attempt it!! so beautiful and I loved that video - isn't Mary Berry lovely!
Mary x

Gerlinde in Dallas said...

Thanks! This was an interesting cake to make and quite delicious.

Joanna Skoraczyńska said...

It's such a great idea to wow guests. The cake looks really great.

Zoe said...

This seems to be a challenging cake to make. I have seen a few of my blogging friends making this but I'm still not "brave" enough to attempt this bake yet.

All your cooking look fabulous! I've "like" you at facebook and hope to be back for more in the future. I'm your latest blog follower :D

Gerlinde in Dallas said...

Zoe, thanks very much for your kind words!

brooklyn bakery shops said...

A fun little cake! And the flavor combos are limited to the imagination!

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