Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Daring Bakers' June 2012 - Battenberg Cake

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. 

I had never heard of or seen a Battenberg cake but our host provided this background information: 

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.

I wonder why the four princes were represented by pink and yellow squares? Perhaps to drive future bakers crazy. So I learned a few lessons this month.

1. Even a fancy tricksy cake like this probably won't look spectacular unless you put in a decent effort. I was haphazard with the slicing the cake and hurried the process of gluing the cakes together with jam. So the end result was a very amateur looking cake that I was a little embarrassed to present at my Mothers Group.

2. Chocolate plastique is not my friend. It was mandatory to use a firm edible covering - marzipan, fondant or chocolate plastique. According the instructions, chocolate plastique is a modelling chocolate made by melting chocolate, combining it with corn syrup, cooling it, then kneading it until it is pliable enough to roll out or mold. I was highly sceptical that this would work, but after reading the forum I decided to give it a go. I should have trusted my baker's instinct. Despite kneading for a very long time the chocolate remained grainy, oily and not even close to pliable. I was literally growling with frustration and had to throw a whole block worth of chocolate in the bin. Grrrrrrrrrr. Fortunately I had a good stash of almond meal at home and was able to quickly make some marzipan to enable to me to complete the challenge.

3. Really boring food photos can be improved with software.  

Thank you to Mandy for hosting this month. As always I learned a lot and I am really looking forward to seeing what the much better bakers and photographers of the Daring Kitchen came up with. 

PS - Check out this very cool Rubik's cube Battenburg 


  1. I love your commentary on this one :) I actually had some luck with the chocolate plastique, but I'll chalk that up to 100% luck this month, since I had more trouble with the sponge than I've ever had with anycake before, so I can't say I had skill on my side this month... LOL. And I think your finished Battenberg looks beautiful. Wonderful work.

  2. "Even a fancy tricksy cake like this probably won't look spectacular unless you put in a decent effort."

    So very, very true, sadly. My own effort had the same issues, Despite that, I think we both did ok. That chocolate plastique was a bastard though.

  3. I wonder what happened with your chocolate plastique? Interesting that so many bakers had either total success or total failure! Regardless, I bet your Mother's Group enjoyed the cake - I think it looks great!

  4. Wanna join my mothers group and bake for us?

  5. Well, despite your self-critique, I think this looks really beautiful, not to mention delicious!

  6. Yours looks great! I know exactly what you mean about the chocolate plastique. The exact same thing happened to me and I still for the life of me can't figure out what happened!

  7. I looked at the first picture again after reading and I agree with RUth, your cake looks beautiful!

  8. Super cute looking cake! I bet that was fun to cut into. I've never tried chocolate plastique before but I had no idea that could happen! Will have to try it out with extreme trepidation!

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