Would you like a spot of matcha tea with your black sesame – ginger scones? By golly, I’ve done it again! I’ve taken something traditional and went completely barmy on it! Okay, I wrote a whole entry in ‘Brit’ lingo back in ’09, and I’m not going to make any of you who remember suffer through it again.
However, I’ve taken a thoroughly British cake called a Battenberg Cake, first created to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria, to husband Prince Louis of Battenberg, and infused it with Asian, mainly Japanese, flavors, and decorated it in kind. I know one thing for sure – as tasty and pretty as it is, it would probably shock the tickety-boos out of the Queen if it was served to her at any tea or special event.
Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last-minute to present us with the Battenburg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.
I was supposed to co-host, or shall I say sidekick this challenge with Mandy, but like a lot of promises and deadlines the past 3 months, I had to drop out (or delay). Not that I didn’t try, but, unfortunately, the humidity ghoul came stomping down on my jubilee again. I ordered a Battenberg pan because I wanted to take the easy way out, (which I will get to in a moment), and just my luck, two tries stuck to the pan because of the stickiness in the air.
I won’t bore you with the trials and tribulations of my homemade cashew marzipan,but I will say the humidity made it nearly impossible to roll out and wrap the cake in. so we ate it in chunks. and I regretfully had to inform Mandy I wouldn’t be able to pull this one out in time. It certainly doesn’t help matters when your brain has been scattered too.
Scattered brain doesn’t make for focused baking, decorating, or anything for that matter.
However, there is a light at the end of this tunnel. As a participant instead of co-host, I had some time to take advantage of a few clear weekend days and weeknights to play with the Battenberg, and my second cashew marzipan rolled out quite nicely.
As for the aforementioned Battenberg pan, when you see the challenge recipe, if you click the link below, you’ll notice that you don’t need a Battenberg pan to make this cake. A 7 to 8-inch square pan that you divide in half with parchment paper or foil works perfectly. Once the cake is baked, you slice each half in half, trimming off the uneven crusty bits to get perfect squares. Simple, right? Why spend the money on a Battenberg pan?
Well, I’m a horrible cutter/trimmer. I always cut things crookedly. This is why I bought the pan, to make my presently off-kilter life on-kilter. The less I have to think about something, the better.
So, now that I didn’t have to worry about anything other than slicing the top of the cakes off the pan with one quick and simple cut, it made it easier to play, and play I did. When I was going to co-host, Mandy asked if I might want to make a matcha – black sesame version, or something off the beaten path.
Since I did something very similar with the Daring Bakers Dobos Torte (egads, horrific photos – look away!), again, back in ’09, it was an affirmative. I added 1 tablespoon of matcha powder and 2 teaspoons milk to half the Battenberg batter, and 1 cup of black sesame seeds to the other half of the Battenberg batter. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
My original plan was to bind the cakes together with a sweet adzuki bean paste or an adzuki bean paste buttercream, like I did with the Daring Bakers Dobos Torte (Oh, those photos kill me!). I changed my mind after deciding that this Battenberg baby needed some chocolate. I steeped some fresh ginger in hot cream, then poured it over chopped, dark chocolate, letting it set to a medium ganache, and used that instead. Definitely a good decision.
For the wrap, I colored homemade cashew marzipan red, then added dark modeling chocolate (aka chocolate plastique – included in the challenge recipes) tree branches, and tiny white fondant Japanese cherry flowers called sakura..well, my version of them. I decided to do the flowers and branches at the last minute, and each flower took for-ev-er by hand, with no tools. I got so fed up after three, that I started pinching them into stars, so that was the most tedious part, but again, it was my decision, not something Mandy requested.
With that said, I’m not a fan of fondant, but there’s not a ton of tiny blossoms (or stars) so you can either eat them or flick them into the trash if you don’t care for fondant either.
Thanks for an awesome challenge, Mandy, my dear friend! To get all the recipes for the Battenberg cake, and see a gorgeous array of step-by-step photos, not to mention two awesome Battenburg cakes Mandy made, click HERE.