Being Indian I hate wastage. Of any kind. One of the reasons why I gained weight when I came to US (besides, the cliched that I got married) was that I was so used to finish everything on my plate, whenever we went out to eat, I ended up finishing the ridiculously huge portions of food served in restaurants here. Since we stay 4 hours away from all restaurants, doggy pack or to-go was not an option, and since I had the habit of not wasting, I ate everything. That’s why this month’s Daring Bakers’ challenged proved to be double the challenge it was.
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 have missed the last two challenges. Although I did a part of the April challenge, I could not get it posted because I was busy with my in-laws visit. Hopefully I should be able to post the recipe soon. ( I seriously have huge backlog!)
Now, I have been eyeing this cake- the Battenberg cake for a while now, ever since I was introduced to the Great British Bake Off cookbook. I don’t have it yet, but amazon’s site has a preview of the book and in that they show pictures of the cake. Since then it’s been on my mind. So when I saw this month’s Daring Bakers challenge, I knew come hay or sunshine, I would make it.
And make I did. Not one but two.
For my first attempt I made the traditional coffee & walnut cake that Mandy posted.
I took the challenge a step further and made my own marzipan. At home. With my two hands. On my own. With no prior experience. And well, I found it too sweet for my liking. But, I know marzipan is supposed to be sweet, so I guess it wasn’t all my fault. Some of it was though. Maybe. I guess. I don’t know.
Anyway the whole cake turned out to be overall too sweet for me. The cakes on their own, however, were delicious and perfectly sweet. But I guess the frosting and the marzipan just upped the sugar level quite a bit. Next time maybe I would use a jam (slightly less sweet jam for the filling) and try with store bought marzipan (just in case my sugar to flour ratio was off)
I sent it with V for his colleagues, and they liked it. V too found it a little sweet, but V and I tend to have our desserts on the slightly less sugary side.
Now, to the actual challenge part (making the cakes and assembling them seriously wasn’t too difficult). To make the Battenberg, you have to chop off the cakes to make them equal, so that left me with some crumbs and filling after I got the desired result with the cake. Since I could send the finished cake to V’s office but not the crumbs, it proved a challenge to me to not eat the crumbs all by myself.
So, I ran the crumbs with the frosting in the food processor. Added some flour and baking powder and some chocolate chips to the dough and made cookies out of the leftover crumbs. They were pretty good. I sent the cookies with V the next day and he came back with an empty box!
To learn how to recycle everything, take a lesson from an Indian! We are not only experts in recycling to-go boxes, but if challenged can get creative in the kitchen in other ways too!
The batter for the Battenberg cake is your basic sponge recipe- equal amounts of butter, sugar and flour (in weight). Although a lot of Battenberg recipes first cream the butter and sugar, Mary Berry swears she gets a better Battenberg sponge by using the all in one method. Now, that’s my kind of method! If you do use the all in one method, just make sure you don’t over mix the batter, once it’s all combined, it’s done.
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. You’ll see an example of this in the Coffee & Walnut Battenberg.
TRADITIONAL COFFEE & WALNUT BATTENBERG CAKE
Servings: +- 8
¾ cup/ 175gm Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
¾ cup / 175gm Caster Sugar
1¼ cups / 175gm Self-Raising Flour (to 1 1/2 cup flour add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt)
3 Large Eggs, room temp
½ cup / 65gm ground Almonds (Can be substituted with ground rice)
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
3 tsp Milk
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
1½ tsp Instant Coffee Powder or Granules
3 Tbsp / 25gm Walnuts, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) 115gm /4 oz Unsalted Butter, softened
2 cups / 225gm /8 oz Powdered (Icing/Confectioners’) Sugar
½ tsp / 2 gm Instant Coffee
1½ tsp (7½ ml) Milk or Cream
1 cup / 225gm /8 oz Marzipan, natural or yellow
1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C.
2. Grease an 8” square baking tin with butter.
3. 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 (see pictures below).
5. Whisk together dry ingredients (except walnuts and coffee) and combine with the wet ingredients in a large bowl (except vanilla and milk) and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth.
6. Spoon half the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the vanilla, 1½ teaspoons milk and chopped walnuts.
7. Spoon the walnut mixture into the one side of the prepared baking tin.
8. Dissolve the coffee in the remaining 1½ teaspoon milk and add to the remaining batter, stir until just combined.
9. Spoon the coffee batter into the other half of the prepared baking tin.
10. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner
11. 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)
12. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack13. Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife
14. Cut each sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge.
15. Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible16. Combine the buttercream ingredients together and mix until combined
17. Spread a thin layer of buttercream onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern (one walnut next to one coffee. On top of that, one coffee next to one walnut)
18. 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
19. Spread the top of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream
20. Place the cake on the marzipan, buttercream side down
21. Spread buttercream onto the remaining three sides
22. 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
23. 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
24. 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
Since the first attempt was fairly sweet, I thought I would try a version without marzipan and this time use dark chocolate plastique instead to cover the cake. I thought of using the chocolate and matcha green tea combination for my second attempt. I used traditional sponge cake recipes and did not add any almond flour. The resulting cakes were really soft but still worked with the Battenberg design. The sweeetness level was perfect in this cake, thanks to the use of cream cheese frosting instead of the traditional butter cream. I did have problems rolling out the chocolate plastique and halfway through working on the cake, I got some uninvited guests (read *people trying to educate the teachings of Christianity*) and thanks to the heat the plastique became even more difficult to deal with. But I managed.
Since I got more of the chocolate sponge cake leftover, I made some pastries with the leftover cake and served it to my girlfriends when they came over. To the crumbs and little leftover frosting, I added some milk and made a shake. Again perfect use of leftovers!
Part I: Chocolate Sponge Cake
Recipe adapted from here
- 55 g warm water
- 12 g cocoa powder
- 2 g baking soda
- 40g + 80 g icing/confectioner’s sugar
- 80 g cake flour
- 3 g baking powder
- 4 egg yolks
- 65 g oil
- 4 egg whites
- Preheat oven to 360 F.
- Mix water and the cocoa to make a thick chocolate sauce. Add baking soda in, and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and 40 g of caster sugar until sugar dissolves and the mixture turns pale.
- Whisk in the oil and then the chocolate mixture.
- Sift the cake flour with the baking powder. Fold in to the batter, until just combined.
- In another clean bowl, beat the egg whites till foamy. Gradually add in the confectioner’s sugar and beat till you get soft peaks.
- Gently fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture until just combined.
- Pour into a lined 23 cm by 33 cm pan (I used a loaf pan plus a 8 inch square pan)
- Bake for 15 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
- Cool completely
Part II: Matcha Sponge Cake
Recipe adapted from here
- 2 tsp matcha powder
- 1 1/3 tbsp hot water
- 50 gms cake flour
- 2 eggs, separated
- 60 g sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/3 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Dissolve the matcha in hot water.
- Sift cake flour in a large bowl and set aside.
- Whisk the yolks with 2tsp sugar and vanilla extract till pale and fluffy.
- Add in the matcha water.
- In another bowl, beat the egg whites with rest of the sugar until stiff peaks are formed.
- Fold the egg whites into the yolks. Fold in the flour and melted butter. Mix till just combined.
- Pour the mixture in a 7 inch square tin and bake for 20 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.
Part III: Matcha Cream Cheese frosting
Recipe adapted from here
- 8 ounce cream cheese, softened ( I used Neufchâtel cream cheese)
- 8 ounce unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened
- 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tbsp matcha powder
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Beat cream cheese and butter in the stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Add in 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar into mixing bowl. Beat on low till incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add in the remaining sugar. Beat on low speed for another 30 seconds.
- Mix in the matcha, vanilla essence and salt. Increase speed to medium and beat until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Use immediately or place in bowl and refrigerate covered with plastic wrap.
Part IV: Chocolate Plastique
- 200 g good quality dark chocolate (70%)
- 1/4 cup/ 60 ml light corn syrup/golden syrup
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring occasionally. Once completely melted, remove from heat and allow to cool a bit. (I generally just melt the chocolate in the microwave, nuking it 30 seconds at a time, mixing every time so that the chocolate is evenly melted.)
- Stir in the corn syrup. it will seize up, but keep stirring until mixed and it comes away from the sides of the bowl.
- Transfer chocolate into a sealable bag, spread chocolate out and then seal the ziploc.
- Leave overnight or refrigerate for about 2 hours until completely firm.
- Turn out from the bag and knead on a surface dusted with powdered sugar, at first it will just break, but keep kneading and it will warm up and become pliable. You can use gloves to knead. I generally roll it between two parchment papers.
Part V: Assembling
- Make the chocolate sponge cake, matcha sponge cake, matcha frosting and chocolate plastique (recipes above)
- Cut the sponges into equal sized square strips. You should have four long strips of sponge.
- Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible16.
- Spread a thin layer of the matcha cream cheese onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern (one green next to one chocolate. On top of that, one chocolate next to one green.)
- Roll the chocolate plastique in an oblong shape that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake
- Spread the top of the cake with a thin layer of frosting.
- Place the cake on the plastique, frosting side down.
- Spread cream cheese onto the remaining three sides.
- Press the plastqiue around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over.
- 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 plastique by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern. Decorate the top however you like or just leave it plain.