The June Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. She chose a fun little cake called a Battenberg. You’ve probably seen it in the store at one point or another since it is easily recognizable by its pretty checkered pattern. It is said to have been created to celebrate the 1884 wedding of Prince Louis of Battenberg to Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Victoria .The theory is that the four sections of the cake originally represented the four Battenberg princes – Louis himself and his brothers Alexander, Franz-Joseph and Henry. Mmmm….. but is it really true??? The only problem with this theory is that the earliest known recipes called for nine squares, not four. I have come across a most interesting site written by a food historian and it is his conclusion that the entire theory that this cake was created for the royal wedding is rubbish ans just some old wives’ tale. This type of cake had also been called a Neapolitan roll, domino cake and chapel window cake. Please go and read the three fascinating posts on this debunked theory.I love how here say evolves into “truths” over time. Very interesting.
Anyway, onto this utterly delicious cake. It is a genoise cake base and covered with marzipan (traditional) , fondant, or chocolate plastique. Although there are specialised Battenberg cake tins available, you don’t need one. This can be baked in a square baking tin and a divide made with foil to separate the two batters.
I made two different Battenbergs. First, a blackberry and lemon version covered with white chocolate plastique (tinted lavender). Since the cake has ground almonds in it I automatically loved it. What I didn’t care for was the modeling chocolate on the outside. Too sweet. Not the cake part- that was delicious, just the chocolate covering.
Next try, a cherry-rhubarb and toasted coconut version covered with marzipan. AMAZING. You can easily buy marzipan in the store but it’s really just as easy to make your own at home. It does require a food processor though, so if you don’t have one than go with store bought.If you want to add a flavour to one of the sponges in liquid form, make sure to add the same amount of liquid to the other batter in the form of milk. The batter is very thick and should be quite thick so don’t add too much.
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 (***see end of doc on how to make your own)
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
½ tsp / 2½ ml Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp (1¼ ml) Almond Extract
For the fruit side:
1/3 Cup cherry-rhubard puree (I just boiled 2 spears of rhubarb and 1 cup of cherries together with 2 tablespoons each sugar and water. After 5 minutes I strained it through a fine sieve and then measured it out. Any leftovers make a great ice cream topping)
For the coconut side:
2 ounces toasted unsweetened coconut mixed with 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk.
1/3 cup (80 ml) 100gm /3 ½ oz cherry jam (You can also use buttercreams, curd, ganache etc instead of jam to glue the cake together).
1 cup / 225gm / 8 oz Marzipan, natural or yellow
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 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 a separate bowl and mix in the fruit puree until thoroughly combined. Spoon this into one half of the prepared pan.Mix together the coconut mixture and spoon the batter into the other half of the prepared baking pan. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner
Bake for 25-30 minutes or 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 10 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 and cut each coloured 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 apricot jam and pass through a small sieve.
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. Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam and place the cake on the marzipan, jam side down.
Brush the remaining three sides with jam and 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
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 remove excess marzipan by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern.
Uncooked Marzipan Recipes
Chocolate Plastique/Modelling Chocolate