Thursday, July 26, 2012

Battenberg or How I Came to Make Marzipan

YUM. And so pretty, am I right?

Took the month of June off from the Daring Bakers, mostly because I was too busy to bother, and when I logged in last week and saw what I missed, I knew I had to immediately correct my course.

Back. On. Course.

Blog checking lines: 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.

marzipan ball. see the white stuff? that's powdered sugar!

Mostly because this recipe allowed me to make my own marzipan. (You can too! Click here.)

I thought--gee, you can make that? And then immediately felt stupid because, yes, you can make almost all the things you can also buy prepared. Some--like butter--are probably more work than they're worth. Marzipan? I was willing to find out.

marzipan: rolled out and ready

It's worth it, folks. At least, if you're me, and you have half a bag of almond flour sitting around the house left over from this delicious dare, and you gaze longingly at the marzipan in the baking isle every time you're at the grocery store but refuse to drop $8 to buy it.

A little bain-marie, a little whisking, and you've got marzipan! (And the dogs each get an egg yolk. Dog score!)

I also must admit, my favorite part of this process was the kneading-it-like-bread-dough process, for which you use POWDERED SUGAR instead of flour! How great is that!?!? You can actually lick your hands clean when you're done.

But back to the challenge: the Battenberg. A cake with a checked pattern, for which there are special pans you can buy that feature four segments. For the purposes of this challenge, I did not buy a new special pan. Instead I ghetto-rigged a non special pan with tin foil, like so:

Tin foil. Not just for leftovers.

The first Battenberg cake was made to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Princess Victoria, to her Prince Louis of Battenburg. The checkered yellow and pink squares symbolize the four princes of Battenberg. How quaint, yes?

ready for the oven. sorry for the blur.

The cake is flavored with almond, which is to say, it has ground up almonds in it, which makes the cake quite toothsome and delicious. It's a simple sponge cake that's assembled and glued together using apricot jam and then the whole thing is covered in marzipan--more almonds. 

Out of the oven. Brown and smelling amazing.

For those of you following along at home, you know that almonds are my favorite of all the baking nuts and flavors. 

Trimming. See the edges in the background? You get to eat these as you go!


freshly rolled in marzipan

I will admit that I didn't do the best job of trimming and lining everything up. My top left pink strip was horribly thin on one end, but after trimming awhile, I just didn't want my little cake to get any littler. 

criss-crossy lines added per instructions

Also, the marzipan wasn't as sticky as I wanted it to be when assembling. Maybe I should have used more apricot jam. Maybe I should have made my marzipan oilier--which is to say, used more egg white.

The middle was more straight than the ends.

Also, when I look at everyone else's Battenbergs, it appears I was supposed to cut off all the brown edges from the tops and bottoms of the sponge as well, so as not to conflict with the pale yellow and pink of the pattern. But hey, if I had done that, the cake would be so tiny it would have been sad

No matter. The cake was incredible. The sponge, as I mentioned before, is quite toothsome and it stands up beautifully to the marzipan. The whole thing is made even more elegant by the thin strips of jelly between everything, soft and sweet.  So. Good.