It’s been a fine, fine few days here in the North East of England. We’ve seen some spectacular weather, alongside some of the worst. Hot and sunny or windy and raining. A tale of two halves. So what could be better on a rainy ‘in between’ day than a spot of baking? And what could be more appropriate than a cake of two halves?
Yes, you guessed it.
Traditionally, Battenberg is a pink and yellow cake, flavoured with almonds and joined using apricot jam. Originally designed for British Monarchy by Royal Chefs, Battenberg cake was baked to celebrate the marriage of Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine (the maternal grandmother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh) and Prince Louis of Battenberg. (Eventually becoming the anglicised ‘Mountbatten’, during WWII) The German use of marzipan in cake making and the use of bright food colourings was truly reflected in this cake!
This recipe is Mary Berry’s version. Chosen because bakers all over Britain are in the grip of the third series of Great British Bake Off (I include myself in that!). The Battenberg featured in series two, and, having been meaning to try it for ages, I decided to finally give it a go.
One of the challenges was choosing a flavour combination. I had settled on two possibilities. Firstly, red velvet and dark chocolate OR mint and chocolate. Now I KNOW this is hardly innovative… (and hardly impressive, when I look at THIS one, which is completely and utterly beautiful…) but I opted for mint and chocolate as my first attempt. (I PROMISE to try the other soon.)
BUT, for a first attempt, it was relatively fail-safe in flavours, allowing construction to be the focus.
I decided to make a chocolate side and a peppermint side and then to coat it in chocolate ganache and wrap it in a peppermint flavoured covering.
But first things first. Make the Battenberg tin!
Use one whole piece of foil to line the tin, making a central crease and ensuring this stands up, greasing it underneath to keep the foil from sliding around. Then grease each side of the foil separately and cut two pieces of greaseproof paper to fit into each section.
My method worked okay, but Korena’s over HERE is much better and made much more sense once I’d seen it!! You live and learn, right? Thanks to Korena for the wonderful step by step photographs.
Now make the cake mix. I made mine in a 9″ square tin. In my mix, I used 1 tsp liquid green food colouring. (It’s all I had) Next time I would use at least 1/4 teaspoon of paste colouring – I wanted a nice deep green for the mint side, but it didn’t work. It looked green in the tin, raw, but not once it had baked.
Here’s the lovely ALL IN ONE recipe, adapted from Mary Berry and Korenainthekitchen.
Battenberg Recipe (9″ tin)
200g (3/4 cup PLUS 1 tbsp) butter (I use very slightly salted)
200g (1 cup) caster sugar
4 free range eggs
200g (1 and 2/3 cup) self raising flour (or all purpose with 1 tsp baking powder added for each 100g of flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g (1 and 2/3 cup) ground almonds
6 tsp milk
15 g (2 tbsp) cocoa powder
green food colouring (paste is best)
1/2 tsp peppermint flavouring
Chocolate Ganache Substitute (No cream)
56g (2.5 oz) chopped chocolate
2 tbsp butter
80ml (1/3 cup) milk
65g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
1 pack of white sugarpaste (fondant)
1/2 tsp peppermint flavouring
* Preheat the oven to 170 degrees / 325 F / Gas mark 3. Prepare the tin, as above.
* Beat the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and ground almonds in a free standing mixer, with a hand held mixer or by hand until smooth and glossy looking.
* Separate the mixture into two halves. To each one, stir in 3 tbsp of milk and mix through.
* To one bowl of mixture, add the cocoa powder (I also added chocolate chips) and mix.
* To the other bowl add the peppermint flavouring and green food colouring. Mix well.
* Spoon each flavour into the separated halves of the cake tin.
* Bake for 25 minutes until springy to the touch and the cakes are coming away from the sides of the tin (or a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean).
* Leave to cool and then turn out onto a wire rack.
* Make the chocolate ‘ganache’ …
* In a saucepan, boil the milk and caster sugar. When boiling, pour over the butter and chocolate.
It should go from this:
* Allow it to cool slightly before assembling…
* Level the cakes.
* Cut each cake in half as evenly as you can. Put a mint half on top of a chocolate half and vice versa, using the chocolate mixture to ‘glue it’ together. Wrap it tightly in baking parchment and leave for an hour to ‘meld’ and anchor together, whilst you knead the peppermint flavouring into the sugarpaste (fondant).
* Roll out the fondant and then use THIS tutorial to help you neatly wrap the cake.
Thank you to Korena in the Kitchen and Mary Berry for the inspiration and expert tutorials.
Look out for Red Velvet and Black Guinness Cake Battenberg – my gothic tribute to Battenberg. Maybe it could be called ‘Count Battenberg’ ??