I am too casual about this bake. Probably because it’s my third in four days.
This is my first three-spoon recipe and I’m pretty blasé about it. I blame Mondays, amiright?
Where to start. Well step one is preheating the oven and I didn’t do that.
Pre-step one was gathering the ingredients which I did do, and I did it poorly. I went to a bulk food store on my lunch break and had to pick up ground almonds, flaked almonds, glacé cherries and food colouring. The ground almonds container was completely empty, so I got extra flaked almonds. Well I assume they’re flaked almonds. If flaked almonds are the same as slivered almonds. Then I went a little further down the aisle and found the glacé cherries, grabbed a bag and started scooping. Here’s the thing, though. Glacé cherries are gross and sticky and gross. And putting them in a plastic bag is not the smartest move. Even the cashier judged me.
Back to step one.
I have to wash off all the syrup off the glacé cherries and cut them in half and then dry them and then cut them some more.
Then I have to sprinkle a teaspoon of the measured flour onto the pieces and toss it around to make sure they stay separate. Not a tedious process at all.
Then I had to prep a Battenberg tin. But I do not have a Battenberg tin. I have a regular brownie dish. It’s not even a tin. Again, I need to go shopping.
According to Mary and Paul, I can use a square “tin” and line it with parchment paper and then fold the paper in half widthways and set the folded paper in the middle of the tin. It’s a whole thing. I barely understand, but I did it!
I hope that it’s split down the middle.
Next up I had to sift the rest of the flour with the ground almonds.
But, if you remember, I didn’t get ground almonds. I got slivered almonds. But I figured I could throw them in the food processor and grind them up. Didn’t quite work out.
I figured it’d be okay. It was not. I had to sift it in with the flour but the chunks wouldn’t sift, so then I tried to clean out my coffee grinder so I could try that, and it worked a little bit, but still not enough. So there’s not quite 50 grams of ground almonds. I didn’t take any photos. My kitchen is a true disaster.
Next up is the butter.
I may have softened it too much.
I’m trying to use my KitchenAid even though I’m unconvinced about its ability to get everything from the bottom of the bowl.
First I had to whip up the butter until creamy.
Then I had to add the sugar and whip it up until fluffy.
Then I had to mix the eggs and almond essence in a separate bowl. Is almond essence the same as almond extract? I kind of feel like no because Mary and Paul told me to use a couple drops of almond essence and my almond extract pours, it doesn’t drip drop.
Can you smell this?
Eggs and almondness, consider yourself beaten.
Time to add it one tablespoon at a time to the butter and sugar.
It’s hard to do a tablespoon of eggy mixture. It just gloops. I did a handful of separate gloops, letting the mixture get mixed in between.
Then I had to fold.
So much folding with this recipe book. I care less today. It was a quick folding.
Now, I had to split the dough exactly in half by weight. But, like, logistically, like how?
Again, no photos, because my tired brain struggled. A lot. I measured out some batter into a clean bowl and then realized I had no way of telling how much was in the other bowl. So then I go another bowl but then I realized I didn’t know how much the first bowl weighed in total, so I couldn’t go back and reweigh it, so then I did a bunch of math on a scrap of paper. It was complicated. I think I got it one gram difference. But, again, I don’t care that much.
Now, in one bowl, I was to add the food colouring, a few drops at a time, to make it pink.
How pink is pink? I didn’t think that was pink enough. So I added more. And then more. I may have added too much. Did I?
Sure. After adding the floury glacé chopped cherries, I had to put almonds into the second bowl.
I ran out of bowls. I had to use kid’s Ikea bowls from the back of my cupboard.
After mixing both of the mixtures up, it was time to put my “Battenberg” “tin” to use.
I scooped it out, spread it out and hoped that divider would stay put.
Now to let it cook until the sponges are well risen and springy when gently pressed.
*20 minutes later*
Definitely not done yet.
*5 minutes later*
More done than five minutes ago but still not done.
I should explain what this is for and why I’m baking so soon (even though this post is getting posted not so soon). In three days, my work is having an Easter potluck and I chose this recipe because it seemed like a good one to share. Plus, I can prebake it and let it sit in an airtight container for five days. I have plans for the next two nights, so this was my only free evening to do most of this bake. There’s a whole thing about needing to assemble this, but that will have to be another day because I could not find marzipan.
Similar to the chocolate volcanoes, the question of doneness had me puzzled. It wasn’t springy. And it was very bubbly. Similar to the last sponge I made. I’m unfamiliar with sponges. But when I looked again and it kind of bounced back and a toothpick came out clean, i figured it was done.
It may be a little dry. But that might be okay because before I wrap it in marzipan, I’m supposed to soak some jam in between layers. I don’t want it to be soggy.
Also the pink is definitely trying to establish its dominance.
Now to let it cool.
*three days later*
So, I did it. And it was a near disaster. Near disaster? It was disaster-adjacent. Disaster-lite.
Has anyone seen that new show on Netflix called Nailed It? That’s how part two of this bake felt.
I’ll start from the beginning.
I got out my definitely cooled sponges that were slightly askew and tried to trim them to be even. That went okay, I think.
I’m saving the trimmings so I can “test” the cake without cutting into the cake later.
Now to deal with the marzipan. So I had no idea where to buy 350 grams of white marzipan. I asked at a couple grocery stores. One lady said “no” way too quickly which made me wonder if she even knew what marzipan was. The other lady was more helpful in that she asked around and it was decided that if it wasn’t in the baking aisle and it wasn’t in the candy aisle, they didn’t have it.
I was prepared to make my own, but then thought I’d text my sister who’s made marzipan-based recipes multiple times. Her answer? Ikea! Luckily she was even going to Ikea that day, so it was a win-win! Or so I thought.
I’d never dealt with marzipan before and I had no idea how to turn this:
The photos always look better right?
My sister initially told me to put parchment underneath the marzipan and clingfilm on top to roll it out, but the parchment just kept moving everywhere. So then I removed the parchment and did it just on the counter. That seemed to work better but this whole white marzipan ideal is not a reality.
My sister had never even heard of white marzipan before.
This is the issue of using recipes from an entirely different country and culture.
So now that I had the weird marzipan rolled out, I had to heat up the apricot jam to make it liquidy.
Then I had to start assembling.
Oh, there’s another small note to this story. My two-year-old niece is ten feet away from me. I wasn’t going to assemble this bake with her here, but alas I’m rather choiceless if I want to bring this cake to work tomorrow. So she’s watching Moana as I struggle through this.
Which was even better considering what happened a little later. But let me get back to the matter at hand.
Brush one piece with the jam, put it on the marzipan and brush the rest of the three sides.
Then continue so each piece is surrounded with jam and placed in a checkerboard pattern.
Then you roll it up and pinch it shut. Easy peasy, right?
Taking progress photos doesn’t quite get across how much of a disaster this felt like.
I was trying to roll it up without cracking the marzipan and getting apricot jam on the outside of the marzipan. So there was a lot of pinching and hand-washing and pinching and being extra careful going on.
It still didn’t look like the photo and that bugged me.
I then assembled a little mini one to try it:
I can really only taste marzipan. And the apricot jam which reminds me of those fruit leathers. What was the point of all that sponge work if I can’t even taste it?
(I’m very hard on myself. I should remind myself the ratio of cake to marzipan is off.)
I moved it to my container and stared at the wrong colour, wondering how I could fix it.
It does say to sprinkle it with icing sugar, so that’s what I did.
To an extreme degree. When in doubt, cover it with icing sugar, right?
Here’s the thing, though, my sifter was still drying so there were a couple water spots that I then had to go and cover up with more icing sugar.
But that’s not the best part.
Because my kitchen is miniature, I had to put the lid of my container somewhere, so I put it on top of all the glass jars I have on my fridge. And then when I grabbed the lid of the container, it caught on the wheat bran jar, which came tumbling off the fridge, smashed a corner of the cake and toppled to the ground to smash beside my (thankfully) Converse-clad foot.
As I said, I have never been so thankful for Netflix keeping a child bound to a couch.
I had to put the cake somewhere, so I put it in my fridge, then went and got my vacuum and slowly filled it up with wheat bran and glass pieces while grabbing the bigger pieces and putting them in the garbage.
Now I’m unsure of how to deal with the cake. Do I put it in the fridge? I don’t think so. Do I brush off some of that icing sugar? Possibly. Do I give myself a break and hope that people tomorrow are too polite to tell me it’s disgusting? Yeah.
And then fun doesn’t end. Tomorrow I have to start on the ridiculous amount of lemon sponge cakes I promised to make for my family’s Easter dinner on Good Friday.
Why do I do this? I need a break from baking.
*one hour later*
Coming back to this with a less frantic brain, the corner smush isn’t as bad as I thought. And in the morning when my baster brush is clean and no longer covered with apricot jam, I can brush some of this excess icing sugar off.
*the next day*
It’s a new day and I’m feeling less like a complete failure with this (although I did have hectic baking dreams).
I’ve brushed off the excess sugar so it won’t be a hazard if people accidentally breathe when taking a bite. And I’ve come to terms with the fact that the marzipan is a normal marzipan colour and not white like the photo.
Maybe it’s not terrible.
I guess I’ll find out if mine is the only thing untouched at the potluck.
*later the same day*
Surprise, surprise. I was too hard on myself.
Several people saw it and out-loud exclaimed, “Battenberg cake!” So apparently this is a thing. Someone else told me it was the perfect not-too-sweet flavour with a good texture. And someone else told me that the marzipan colour looked totally fine. So, future self, give yourself a break next time.
It turned out and disappeared pretty quickly. I even saved half a piece for myself and it is much better when the cake-to-marzipan ratio is as it should be.