We survived series 1. Phew! There were some close calls and some big successes but its time to move forward. Series 2 is when the show really starts to hit its stride. Mel and Sue begin to crack some great baking innuendos and the bakes get more advanced, technical and supremely British. This first technical of the series, the Battenberg, is one of these very British recipes. At least that’s what I’m assuming since I’ve never heard of or seen one of these cakes before the show.
As is tradition I rewatched the technical before attempting this bake and I learned a lot. One of the seemingly endless food historians that the show interviews talked about the history of the cake and it’s connection to Prince Philip. After binge watching the Crown on Netflix and learning all about cheeky Prince Philip I was excited to pay homage to him in cake form.
There were so many new things to do for this bake. There was some Mary Berry endorsed origami, strange new ingredients and full-on construction of a cake puzzle! I had to hunt down some marzipan which according to BulkBarn is only stocked around the holidays (who knew?). But luckily they had some left over, which thankfully hadn’t expired. I did my ingredient prep which I realised is called mise en place and makes the process sound alot more dignafied than it actually is.
Then came the first challenge. folding parchment paper into cake divider for the pan. Reading how to do this had me feeling like…
Thankfully I knew what I was going for and just kind of folded and pushed until I got some paper sticking up in the middle of the pan.
The batter itself was pretty straight forward. It used the same ratios as the Victoria Sponge, equal parts, butter, sugar and eggs (look at me learning about baking ratios). I have to admit that I didn’t catch on to the walnuts and coffee being in the same half until very late in the game. I assumed one-half would be walnut and the other would be coffee. Nope – half was vanilla almond while half was coffee AND walnut. Here it is properly flavoured and in my not quite evenly split pan.
The cake took about 35 minutes to cook and I’m not sure if it sprung back as described but the edges were pulling away from the sides and the toothpick was clean. Mary doesn’t refer to the toothpick test but that’s how my Mom judges if a cake is done and, it has to be said, my Mom beats Mary Berry any day.
Onto construction. These cakes were tiny! I’m not sure if I’m used to the supersize generation but looking at them I was concerned about getting any sort of dessert out of them after all the trimming. I got out my trusty take measure and began the all too familiar baking calculations. I did have a pretty substantial hump in the middle of my cakes which mean I lost, even more, cake to trimming but I was more concerned about getting an even square than feeding a whole bunch of people. I trimmed and chopped and filed and got some mostly even cake soldiers.
What you can’t see in the picture above is that my walnuts mostly sank in the coffee cake. I know Mary would be appalled but my sunken nuts, but in my defence, she didn’t tell me to coat them in flour before putting them into the batter. Maybe Mary assumes anyone making a Battenberg wouldn’t make such a rooky mistake- never underestimate me, Mary.
I cheated for this next part. I had some coffee buttercream in the freezer so I thawed that and pretended I had slaved over it that morning. The actual assembly was messy and frantic so I don’t have any progress pictures. The cheater buttercream did the trick and I moved onto the marzipan. The marzipan was very dry but surprisingly pliable. I rolled it out and mummified my cake. Some more trimming and a decorative walnut sprinkle and I had a Battenberg.
It might not be quite level or big enough to feed a crowd but it looked the part. It tasted pretty good too. All the flavours were second to almond. This was probably because of the marzipan case which is basically a punch in the face of almond flavour. I liked making this finicky little cake, it looks impressive and I can imagine some different flavour combinations for the different cakes. Although if I make it again I would probably supersize the whole thing since when it comes to cake bigger is always better!