Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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. Our cake had to be "[the traditional shape (square oblong) and had to have at least two different colored checks as well as be covered in a firm edible covering like marzipan.]"

I hadn't seen a Battenberg Cake before this challenge. Its appearance and the long list of directions wowed me (and gave me pause). But I shouldn't have been intimidated. This cake is genuinely easy* to make and doesn't require any special ingredients, outside of the marzipan. Its uniquely thick batter results in a slightly sweetened cake that I thought wasn't sweet enough... Then I added the jam and marzipan and was SO thankful that it hadn't been sweeter since the combination of the three resulted in a major sugar rush!

Needless to say we got way more than 8 slices out of this baby...and I have quite the sweet tooth. I'd make Battenberg cake again, though likely with a different base cake recipe as this one was a bit dry for my liking. With a bit more time, and tweezers, I'm confident I could have had a more professional product but this version was perfectly fancy for a family day at the river. Especially after Russell did some marzipan magic and made roses to decorate it. 

For the full skinny from Mandy and photos of some crazy, awesome checkerboard cakes, visit Daring Kitchen. I have placed a slightly adapted recipe below the photos but there is more info to be had. I substituted non-strained local spiced peach preserves for the apricot jam (Thanks to Nancy at Red Dog Farm); otherwise I followed the provided instructions. You could barely taste the peach over the delicious almond/cherry flavor, which I was fine with but beware.

*We'll just ignore my failed attempt at making marzipan. If anyone has ideas for how to use almond flavored sugar/almond meal "sand" let me know. Rescue tips would also be welcome, of course.

I used a plastic knife to make swirls on top of the marzipan. Then I started to fill them in with silver sprinkles. The 90+ degree weather, looming dinner and fumbling fingers quickly killed that idea. Russell's decorative roses saved the day.

 Yep. The sprinkle swirls wouldn't been super classy. Note: This cake doesn't love heat. 
Cake & Cannon

Traditional Battenberg

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
3/4 cup Caster Sugar
1 1/4 cups Self-Raising Flour
3 Large Eggs, room temp
1/2 cup Almond Flour
3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Almond Extract
Pink Food Colouring, neon pink liquid and rose gel

To Finish: 1/3 cup Spiced Peach Preserves and 1 cup / 8 oz Marzipan, natural

1. Preheat oven to moderate 350 degrees Farenheit.
2. Grease an 8” square baking tin with butter
3. Line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with the parchment over a folded solid square of foil. (Or prepare Battenberg tin by brushing the tin with melted butter and flouring.)
4. 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
5. Spoon half the mixture into the one side of the prepared baking tin
6. Add a few drops of red food liquid/gel/paste to the remaining batter, stir until the colour is thoroughly distributed, add more color if needed
7. Spoon the pink batter into the other half of the prepared baking tin
8. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner
9. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes 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)
10. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack
11. Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife. It will look unstable, if it is like mine, but will stand strong!
12. Cut each colored sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge.
13. Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible
14. Brush 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)
15. 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
16. Brush the top of the cake with more jam.
17. Place the cake on the marzipan, jam side down (Either in the middle or to the one side of the marzipan.)
18. Brush the remaining three sides with jam
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat, and a picture.    

Washington State privatized its liquor stores. I wonder if Virginia will follow suit? Per the article, we are one of seven states left with state-run retail liquor sales.

"Armed with the right resources, Ilissa and Dori launched the business that would allow women all over the world to design their own shoes. To the sisters being able to have perfect shoes is like reaching paradise… or the land of Milk & Honey." Awesome.

I loved this sentence from Frank Bruni's How I Fell for Lisbon. “In Lisbon it occurred to me that maybe our favorite places are simply those in which our expectations are routinely exceeded, happenstance cuts in our favor, and it doesn’t matter which fork in the road we take. It leads somewhere we’re happy to be.” And, yes, I now want to visit Lisbon too.

Katy Perry is cute without make-up.

Read Are You As Busy As You Think to understand why I keep telling people I'm not as busy as I seem. I'm definitely going to try the tip about reframing language.

Recipes Bookmarked
Bacon, Egg and Leek Risotto at Smitten Kitchen
Frozen Nutella Chobani at Chimes Design
Haupia at Serious Eats

 Cyprus Sunset, July 2006

(I didn't actually sit still and watch the video. But I like the artist's voice and the song, which you can download for free on their website.)