Week three of the Weekly Bake Off challenge (working through Mary Berry’s ‘100 Cakes and Bakes’) was the Battenburg Cake. This chequerboard of delight is a British tradition, gracing many afternoon tea parties and cake shop windows. Making it however, can prove to be a slight challenge, as recently shown on this year’s Great British Bake Off as one of the technical challenges.
In honour of chocolate week, I decided to adapt and mix Mary Berry’s two Battenburg recipes (one from ‘100 Cakes and Bakes’ and the other featured on The Great British Bake Off) to make a Chocolate and Walnut Battenburg. No excuse is needed to include chocolate really, but….
100g butter (softened)
100g caster sugar
100g self-raising flour
2 large eggs
50g ground almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tsp milk
1 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
2 drops of vanilla essence
25g finely chopped walnuts
4-5 tbsp apricot jam
4 walnut pieces (to decorate)
Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 3 and generously grease an 18cm square tin. You need to create two compartments in the tin, therefore cut a piece of greaseproof paper which is longer than the length of the tin. Fold it in half widthway, and then open it out and push up the centre fold to make a pleat which is taller than the tin. Line the tin with this and adjust to ensure that the pleat runs down the centre making two rectangular compartments (see the photo below).
In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, ground almonds and baking powder until the mixture is smooth. Transfer half of the mixture to another bowl and add the vanilla essence and 1 1/2 tsp of milk to this. In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and remaining milk to form a paste, and then add this and the chopped walnuts to the other mixture. Pour the each mixture into one side of the tin, and level the tops with a spatula.
Bake for roughly 30 to 40 minutes, or until the sponges are springy to the touch and start to come away from the side of the tin. Leave the sponges to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack. Once cooled, trim the edges to size, cut each sponge in half lengthways, and stack them together in the ‘chequered effect’. Try to ensure that all 4 pieces are the same size, however do not worry too much if they are not 100% identical (as my photo demonstrates!)
In a small saucepan, gently heat the apricot jam. Once heated, use the jam to stick the 4 stripes together. Brush the top of the assembled cake with the apricot jam, but make sure that you leave some for the other sides. Roll out the marzipan into a oblong shape which is large enough to wrap around the cake. Invert the cake onto the rolled out marzipan and cover the other 3 sides with the remaining apricot jam.
Wrap the marzipan around the cake neatly, creating a join in one of the corners and cut off the excess marzipan. Using your fingertips, gently crimp along the top edges, and arrange the walnut pieces down the middle. The perfect treat to have at the end of the day with a cuppa, enjoy 🙂