There are a number of reasons to be patriotic on both sides of the pond this week, as far as I’m concerned. Firstly and most obviously – quick look at the date – Happy 4th July to all my American friends and readers!
Secondly – the olympic torch proudly came through the tiny little Leicestershire village where I work on Tuesday. Our office is about a mile outside of the village of Hoton, in the North of Leicestershire, not far from the Nottinghamshire border. We were amazed that it even came through such a tiny place, let alone the amazing turnout and village spirit!
The whole village (of which there isn’t much – it doesn’t even have a shop, afternoon chocolate cravings are quickly stifled by the thought of an 8 mile drive to the nearest one!) was decked out in bunting, the school children were out in force, and it was a great experience to be part of.
So, this in mind, I wanted to make a red, white and blue cake – apparently even all the jubilee cakes and biscuits hadn’t got it out of my system!
I looked up a few different recipes and sites on battenburg, but decided quite early on that, because I’d be using white fondant instead of marzipan, I’d give the whole almond thing a miss altogether. Does this make it not an official battenburg? I’m not sure!
So the mix was a basic sponge – 175g each of butter, caster sugar and self raising flour, plus 3 eggs. Also a note here on the Daring Bakers June battenburg challenge, which didn’t leave me short of inspiration or tips on the rest of my cake. Expect to see more from this site coming soon, I’m always up for something to test and expand my baking skills, so have signed right up 🙂
Back to the battenburg… I didn’t have a specialist battenburg pan (and can’t really see it’s worth it unless you’re making them frequently), but used and ordinary square cake tin, divided in half with normal baking paper and a few careful folds – all that origami has finally paid off!
The mix I also split into two and coloured. I can’t emphasise enough how brilliant paste colours are here. They give brilliant, vibrant colours with only a couple of drops (or, as it’s quite a thick paste, a good cocktail stick dab or two). The benefits are endless – no affecting your flavour, texture, or using up half a pot in one go… how many red velvet cakes have you seen that call for 10-20 ml or half a bottle of normal liquid food colouring? Surely that can’t be good for you!
The red one I think actually came from Asda, and the blue I picked up in Hobbycraft specially for this cake.
The mixture looked great all coloured up, and into the oven it went, 15 minutes later it reappeared, with the red having encroached on the blue slightly!
While they were cooling, I mixed up some white buttercream. This was achieved with some regular unsalted butter, whipped for several minutes with an electric mixer. The icing sugar was then beaten in, I used quite a lot for a thick consistency, and then a small splash of milk to thin it to a spreadable texture. By whipping it so much, you get a lot of air into the mixture which makes it very light and fluffy, and whitens up the colour
The two cakes were sandwiched together…
….then trimmed into an even, squarer shape.
A bit more trimming later, I had a shape I was happy with, and cut my square down the centre, ready to flip one side to get the checkerboard effect. There was rather a lot of cake cut off to make my square – did somebody say cake pops? – so I separated the colours back up, popped them in food bags and into the freezer – watch this space!
Another sandwiching with buttercream later, my cake was assembled and covered in rolled fondant, and trimmed again. I was done. Nearly…
Not one to shy away from decoration, I wanted to try my hand at a quilting effect on the fondant. It was easy and effective to do – just marking straight lines across using the straight edge of my cake scraper tool. Finally I finished the cake off with some tiny red & blue sugar balls, glued in place with a small dab of white icing – as I did on my union jack cake.
So – what do you think? Does it make you want Murray to win Wimbledon? The team to scoop lots of medals at the Olympics? Or shall we just be terribly British… and mull it over a cup of tea and slice of cake!
PS – a note. Nobody seems to know of battenburg or battenberg is correct. The spelling on safari doesn’t like either! So I’ve picked what comes naturally to me and stuck with that throughout. If you greatly object, well, buy me a dictionary for Christmas.
The last word in battenburg surely has to come in the form of this picture. How cute!