Daring Bakers June Challenge: Battenberg Cake

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.

"This cake has far grander beginnings than tea with teddy. It was actually created as a wedding cake for royalty. The first Battenberg cake was made to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria, to husband Prince Louis of Battenberg. It’s traditionally flavoured with almond and has the signature Battenberg markings, that is, the yellow and pink squares (said to represent the four princes of Battenberg). The strips of sponge are glued together using jam (normally apricot) and the whole cake is covered in marzipan. Sometimes the edges are crimped and the top is patterned with a knife."

I chose a recipe given in the challenge PDF - the Coffee and Walnut Battenberg. The principle how you do this is easy - bake the sponge, 'glue' it together with the coffee buttercream and cover with marzipan. Mandy provides lots of pictures how to do it right (just have a look at her blog) and even recipes for modelling chocolate if you don't like marzipan. I was in a hurry to get done with this, and marzipan was the fastest thing of all (otherwise I would have tried to use white modelling chocolate). 
As I didn't have a special Battenberg tin, I baked two flat rectangle cake sponges, cut them into eight cubic stripes each and assembled 'four in one'. It looked really nice but boy - there were loads of sugar and calories on that plate in the end ...

Coffee and Walnut Battenberg
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) 175gm /6 oz Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
  • ¾ cup / 175gm /6 oz Caster Sugar
  • 1¼ cups / 175gm /6 oz Self-Raising Flour *
  • 3 Large Eggs, room temp
  • ½ cup / 65gm /2 1/3 oz Ground Almonds (Can be substituted with ground rice)
  • 3/4 tsp / 3½ gm Baking Powder
  • 3 tsp (15 ml) Milk
  • ½ tsp (2½ ml) Vanilla Extract
  • 1½ tsp (7½ ml) 7 gm Instant Coffee Powder or Granules
  • 3 Tbsp / 25gm/1 oz Walnuts, roughly chopped
For Assembling:
  • ½ cup (1 stick) 115gm /4 oz Unsalted Butter
  • 2 cups / 225gm /8 oz Powdered (Icing/Confectioners') Sugar
  • ½ tsp / 2 gm Instant Coffee
  • 1½ tsp (7½ ml) Milk or Cream
  • 1 cup / 225gm /8 oz Marzipan, natural or yellow
* 1 cup Self Raising Flour = 1 cup / 115g All Purpose Flour + 1 ½ tsp Baking Powder + ¼ tsp Salt

Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/160°C Fan Assisted/Gas Mark 4. Grease an 8”/20cm square baking tin with butter. Line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with the parchment (or foil) OR prepare Battenberg tin by brushing the tin with melted butter and flouring.
Whisk together dry ingredients (except walnuts and coffee) and combine with the wet ingredients in a large bowl (except vanilla and milk) and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth. Spoon half the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the vanilla, 1½ teaspoons milk and chopped walnuts. Spoon the walnut mixture into the one side of the prepared baking tin. Dissolve the coffee in the remaining 1½ teaspoon milk and add to the remaining batter, stir until just combined. Spoon the coffee batter into the other half of the prepared baking tin. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner.
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). 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 edges of the cake with a long serrated knife. Cut each sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge. Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible.
Combine the buttercream ingredients together and mix until combined. Spread a thin layer of buttercream onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern (one yellow next to one brown. On top of that, one brown 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. Spread the top of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Place the cake on the marzipan, buttercream side down. Spread buttercream onto the remaining three sides. 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, you can also crimp the top corners with your fingers to decorate. Neaten the ends of the cake and reremove excess marzipan by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern.

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