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.
For this month’s Daring Bakers challenge, we were introduced to the Battenberg Cake, something I’d admittedly never heard of. When I first saw the photos of it, I got pretty excited, because what a pretty way to design a cake! What I found is it’s not so easy to make it as beautiful as in those introductory photos, but I certainly gave it a shot.
Traditionally, a Battenberg Cake is made with two different colored sponge cakes, and then wrapped in marzipan. However, I don’t like marzipan, and I needed to test a couple of cake recipes for a wedding cake I’m making later this year, so I decided to try two of those cake recipes for the Battenberg Cake, and I made a chocolate plastique coating to go around it.
The cakes both came out wonderfully – I used a Red Velvet Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and a Vanilla Layer Cake recipe from Annie’s Eats (to which I added sprinkles, since the wedding cake will have a layer of confetti cake in the middle!). I chose both of these recipes based on their photos, believe it or not, because the textures looked exactly like I wanted them to. I am looking for cakes that have a really good, strong structure, so they will be able to hold up as a wedding cake, and also so they won’t crumble messily as soon as a knife cuts them. The red velvet cake also has a higher percentage of cocoa powder than other recipes, and I like my red velvet to have a distinctly chocolatey taste. Both cakes had a wonderfully moist but firm texture, and the red velvet had a lovely, mellow chocolate flavor.
The chocolate plastique recipe was provided for the challenge, and while I had no trouble making it, I had some trouble handling it. It went from rock hard to soft and mushy in mere seconds it seemed, so my chocolate coating was applied very unevenly. If I did this again, I think it would come out better, but I definitely prefer more reliable products like fondant for projects like this. Too bad that’s not traditional for a Battenberg Cake!
I used leftover chocolate buttercream to “glue” the cake pieces together, which ended up complementing both cakes nicely, and worked well as a binder. Despite it’s rather haphazard appearance, I was still happy with how the cake came out, and how the flavors all married together. I’m not crazy about the chocolate plastique, but only because I know I’m just eating globs of chocolate and corn syrup. Just doesn’t sit well with me! But it ties the cake up into a pretty little package, and makes it so nice to look at. I’m glad I was introduced to this cake, and think I’d like to play around with variations in the future.
If you’re interested in trying a Battenberg Cake yourself, Sprinkle Bakes has a recipe you can try. I’d also highly recommend the the Red Velvet Cake or Vanilla Layer Cake (which actually comes from an ice cream cake!).