The Battenberg Battle


Sometime in the summer, my friend Adrian requested that I make one his favorite cakes - the Battenberg. Then in the fall, he helped me and Harry move into our new apartment, so I thought the time had finally come to make him this cake. 

I have never made a Battenberg cake before, so I decided to follow the recipe in this book and give it my best shot. This recipe actually ended up make two cakes and in the end was an adorable tea cake. For my first time I think I did alright, but I definitely almost gave up a couple of times along the way...

For the first part, I baked two different cakes, one colored with pink food coloring and one plain. Then once they're cool I cut them into long rectangular pieces which was surprisingly challenging. Getting them all even and not falling apart was tricky! Next I thinned out some apricot jam on the stove with a little bit of water and then used it to "glue" the pieces together into a square checkerboard pattern. This was so hard! I don't know how people make this look so easy - it's like building a little house or something. Finding pieces that all fit together with no gaps was near impossible. 

Marzipan Mishap

Then I tackled the marzipan that coats the cake. Following the recipe in the book, I bought "ground almonds" to make the dough - not realizing that you need blanched ground almonds. When I was making the first batch I kept thinking to myself "This doesn't seem right" but it took it getting to this stage - 

- where I said OK, this is nonsense. This isn't working at all and it doesn't look anything like white marzipan. So after some Google searching around I realized that you have to use completely blanched almonds. At this point I was so upset and frustrated I very nearly threw this and the cakes all in the bin. But after I couple of deep breaths, I grabbed my keys and headed to the grocery store to search for the almonds. 

I managed to find fine ground blanched almonds in the organic baking section and came home re-inspired to make this darn marzipan work. Here's attempt two:

This time it came together so much easier and didn't look like a bunch of strange granola. 
I then rolled out the dough into a thin sheet and carefully rolled it around the "cake stacks". The end result was a bit clumsy but not terrible considering I'd never done it before (is what I keep telling myself - secretly I am furious it didn't look neat and tidy and perfect! Does anyone else beat themselves up about silly stuff like this?)

I did some little marzipan decorations on top and gave Adrian the best looking of the two cakes. Hooray! I don't know if I'll ever make another one of these, but I definitely have so much more respect for everyone on The Great British Bakeoff who has! 

Pay no attention to the hole...

What's the most challenging thing you've ever made? I don't know if this is mine, but it's definitely a contender! 

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