Monday, 18 April 2011

Battenburg Cake

Recipe Number Twenty Five:  Page 54

I think I chose this mainly due to the picture of Mary Berry's Battenburg in the Baking Bible. It looks very attractive and tasty, obviously a great combination!

I have made one before. It was very fiddly, and the almond paste/marzipan was a disaster. However, I thought that as this is a Mary Berry recipe I should be in with a chance of a more successful result.

After my last bad experience with marzipan, I was a little anxious about making some more. I felt I should try out her recipe once so I could say how I got on. The recipe at the back of the book was for over double what I needed for my Battenburg, so I had to halve the ingredients. I was very worried about this, as maths has never been a strong point with me! But I worked it out in my head and on a calculator and confirmed it with Neil. I sieved the rock hard icing sugar into a bowl. The box had been open for ages, but Neil said it was wasteful to throw it away! I added the ground almonds; a whole egg and a few drops of almond extract and then stirred it into a paste. Fortunately I re-checked the recipe and saw that I also needed caster sugar. I hoped the addition of caster sugar would make it less paste like; it did not! How on earth was I supposed to knead this sticky substance? I sieved more icing sugar onto the worktop and gave it a go, but it was hopeless! Nevertheless, I wrapped it in cling film and stored it in the fridge until needed. Maybe that would firm it up. I could but hope.

Now for the cake. This was much easier, phew! Everything went into a bowl and was beaten until smooth. I placed half of the cake mixture into one side of my square tin, leaving the remainder in my bowl. I tentatively added a few drops of red food colouring. I was worried that I would add too much and end up with blood red instead of pretty pastel pink. When I was happy with the colour, I added the pink cake mixture alongside the plain cake batter. I made the join as neat as I could then I placed my multi-coloured cake into the oven.

The cake didn't rise that much, but I don't think it is meant to get that big. I left the cake to cool. Once cold I could get on with the fun, but scary part! I cut the cake into four equal strips and stuck them together using warmed apricot jam. I went to the fridge and collected my still squidgy paste! Even though I sensed it was a waste of time, I still tried to roll out the marzipan. It was no use; it stuck fast to the worktop and rolling pin. I was so cross! Neil was upstairs getting our little boy ready for bed. I called up the stairs that it wasn't working. He said not to throw the paste away, he would have a go. So we switched roles and, as I was tucking our little one into his cot, I could hear a few sighs and some laughter! Intrigued, I came down the stairs to find Neil in a right old mess. The cake had some paste stuck to one of its sides, but the rest was glued to the worktop. Neil said he had admitted defeat and very kindly went to the shop to see if he could buy marzipan. He came back with more icing sugar; our village shop does not sell such luxuries as marzipan. I warned him that if he just added icing sugar it would be way too sweet, but he thought he could at least make the cake look presentable. I saw the determined glint in his eyes, so I left him to it. Half a bag of icing sugar later and Neil proudly held aloft the finished Battenburg, tah dah! Oh! I hadn't arranged the strips of cake correctly; the whole chequerboard effect wasn’t happening, whoops! That's what I get for trying to cook our dinner at the same time. Yet again I had been distracted! The cake was OK, but the marzipan wasn't quite edible!  Neil and I both agree that you either need more time to spend on it or be a fairly experienced baker to achieve a really good result. I doubt that I shall want to make it again but, had I had some ready made marzipan, it may well have gone better. Anyway, Mr Kipling does exceedingly good Battenburg!

hmmmm.....something doesn't look quite right with this cake!!
A BIG thank you to everyone who has put such lovely comments on my Facebook Page, so nice to know people are reading and enjoying my blog!!!  Your support means a lot  :-)


  1. Your battenburg looks great. Home made ones aren't suppossed to look like shop bought ones, thats how we know they are home made.... and they usually taste better. I made one last week, but I added buttercream aswell as jam between the layers. It looked quite messy, but tasted delicious. Was worth the effort. I'm pleased to read from your blog that your other half is being really supportive and helpful. Although, I guess he gets to enjoy all your results too. Keep up the good work. I'm enjoying your FB comments, your pictures and your blog.

  2. Such encouraging words, thank you. Very good point, it shouldn't look shop bought. I love the sound of your variation, sounds delicious. Oh, Neil is so good, don't know how he puts up with me! I suppose a endless supply of cake helps!! Thank you for your support :-)

  3. Oh I love Battenburg cake - my absolute favourite, it looks delicious! Good work :) I love your blog!