Archive for June, 2012

Sometimes I forget that, despite speaking the same language, the husband and I grew up in different countries. I grew up with beach holidays, Anzac biscuits (never cookes), lamingtons, The Muddle Headed Wombat, Snugglepie and Cuddlepot and those green cakes shaped like frogs that were filled with cream and never tasted very nice. Then there were the ham steaks grilled with cheese and a ring of pineapple and that unfortunate period in the 80s where we tried to work out what you could do with a microwave. (The answer is reheat and defrost, by the way. Not cook). In contrast, the husband grew up with Scampi Fries, Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers and Dolly Mixture. And apparently, although it doesn’t seem to have played a major role, Battenberg cake.

Which brings me to this month’s baking challenge, set by Mandy of What the Fruitcake?! Mandy came to our rescue at the 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.

Mandy provided the following information about the history of the Battenberg Cake:

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.

She provided the following base recipe:

Traditional Battenberg:

Servings: +- 8

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
½ tsp / 2½ ml Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp (1¼ ml) Almond Extract
Red Food Colouring, paste, liquid or gel

To Finish
1/3 cup (80 ml) 100gm /3 ½ oz Apricot Jam
1 cup / 225gm / 8 oz Marzipan, natural or yellow

1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/160°C Fan Assisted/Gas Mark 4
2. Grease an 8”/20cm square baking tin with butter
3. Line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with the parchment (or foil)
4. OR Prepare Battenberg tin by brushing the tin with melted butter and flouring
5. 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
6. Spoon half the mixture into the one side of the prepared baking tin
7. Add a few drops of red food liquid/gel/paste to the remaining batter, stir until the colour is thoroughly distributed, add more colour if needed
8. Spoon the pink batter into the other half of the prepared baking tin
9. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner
10. 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)
11. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack
12. Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife
13. Cut each coloured sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge
14. Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible
15. Gently heat the apricot jam and pass through a small sieve
16. 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)
17. 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
18. Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam
19. Place the cake on the marzipan, jam side down
– Tip: Either in the middle or to the one side of the marzipan
20. Brush the remaining three sides with jam
21. 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
22. 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
23. 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

I tweaked the recipe a little bit by adding the grated rind of a lemon to the batter, which was very, very thick. I grated the butter and basically chucked all the ingredients together before mixing them fairly roughly with a hand mixer. I then tinted half pink, although you will see from the finished product that my division into halves wasn’t very accurate.

Cake mix. The pink thing behind the tin is my children’s toy cake. They like cake.

Trying to create the checked pattern

I didn’t have any marzipan and was too lazy to go to the shops again so I decided to make modelling chocolate/chocolate plastique using some white chocolate I had in the pantry. Let’s just say it was enormously frustrating and ended up in the bin. Luckily I also had some fondant icing in the pantry so I used that instead. The husband tells me that this is not traditional so I guess I lose some points for that.

Perhaps because of the pink icing, it was a big hit with the children, as you will gather from this photo:

The cake prodding occurred as the 2 year old was almost bouncing with excitement, yelling “Cake! Special cake! My favourite! I love the special cake!

I’m not sure I would go to the effort of making it again but it was, as always, a most enjoyable way to discover new baked goods (and bridge cultural divides!). Thanks Mandy.


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So, the other week the husband and I were driving to the Blue Mountains for the inaugural Glow Worm Tunnel Trail Marathon. I mentioned that I had had a lovely comment on my blog from someone with a blog called “Dining with a Stud” (hello Nic!). He immediately asked why my blog was not called “Baking for a Stud”. This lead to a lengthy discussion of our intepretations of the word “stud”. For me, a stud is someone with big muscly arms, who goes to the gym, lifts heavy things and puts them down again. And possibly then kisses their bicep in appreciation. The husband is a marathon runner. A very attractive marathon runner, but he saves his lifting for small children and kegs of beer.

Anyway, in the spirit of compromise I told him that if he won the marathon I would bake him a cake of his choice and then blog about it, using the title “Baking for a skinny stud”. I then thought that perhaps this was a bit harsh, so I offered a second prize – if he came second in the marathon I would still bake him a cake of his choice but I would call it “Baking for a big fat loser”.

It’s not going to come as a surprise to anyone who paid attention to the title of this post that, despite running a fantastic race, he came second. And won a gazebo! What a champion. Luckily he didn’t come third as he would have won a beauty treatment at the local spa.

He chose an English gingerbread cake with lemon butter syrup from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s book “Rose Heavenly Cakes”. It didn’t photograph well but I can assure you wholeheartedly that it was a damn fine cake. The lemon butter syrup really made it, even though I am not generally a fan of sweet syrups. I felt a bit bad about calling him a loser but a deal is a deal.

Cake on pretty plate

cake on a boring plate

And just to show that I am a nice wife, here is a picture of some crumpets I made for a post-long run Sunday breakfast the other day. I made them in the Thermomix using the recipe from Dani Valent’s book. The first few were too heavy and claggy but the last couple were scrumplicious!


We are off to the Gold Coast this weekend for me to run the marathon and the husband to run the half. I am hoping all the carb loading of the last few weeks pays off.

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