Another long absence of recipes, and I do miss the blogging community! But life has been happening in a very unfortunate way lately, and it seems that the way I’m coping is to bury my head in the sand avoiding as many of my responsibilities as I can get away with… More than I get away with in all honesty – it’s a good job I have understanding college tutors put it that way!
When I started this blog, everything was looking beautifully rosy and I was fit to burst with the need to share that with everyone. Don’t get me wrong, there are still many things I have to be thankful for, but unfortunately the bad seems a lot more prominent than the good at the moment. I won’t go into any detail because it is personal and family related, but I am outlining the current atmosphere alla Anna to ask you most pleasantly, “Please will you bear with me on this one?” I will even share a recipe for Battenberg cake with you?
This is me anyway (just to show I’m alive – it’s not flattering in the slightest, I look tired and bug-eyed, but then maybe I am bug-eyed and I am probably tired. That is fine by me! The background is cool though I think):
And this is Martin, because he too is alive and well, although really, I wish he would eat some of my Battenberg. He refuses to eat his lizard food after all! Oh, and the back of the love’s head. Also alive:
On a more practical note, it has been difficult for me to post as everything I touch seems to break at the moment. The love had lent his camera charger to a friend so I couldn’t upload photos and my laptop decided to develop one tiny little issue that cost me £126 to repair today. So if I really am going to get back in the posting saddle now, you can expect recipes I created before I was conned out of a ridiculous amount of money, or meals including Spam. Just for a while of course
Wouldn’t you know that my phone has been on the blink for weeks now too? “Life doesn’t happen in ones”, as my wise and wonderful friend Hayley once said, “that would be too easy”…
Now, for the cakes -
- it really is worth making 2 because it is not much more effort than making 1, and making 1 is quite a lot of effort! Well worth it though, as it tastes just perfect, just like ‘the real thing’, and it is always so fulfilling to create something that you normally only ever buy processed. Did I mention you can freeze one of the cakes for up to a month as well? So there really isn’t much to complain about
What I like to do is prepare the batter for each cake in a separate mixing bowl, just so I can relax while the first cake is in the oven. I wouldn’t bake them both at the same time to avoid uneven cooking and all that. In any case I only have one appropriate tin. So that’s why I’ve put 2 times all of the ingredients, rather than write the list out twice. I would like to make one thing VERY clear: Almond extract goes in the PLAIN cake, NOT in the PINK cake. PINK food colouring goes in the PINK cake, NOT almond extract. You would think this was straightforward, but if you’re anything like me…
If you follow my bossy rules you will find that the process of actually making the cakes is easier than you could imagine! The difficult part (for me at least) lies in assembling the damn thing, but that is because I am a caggy-handed monster who tends to balls things up when it comes to making them look neat and beautiful (have you seen my gingerbread house!?). I am sure you will be much more adept than me
Makes 2 Cakes, Each Cuts Into 10 Slices
- 2 x 175g softened unsalted butter
- 2 x 175g golden caster sugar
- 2 x 140g self-raising flour
- 2 x 50g ground almonds
- 2 x 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 x 3 eggs
- 2 x 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract (for the PLAIN sponge mixture!!)
- 1/2 tsp pink food colouring (for the PINK sponge mixture!!) – you may need more or less depending on the intensity of the paste. Don’t attempt to use red thinking it will pass off as pink. It really doesn’t, and again you may think this is common sense. But if you’re anything like me…
- 200g apricot jam
- 1 x 500g block marzipan (white or golden)
- icing sugar, for dusting
- Firstly, line a 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 180°c.
- Literally plonk 1 times the first 7 ingredients each into 2 mixing bowls, adding the almond extract to 1 and the pink colouring to the other. Mix it aaaaall up until it is nice and smooth!
- Scrape one bowl of mixture into the tin, spreading it out to the corners, and bake for 25-30 minutes while you lazily scroll through Tumblr (I’m not speaking from experience of course)… The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
- Re-line the tin and proceed as above with the second cake! While this one is baking, I would prepare the jam and the marzipan. Heat the jam in a saucepan until runny, then sieve. Lightly dust a work surface with icing sugar, then roll out the marzipan as thinly and as oblong-y as you can, remembering that you need to be able to cover 2 rectangular cakes with it. This is easier said than done, so you can, if you like, buy 2 blocks of marzipan to save on stress. This does cause an awful lot of waste though, and once battered about on a work surface and dotted with specks of icing sugar, there isn’t really a lot to use the leftover marzipan for! It is a shame to chuck away such celestial almondness… Moving on, I find it best to lift the marzipan up off the work surface from time to time to make sure it doesn’t stick.
- Assuming that both of your cakes are now cool, slice a sliver of cake off three sides of the square, purely for neatness. Then substantially trim the remaining un-trimmed side of each, creating 2 rectangular Battenberg-sized cakes. Roughly measure the height of the cakes, then use a ruler to cut 4 slices the same width as the height on each cake. So you’ll have 4 pink and 4 plain long rectangles, with equal hight and width. Again, this can be very wasteful, but people tend to be more willing to eat scraps of cake than scraps of mauled marzipan.
- Brush the marzipan with the apricot jam. Lay one pink and one almond slice next to each other at one end of the marzipan, leaving about 5cm clear marzipan at the end. Brush jam in between the slices to stick them together. Brush more jam on top of the sponges, then lay a pink slice on top of the almond slice, and an almond slice on top of the pink slice. You know what you want, a checkerboard pattern! Trim the marzipan to the length of the cakes, then lift it up over the cake, smoothing it as you go. Crimp the edges with your fingers and thumb, or use the prongs of a fork. Repeat with the remaining cake!
As mentioned previously, the cake can be frozen for up to a month. Otherwise, keep them in airtight containers/covered in cling-film for 3-4 days.
This has got me thinking of all sorts of exciting flavour combinations you could use! I keep thinking lavender and something… Maybe lemon? It will have to be done.
And may I leave you with a stunning but entirely unrelated picture of flowers courtesy of the love?