Archive for June, 2012

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.

To Finish
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

Cooked Marzipan Recipes

Chocolate Plastique/Modelling Chocolate

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Oatmeal Twists

Well, I just got a message from dear Lisa over at Parsley, Sage , Desserts and Line Drives asking where I’ve been. Good question. Here, but not here. Still working on the kitchen since the smoke fire. After the new stove (Maytag Gemini double oven – best. oven. ever. At least in my price range…) was installed last month, I decided to repaint all of my 30-year-old kitchen cabinets. Which were painted over white before I even lived here. I always thought that they were just cheap plywood cabinets painted white, but after taking off all of the hardware and stripping the doors I found out they were cheap, wood grained chip board. Boy, how wrong was I (that’s sarcasm right there… )So I stripped, sanded and painted all 17 doors. I wish I could say they were smooth and beautiful. Not. Oh well, moving on. I painted the outside and inside of all of the actual cabinets. I say inside because when I moved in I had to by a hippie freak and paint the insides of all of my cabinets purple. Looks cool until you have to paint over it like 5 freaking times so it doesn’t show through the lovely lemon mousse colored you are going with now. Oh, and how about how every item stored in those cabinets has to be taken out and placed somewhere else. In  my tiny house. To spare you of the nasty details let’s just say that there was a small trail left open to walk through between the living room and the dining room with a small plate sized clearing on the table for my 6 yr old to eat. We ate standing up. A lot. After many days of this I get new hinges for my newly painted cabinets only find that after struggling put up doors (meaning that I butchered my newly painted cabinets with new holes) that the hinges would not work after all.

This is where small nervous breakdown occurs and I take it out on my poor unsuspecting husband and run out of the house crying.

Thank you to my friend Russell (a carpenter) for calming me down later in the day with encouraging words… He lets me know that all is not lost, but I do in fact need different hinges. Arghhhh!  I would also have to patch over the new “holes” I drilled about. BUT, I could and should put all of my stuff back in the cabinets since the paint was now dry. So I did just that, then took all of the unhung doors and hid them away in the basement for a few days. Break time. At least so I could still have my monthly supper dinner club.  And what a fine supper it was.

June menu:

pulled pork
coleslaw with boiled dressing (from the Southern Cookbook 1951)
collard greens and smoked pork hock
rhubarb crumb pie
lemon shaker pie (from The Joy of Cooking)

   Seriously, this was fine eating

Well, that was a lovely break. Sitting around the table with a large group of friends |(well, 7 of us) with interesting conversation always makes me feel better.

Since now I was mentally stable again (sort of) I bought new different hinges and only after 3 days was able to proudly say that all of my cabinet doors are now up. Well, one is a little wonky but I will wait for Russell to come back over to help with that one. Luckily I had a Danish almond cake in the freezer to give him as thanks last time. IT should be all smooth sailing now. Oh, except that since my crappy cabinets were built pre 1979 all of the measurement specs for door handles have changed! Talk about a sharp stick in the eye. So right now I am enjoying my lemon mousse cabinets with white doors. Without handles. To be continued. I can say with confidence that the next time I get the silly notion to do something like this again I will take a 2nd mortgage out on my house before the thought gets too far…………

The bread chosen this month for us Bread Baking Buddies is oatmeal twists. Elle, from Feeding my Enthusiasms, was the host, and her inspiration came from this post by Farine ( I must add that I find all bread bakers inspiring). These are lovely little twists packed with oatmeal, dried fruits and nuts. At least that is what was in mine. I want to try these again with cheese and seeds as recommended by Elle. I don’t keep a sourdough starter (I will complete this mystical achievement one day)so I made an overnight poolish instead. I also added some rye flour to my poolish for a little extra something. Did it make a difference? I don’t know . I will try these again with all white flour. I will say that they were delicious and wonderful treat with a little butter and a cup of coffee. I split the dough in half and put dried blueberries and pecans in 8 of them and dried figs, walnuts and anise in the other 8. Bake on!

Oatmeal Twists
based on Morning Cuddles at Farine
makes 16 twists

700 g sourdough starter (or poolish/starter of 350 g all-purpose flour mixed with 350 g water and 2 teaspoons yeast. Sit 3 hrs, stir down, put in fridge overnight, or at least 8 hours – use where recipe calls for sourdough starter.) I used 75 g rye flour and 275 g white flour

320 g all-purpose flour
230 g whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
115 g rolled oats, coarsely ground in a food processor
15 g salt
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
100 g pecans, chopped (I used 1/2 cup each dried blueberries and pecans OR 1/2 cup each chopped dried figs and walnuts with 1 tsp anise seed)

Mix the flours together with the yeast, oats and salt. Stir the water, buttermilk and butter into the starter. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the starter mixture until a soft dough forms. Let sit 10 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead in additional flour if needed until dough is tacky but not sticky. Knead in the pecans. Shape into a ball and put dough ball into oiled rising bowl or container, turning dough to coat with the oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. This might take 2 hours or 6. (Also fine to cover and let sit overnight in the fridge, then let rise until doubled on the counter the next day.)

When dough has doubled, turn out onto lightly flour board. Shape into a log and cut into two pieces. Return one piece of the dough to the rising bowl and cover.

Shape the second piece of dough on the board into a log and cut into 8 pieces, each about 100 g. Cut each piece in half and shape each piece into a snake and twist two pieces together a a time or two, then place twist on a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet.

Repeat with remaining 7 (100 g) pieces. You will have eight twists. Take the remaining large (about 800 g) piece of dough and repeat the shaping into a log, cutting into 8 pieces, cutting those in half and shaping into twists. You will finish with 16 twists set out on parchment or silicon mat covered baking sheets. Cover twists and let rise until doubled in bulk. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F when twists are almost doubled.

Uncover, glaze with buttermilk with clean pastry brush. If desired sprinkle with finely chopped pecans, or preferred seeds or with sea salt.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. If browning too rapidly, turn down the oven temperature. Turn the pans back to front and bake another 10 – 15 minutes or until breads are 180 degrees inside. Cool on a rack then serve.

Elle’s Variations: When you knead in the pecans you can knead in dried fruit like dried cranberries or diced prunes, apricots or dates to make a breakfast twist. If you prefer savory you can knead in herbs and/or Parmesan cheese and/or seeds. This bread loves to have you make your own combinations, so other nuts can also be used in place of the pecans or with them. I made my second batch without any nuts, seeds, fruit or herbs and they were yummy, too.

So please take a moment and go to Elle’s page to see her fine baking skills and make sure to check out the other extremely talented Bread Baking Babes masterful creations. The links are all on Elle’s page. It’s well worth it.

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