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.
Since I don't have a fancy Battenberg pan to separate the cake batters, I created divides using folded parchment paper. It was easy and worked like a charm!
Then it's loads of trimming and shaping to create your perfect little square strips of cake. Luckily this is a sturdy almond cake so it's not falling to pieces when you create the lengths of cake. I found it fun and easy to work with. And so pretty!
I glued my cake together using a simple chocolate ganache. It was easy to spread and the texture was nice and creamy in the finished cake.
I wrapped my cake in chocolate plastique. This was the most nerve-wracking part of my Battenberg journey but I carried it off without a hitch and it turned out wonderfully!
I tend to create beautiful things that are a little rough around the edges. We'll say "quaint," and this cake is no exception. It's crooked, but cute!
And in that same vein, I didn't properly groom my slices of crumbs prior to photos either. But it sure did taste good! I broke my piece up with my fork and combined multiple flavors in each bite. The texture was nice and sturdy but creamy throughout and the flavors balanced nicely. Not bad for a first time on the Battenberg!
You can find the recipes for a traditional Battenberg in this original DB challenge PDF. Those recipes are for a four-square cake. I wanted 9 squares so I doubled the recipe (written for an 8 by 8 tin) and used a 9 by 13 tin. It worked out just fine. Also, if you are confused by some of the tricks such as how to separate batters or assembly, check out the PDF link above. There are photo tutorials for pretty much everything here.
Mexican Chocolate Battenberg
Must be started 2 hours ahead of time, or the night before
14 oz Good Quality Dark Chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup Light Corn Syrup
1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally.
2. Once completely melted, remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.
3. Stir in corn syrup. Continue stirring until it's evenly mixed and it comes away from the side of the bowl.
4. Transfer chocolate onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Spread the chocolate out then seal with another piece of plastic wrap.
5. Leave overnight on the counter or refrigerate for about 2 hours until completely firm.
6. Turn out from the plastic and break it into smaller sized chunks. Knead on a surface dusted with powdered sugar. At first it will just break into smaller pieces, but as you knead, it will warm up and start to become pliable.
7. Knead until it's pliable enough to roll out without cracking, 5 - 10 minutes. This will take some serious elbow grease!
For the Cake:
1.5 cups (3 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
1.5 cups Caster Sugar
4 Large Eggs, room temp
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2.5 cups Flour
1 cup Ground Almonds
5 tsp Baking Powder
4 tsp milk, divided
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1 tsp red gel food coloring (or more for deeper color)
3 tsp instant coffee
1/2 tsp almond extract
8 Tbsp Dutch cocoa powder, sifted
4 Tbsp milk
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Grease a 9x13 baking tin with butter.
3. Line the tin with parchment paper with some hanging over each end. Creating two divides by pulling up some paper and creasing, 2.5 inches and 5 inches from one end with the parchment in order to separate your batters.
4. With a mixer, beat together butter and sugar until combined.
5. Mix in eggs, vanilla, and the next 3 dry ingredients and beat just until it comes together.
6. Spoon 1 cup of the mixture into a separate small bowl and stir in the cayenne, cinnamon, food coloring and 2 teaspoons of milk.
7. Spoon 1 cup of the mixture into another small bowl and stir in the almond extract, instant coffee and 2 teaspoons of milk.
8. To the remaining batter in the large bowl add the chocolate powder, 4 tablespoons of milk and mix well.
9. Spoon the batters into the sections of your prepared pan. Chocolate goes into the large section.
10. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is pushed into each corner.
11. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cake is well risen, springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean (it should shrink away from the sides of the pan just slightly).
12. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack.
13. Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife so no browned edges are showing.
14. Cut each small section in half so that you are left with 2 strips of sponge of the red and 2 of the lighter brown.
15. Cut the large section into 5 equal strips of cake (close in size to the other colors-you will have extra chocolate cake).
16. Trim all pieces so they are uniform in length and are uniformly square.
For gluing the strips of cake together.
Heat 1/2 cup heavy cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over 5 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Let cool slightly before spreading. When chilled, the ganache is creamy and soft, not crunchy. I sprinkled some cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne over my chocolate before I poured on the cream. It was a nice touch!
Glue all of your cake pieces together in your desired pattern using a thin and even layer of ganache. Roll your chocolate plastique out into a 12 inch by 12 inch square, trimming one edge into a perfect line with a sharp knife. Cover the long sides on the outside of your cake with a thin layer of ganache. I left one long side to cover in ganache after I had the thing partially rolled in plastique to reduce the mess. Starting at a bottom corner, roll your cake up in the plastique, pressing out air and smoothing as you turn and shape. Trim your remaining rough edge and seal the chocolate at the corner. Trim the ends of your plastique at one half of a finger's length and fold in like you are wrapping a gift. Score the top of your cake, if desired, and decorate with sugar pearls and edible gold dust.
Slice your cake with a very sharp knife. And enjoy!