Thursday, 25 July 2013

Battenberg (and baked potatoes)

Tonight was the culmination of yet another culinary challenge from K&A. The theme was Battenberg and baked potatoes in recognition of Rhod Gilbert's latest comic DVD offering. I'll give you one guess as to who was providing the Battenberg...

First order of the day was research. Now a cake always has to taste good, but in this case appearance was just as important. A Mr Kipling Battenberg was duly procured. I'm not a fan of using food-colouring but there'd be no option this time. The determining factor for my square cross-sections would be the rise of the cake. Only once the cake was baked would I be able to determine the appropriate proportional length.

Interestingly the packaged described the multi-coloured cake as
chequered sponge with apricot filling wrapped in almond flavoured paste

Hardly mouth-watering, eh?

Once I worked out how to bake "squares" (I divided an 8" square loose-bottomed tin with a greaseproof paper-covered foil divider), I was just left worrying about making marzipan. My Dad always makes the marzipan for our Christmas cake so I knew it was possible and a damn sight tastier than the packaged stuff. I was amazed at just how easy it is making marzipan. Far simpler than I had expected. (Mind you, had the marzipan gone wrong I was prepared to resort to packet-stuff. Only as a last resort back-up.)

It turns out my cake was a behemoth when compared to the mass-produced ones. I'd provided the large Mr Kipling but there were also mini versions available. (It's as if there was no faith in my Battenberg-producing skills...)

In terms of overall appearance I think I did pretty well. It could have been a little pinker and maybe I should have trimmed the brown edges sides of the cakes. I also hadn't enhanced the yellow part of my cake, relying on the natural colour of the sponge.

Taste-wise I think I trumped Mr Kipling. My cake was less sweet and had a far less "false" chemical flavour. I was right about the marzipan being far more palatable too. I now understand why people say they don't like it. I wonder how many of those have actually tried home-made marzipan? It was so good even the leftovers were made light work of.

Anyway, on to the recipe

Recipe for Battenberg cake

3 eggs
6oz plain flour
1tsp baking powder
6oz caster sugar
6oz butter
1/4tsp almond essence
Red food colouring
Apricot jam
For the marzipan:
75g icing sugar
1 egg
1tbsp lemon juice
175 ground almonds
1 egg yolk

1. To make the cake make a three egg Victoria sponge batter in the normal fashion (cream the butter and sugar, beat in the eggs and then fold in the sifted baking powder and flour).
2. Divide the batter into two equal portions. To one half add red food colouring until a desired level of pink is achieved.
3. To the other half add the almond essence.
4. To prepare the tin, first of all grease liberally. Then make an 8" foil divider and wedge in the middle of the tin. Then line the tin, and divider with greaseproof paper leaving the ends overlapping (so that it is easier to remove the cake).
5. Put the two cake mixes either side of the divider and bake at 180°C for 20min or until done.
6. Once cool, stack the two cakes on top of one another and trim so that they are the same size. Then split in half longitudinally.
7. Gently warm some apricot jam and slacken with a dash of water until a smooth easily spreadable consistency is achieved.
8. Sandwich the four rectangles of cake together with the jam, making sure to alternate the cakes to achieve the chequerboard effect.
9. For the marzipan, whisk the egg, egg yolk and sugar in a bain marie for about 10mins until pale and thick
10. Take the "sabayon" off the heat and beat in the lemon juice and almonds until smooth.
11. Chill for 30 mins.
12. Roll-out the marzipan, dusting the surface with icing sugar. Ensure the marzipan is large enough to completely enrobe the cake.
13. Brush one edge of the cake with jam and place on an edge of the marzipan. Brush the remaining exposed sides with jam (not the ends!) then swaddle the cake in marzipan. Try to keep the seam at the bottom. Trim any excess marzipan.
14. Tidy up the end by chopping them off (chef's perk!) to reveal a marzipan encased cake.

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