That’s it. I can no longer improve on cake making, for I have reached my peak with this:
My inspiration was The Elizabeth Sponge, made by Susanna Storey, winner of The Times Jubilee Bake-off competition:
This is a big cake, held together and covered with whipped cream, which I was quite prepared to try out. Then I read a part of the accompanying text:
One day, perhaps, it will be as iconic as the Battenberg, which was created by British Royal household chefs to celebrate the marriage of Prince Louis of Battenberg to Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine.
I do like to munch on a piece of Battenberg, so the wheels in my brain quickly began to turn and I adapted the recipe to fit.
You will need to make the following mix twice, once with blueberries and once with raspberries. Each mix makes 2x20cm square cakes. You need one of each cake to make a complete Battenberg, and it’s a fiddly procedure so you may well need to fall back on your spare cake.
295g butter (x2)
295g caster sugar (x2)
5 eggs (x2)
345g SR flour (x2)
2tsp baking powder (x2)
200g blueberries/ 200g raspberries (pureed and sieved)
zest of 1 lemon (x2)
Buttercream – 200g butter, 400g icing sugar, few drops of vanilla essence, tblsp of milk so it is soft enough to spread easily and work with as a glue.
450g packet of white marzipan
Preheat oven to gas 4/ 180C. Butter and line 2x20cm square cake tins. Cream butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Beat in eggs, along with a spoon of the flour, one at a time. Then stir in the lemon zest and one of your berry purees. Here’s my blueberry mix:
Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in carefully.
Divide the mix between your two tins and bake in the oven for approximately 35 minutes, until cakes are golden and spring back when the top is gently pressed. (The picture below illustrates my difficulties in adapting my existing bakeware to 20cm squares – I ended up using my sons’ wooden baby building blocks to hold the shapes in place. M’husband spends a lot of time moaning about the number of cake tins in the cupboard but on this occasion even he was moved to agree that I should buy some adaptable square tins.):
Put the cooked cakes to cool and repeat the mix with your raspberry puree:
This one smelt absolutely divine:
Once all your cakes are cooked and cooled, wrap each one in clingfilm and place them in the fridge for at least an hour – chilled cakes are easier to cut and assemble. Here’s theTimes’ diagram which was my (approximate) guide:
Remember, this is a Battenberg we’re making, not a standard sized Victoria sandwich cake. I trimmed the edges of my best raspberry sponge to make it more or less square then made my first cut (deliberately) a little off centre. I work mainly by eye, so the widest piece was to make my horizontal bar. I then split the smaller piece in half again to make the two vertical bars. These are ‘glued’ to the horizontal bar with jam or buttercream, and that filling means that the vertical lengths should end up about equal to the horizontal length. (jumping ahead of myself here, when it came to wrapping the completed cake with marzipan I forgot to check which way was up and the uncut piece ended up as the vertical bar – see pic at the top – but it made quite a nice square so I’m happy my estimates worked out more or less as intended).
Next I trimmed the edges of my blueberry cake and cut it into four lengths. I positioned one of the raspberry verticals on the horizontal bar to check my blueberry pieces would fit into the space left. Remember that the buttercream and jam used as glue will make them wider, so they should be a little smaller than the gap – don’t panic and lop off too much too soon as you can always trim the sides of the assembled cake later.
Cut the blueberry strips in half diagonally, lengthways. This is tricky and I ended up enlisting m’husband to hold the cake steady. Spread each of the newly cut sides with buttercream, then put jam on one of the sides and sandwich them back together. At this stage you can wrap each sandwiched strip in clingfilm and put them back in the fridge to firm up before the final assembly.
Place your horizontal raspberry bar on a large clean mat or piece of baking paper. Stick one of the raspberry verticals along its length using strawberry jam for your glue. Then spread buttercream along the remaining top of the horizontal and the sides of the vertical and slot in one of your blueberry sandwich strips at each side. Check the line of the filling is pointing the right way (fig.4 on the assembly diagram – diagonal from the centre of the ‘L’ to the outside corner). At this point, if you like, you can wrap the assembled piece in clingfilm and put it back in the fridge to chill – I kept going. In which case, carefully turn your partially assembled cake over and repeat the procedure to complete the Union Jack. Wrap the entire cake carefully in clingfilm and leave it to chill for a little while.
Sprinkle some icing sugar on your worksurface and roll out the marzipan into a piece big enough to wrap round the long sides of the cake (leaving the Union Jack visible at each end) with about 5cms of overlap. Spread buttercream over the marzipan, unwrap the chilled cake and place it in the centre of the rectangle. Smooth the marzipan up the sides of the cake and over the top, smoothing the overlap to ensure it stays in place. Turn the join to the bottom. If your cake measurements haven’t worked out quite as planned, a little gentle smoothing and patting over the marzipan will help nudge them into place. Wrap the whole thing tightly in clingfilm and leave to chill overnight.
In the morning unwrap your cake and trim each end with a sharp knife. Place it on a favourite plate, and put it in the centre of your table for all guests to admire!
If you still have cakes left over, trim the edges and cut each one in half. Stick a blue strip on top of a pink strip (or vice versa) with jam and buttercream, then slice it down the middle and turn one piece over to make a more traditional Battenberg pattern (ie alternating squares). Stick the slices together with buttercream and cover with marzipan as before.
Final step: sit down with a nice cup of tea (that’s Darjeeling for me please) and enjoy a big slice of cake.
And a very happy Jubilee to one and all.