'Bake and Decorate' by Fiona Cairns from a dear friend. It is a gorgeous book. Full of beautiful recipes and pictures with wonderful relatively simple but stunning ideas for decorating her cakes. It makes you want to rush off and create a masterpiece. Well want is one thing and do is another but when I opened the book the page fell open at the Battenberg cake. Oh what a rush of memories. Such a retro little cake. I remembered buying them in Marks and Spencers in the sixties. It was begging to be made. The recipe states it serves eight. Well in this case it served one.
Here is a little useless information for you.
The 4 squares in each slice represent the four German Battenberg princes (Louis, Alexander, Henry and Francis Joseph) at the time of the marriage on 30 April 1884 of Queen Victoria's granddaughter Princess Victoria to Prince Louis of Battenberg (1854 to 1921), who would become the grandfather of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. In 1917 Louis changed his surname from Battenberg to Mountbatten.
175g/6oz unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the tin
175g /6oz self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
175g /6oz white caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 or 2 tbsp milk, if needed
A little pink (or red) food colour
4 tbsp apricot jam
Icing sugar, to dust
250g /9oz yellow marzipan (or natural if you prefer)
Preheat the oven to 170ºC/fan 160ºC/340ºF/gas mark 31/2.
Lightly butter a 20cm square tin and line the base with baking parchment. Also cut out a rectangle of baking parchment, as long and deep as the tin, to act as a divider lengthways between the 2 colours of sponge.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, or in a large bowl with a handheld whisk, first sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the butter, cut into knobs, then the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat until smooth, adding a little milk to loosen the mixture if it seems too stiff. Weigh out half the batter and place the divider down the centre of the tin.
Carefully place half the batter into 1 side of the tin. Tint the remaining mixture pink - it's much better to do this not too exuberantly, so take care - and stir until blended. As neatly as possible, spoon the pink mixture into the other side of the tin.
Bake for about 30–35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and the cake springs back to the touch. Remove from the oven, leave in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack. When completely cold, slice each colour lengthways into 2 equal blocks, then trim off all the rough edges.
Warm the jam in a small pan, push it through a sieve, then use it to glue the strips of cake together lengthways, so the natural and pink colours form opposite quarters.
On a work surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out the marzipan into a rectangle the length of the cake and wide enough to wrap around all 4 sides. Trim it to size. Brush the remaining jam all over the cake and wrap the marzipan around the cake. Seal the join by gently pressing it together, then turn so this seam is hidden on the bottom. Trim the ends with a sharp knife, then score a criss-cross on the top surface.
© Fiona Cairns
This is Fiona Cairns recipe. The only change I would make is the tin. I think it would be much simpler if the mixture was baked in two separate loaf tins and cut in two. Using the divider is very faffy and requires a lot of trimming. I haven't tried the loaf tin but if you do before me let me know.
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