Battenberg cake

This month’s Daring Baker’s challenge was a real challenge for me, because I’d never encased a cake in firm icing before and was kind of terrified at the prospect! We were given the option of marzipan, rolled fondant or chocolate plastique for our cake covering. The marzipan was nixed straight away because eldest son doesn’t like it, but I couldn’t decide between the fondant or chocolate. I attempted a chocolate plastique, which was a complete and utter failure – a poor choice of chocolate, using sugar syrup instead of corn syrup, or 29°C and high humidity may have contributed, so I haven’t given up forever but ran out of time to try it again for this challenge. So a rolled buttercream fondant was the winner by default.

I made three, two of which are here. My first attempt was an utter failure and ended up in the garbage-bin-of-abject-failure. Then I made a traditional pink and yellow version with way too much food colouring in the pink. After thinking about the various problems I had, I tried one more on the last day – a chocolate and vanilla version. You know what they say, “If at first you don’t succeed…”. I think I may have just about cracked it!  🙂

The only major changes I made to the recipe we were given were to omit the almond meal and essence (too almondy for my youngest so I increased the flour slightly and the vanilla) and I changed the type of jam used to glue the cakes together because I didn’t have any apricot. Also, the original recipe included self-raising flour and as I can’t get that here, I added extra baking powder plus salt to substitute. We were given the choice of making the cake using the wet then dry ingredients method or the all in one method – I opted for the former. The other adaptation I was forced to make was to switch corn syrup for sugar syrup in the fondant because corn syrup is not available here. As always, the recipe here is just as I made it and, as always, for the original plus alternatives and variations check the pdf or the blog-checking lines (links below). I’ll give the cake recipes first, then the recipe for the fondant.

Pink and yellow Battenberg with rolled buttercream fondant

My cakes sank a bit in the middle, so the whole thing is a bit bowed inwards on top… and see my notes below for the fondant adventures. We’ll call this one “learning experience number 2”.  😉

Photobucket

Ingredients

175g unsalted butter, softened & cut in cubes

175g caster sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

175g all-purpose (plain) flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

pink food colouring
1/2 cup jam (I used strawberry)

Directions

Preheat oven to 180°C.

For the tin: one way is to grease a 20cm square baking tin with butter, then line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with parchment or foil. Check the photos in the pdf for detailed instructions. Or you might be lucky enough to own a special Battenberg cake tin. I used two 20x10cm loaf tins that have a square cross-section, so I could be sure of a square(ish) cake.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the vanilla.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl then add to the butter mixture and mix together until the ingredients are just combined and the batter is smooth.

Separate the batter evenly into two bowls.

Add a few drops of food colouring to one batter, stir until it is thoroughly distributed, adding more if needed.

Spoon the batter into the each half of the prepared baking tin/s.

Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure it is right into the corners.

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).

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.

Gently heat the jam and pass through a small sieve.

Spread warmed jam onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern (one yellow next to one red. On top of that, one red next to one yellow).

Chocolate and vanilla Battenberg with rolled buttercream fondant

We’ll call this one “getting there”  🙂

Photobucket

Ingredients

175g unsalted butter, softened & cut in cubes

175g caster sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract, divided

175g all-purpose (plain) flour + 2 tbsp

2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp cocoa
Nutella ganache (see below)

Directions

Preheat oven to 180°C.

For the tin: one way is to grease a 20cm square baking tin with butter, then line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with parchment or foil. Check the photos in the pdf for detailed instructions. Or you might be lucky enough to own a special Battenberg cake tin. I used two 20x10cm loaf tins that have a square cross-section, so I could be sure of a square(ish) cake.

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in 1/2 tsp of the vanilla.

Whisk the dry ingredients (except he cocoa and extra flour) together in a bowl then add to the butter mixture and mix together until the ingredients are just combined and the batter is smooth.

Separate the batter evenly into two bowls.

Add the remaining 1/2 tsp vanilla and the extra 2 tbsp flour to one batter and fold in until combined. Add the cocoa to the other batter and fold until combined. Be careful not to overmix.

Spoon the batter into the each half of the prepared baking tin/s.

Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure it is right into the corners.

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).

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.

Spread Nutella ganache onto the strips of cake to stick it together in a checkered pattern (one yellow next to one chocolate. On top of that, one chocolate next to one yellow).

Nutella ganache

Ingredients

1/2 cup Nutella
80ml heavy cream

Directions

Put the Nutella into a medium bowl.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just boiling.

Pour cream over Nutella and whisk until smooth.

Cool to room temperature before using.

Rolled buttercream fondant
(recipe adapted from one very kindly provided by citrusspicebakey of the Daring Kitchen)

Ingredients

115g butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

450g powdered sugar + plus extra for bench

Directions

Mix butter, sugar syrup and vanilla together in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Add the powdered sugar and stir until combined.

Turn out onto a surface well dusted with powdered sugar and knead until smooth. Roll out between two sheets of parchment in a rectangle that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake. Remove the top sheet of parchment.

Spread one long side of the constructed cake with jam or Nutella ganache.

Place the cake on the fondant towards one end, jam/ganache side down.

Spread the remaining three long sides with jam/ganache.

Roll the cake carefully, pressing the fondant around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner or will be underneath the cake once turned over. Remove the parchment.

Carefully turn the cake over so that the seam is under the cake.

Neaten the ends of the cake and remove excess fondant by trimming off a small slice of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern. Decorate the top, if desired.

Notes: For the chocolate/vanilla Battenberg, I added a more powdered sugar to the fondant to compensate for the sugar syrup’s lack of viscosity – the fondant was workable for the pink/yellow one but really, really soft. It was much easier to handle for the chocolate/vanilla one.

I also rolled the fondant too thinly for the pink/yellow one, so I decided not to attempt the traditional scoring on the top in case I went right through it.

To get the fondant the right size and shape, I drew a rectangle of the appropriate size on the outside of the top sheet of parchment – it made it much easier.

The verdict? The cakes tasted great, the fondant tasted good but *really* sweet. While I was determined to get something even close to passable, I’m clearly not a natural born cake maker! Use the blog-checking lines to take a look at some of the other Daring Bakers’ efforts – there are some truly amazing cake makers out there! 🙂 Thank you, Mandy, for such a great challenge!

Daring Bakers blog-checking lines: 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.

Download the printable .pdf file here.

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21 Responses to Battenberg cake

  1. liana says:

    Your Battenbergs look very nice, and the buttercream fondant is an interesting idea! Great job!

  2. Todd says:

    You sure stuck with it with three attempts. It is looking pretty good for both of those I think – better than mine 🙂

    • pizzarossa says:

      It was just grim determination! LOL! Yours looks great! I saw your marzipan posts, but I have never made it so couldn’t offer any sage advice. These challenges certainly do challenge us!

  3. makeycakey says:

    The nutella ganache sounds amazing! And your cakes look lovely :o)

  4. You had me at “Nutella ganache”! I the vibrant pink squares are in your first (second?) attempt 🙂

  5. chef_d says:

    Your cakes look gorgeous, I love the deep pink color!

  6. Dawn says:

    I’m impressed that you made three cakes – your tenacity is to be admired! I’m going to try your Nutella ganache, although I doubt it will make it to a cake. It probably won’t get any further than a spoon!

  7. Dedication to battenbergs right there! I personally love making these cakes, the traditional ones so far as, even though I too am not a marzipan fan, I do rather like it on battenbergs for some reason. Your nutella ganache looks gorgeousss, as do all your cakes 🙂 lovely post and you definitely ended up with a winner of a cake!

    • pizzarossa says:

      Thank you *so* much. I just adore trying new things and not giving up until I have come some way close to dealing with the scariness. This is definitely a cake I’ll keep making – my kids and hubby loved it and that’s the goal for me. 🙂

  8. zazacook says:

    You did a marvellous job on this challenge! Your Battenberg cakes look so delicious and so beautiful.:)

  9. You did a fantastic job! I have never attempted a cake like this and fear it would really be a disaster for me.

    P.S.
    Congrats on your first acceptance! So happy for you:)

  10. Sarah says:

    Looks good! I’m glad you were able to try the rolled buttercream!

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