Indulge me in a bit of a tangent here. It’s officially been four weeks since I purchased my plane ticket to London. Out of those four weeks, I wish I were kidding when I tell you that I’ve spend at least a collective 10 days worth of hours researching my itinerary. I should probably also clarify what I mean when I use the word “itinerary”. By “itinerary”, I mean a map of restaurants/bakeries/markets I will be spending my time in. Yeah, sure Big Ben and Buckingham are important stops too, but come on, a girl needs to eat! When planning my “agenda”, I’ve been very sure to include at least one experience that I feel like every girl who goes to London should probably have…tea time! Whenever you look at pictures of fancy people sitting down to have tea with their fancy friends, you normally see a three tiered set of plates, filled with delectable finger foods just waiting to be daintily eaten. While I can’t guarantee that I will a) be with fancy people, b) be able to afford all three tiers, or c) eat daintily AT ALL, I WILL have that experience.
You know which treat I’m most excited to try? The one that I’ve seen Mary Berry eat before, of course…the Battenberg! This yummy treat involves the marrying of two different types of cake in a checkerboard pattern, joined together by some sort of jam, all rolled up in a layer of pretty marzipan. This is appropriate seeing as how, according to legend, the Battenberg was first created to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria, to her new husband, Prince Louis of Battenberg. While they may not have been joined together by jam, these two were still pretty badass. He was named the First Sea Lord for goodness sake! I digress…ANYWAY! Back to the Battenberg!
Most recipes for this cake are from the UK, therefore having all metric measurements. Instead of taking the time to convert all of these, I went off the beaten path and tried it my own way! Would you expect anything less? So, without further ado, introducing the Strawberry Mango Coconut Battenberg! Let’s get started!
First up, the marzipan. While this will be the last piece applied to the cake, it takes the longest to set up. Luckily, once you get the ingredients (almond paste is sometimes tricky to get your hands on), it’s pretty easy to make! You’ll simply break up the almond paste and place it in a stand mixer bowl with the powdered sugar. Mix this on low until it becomes crumbly and uniform. This might take up to 10 minutes…be patient!
At this point, pour in the corn syrup and water. Continue to mix until the mixture starts to form a ball. If this isn’t happening after a few minutes, drizzle in a bit more water until clumping begins to happen. This ball, once formed, can be wrapped in plastic wrap and set in the fridge for 24 hours.
Up next, the cakes! To start, I decided to go with my favorite vanilla cake base and split it into two to make the different flavors. The process of making the batter is a simple one: combine your dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls, and then slowly mix the dry into the wet! No mixer needed!
By weight, halve your batter. You can choose to flavor each half differently, depending on your tastes. In my case, I went with mango and coconut. For the mango flavor, I used a mango that had been pureed, and for the coconut side, I used a bit of extract. I also added a few drops of food coloring to the mango side to make the orange color a bit deeper. This step is definitely optional, but in a checkerboard design, I figure contrast between the two cakes is key. One important note though, you’ll want to add a few more tablespoons of milk to the coconut batter in order to balance out the liquid you just added to the mango cake.
To bake, you can either be REAL fancy and use a specific Battenberg pan (if you can even find one in the US…), or you can make your life easier and use an 8×8 square pan. I created a divider using folded tinfoil, and then covered that as well as the bottom of the pan, with parchment paper. Pour those batters into their own little cavities, and bake at 350 degrees for about 37-40 minutes, checking every couple minutes after the half hour mark.
Once your cakes have cooked and cooled, they can be removed from their pans. This is where the best part starts! Assembly time! Each flavor can be cut and half and trimmed with a serrated knife so that the pieces are level, and have equal width and depth measurements. By the end of the hacking…I mean trimming…. you’ll have four pieces of cake that are identical in size and shape.
I’ll let the pictures below explain, but you’re essentially building a wall using jam as glue where each piece of cake meets. Don’t forget to cover the sides with jam too!
You’re almost there! You now have a long block of cake waiting to be covered. Roll out the marzipan into a rectangular shape, with the shortest side being a couple inches longer than the length of your cake. Make sure to cover your surface and rolling pin with powdered sugar when rolling out the marzipan, or else IT WILL STICK AND MAKE YOU SAD.
You can choose to cover the cake in whichever way works best for you. Personally, laid the cake on one end of the marzipan and rolled it over until all of the sides were covered. The crease side should be made into the bottom side of the cake, and the marzipan can be gathered and crimped on the edges. It won’t look perfect on the ends, don’t worry. You’ll be cutting the ends of the cake off to reveal the design anyway. From here, you can leave it as it is, or you can make the traditional criss-cross design on the top using a dull butter knife. (Quick disclaimer: My first try was not perfect…because I didn’t use enough powdered sugar on my surface. The marzipan on the top of the cake had a few little holes in it. Not a big deal, but I had enough marzipan left to roll out another layer to lay over the top and sides to create a smooth finish. You’ll have enough too if this happens to you!)
There you have it folks, one of the many famous English desserts I plan on trying the real version of during my travels. With summery flavors like strawberry, mango, and coconut, one can’t help but feel a bit like they’re sitting on the beach when diving into this guy. (By diving, I mean eating carefully with a small fork and raised pinkies.)
Next week, get ready to live vicariously. I’ll be recapping my tear through the bakeries of London and Paris. Until then, stay tuned and stay hungry!
- ¾ lb. almond paste
- 5 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- 2 ½ tablespoons water
- 1 2/3 cup flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 2 egg whites
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- ¾ cup milk, plus 2 tablespoons
- 1 mango, pureed
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- Optional: food coloring (1 drop red, 2 drops yellow)
- 1/3 cup strawberry jam
- Break the almond paste into small chunks and place in stand mixer bowl. Add the powdered sugar.
- Mix these two ingredients on a low speed until the mixture is sandy and has no large chunks. This may take 5-10 minutes.
- Add the corn syrup and water. Continue mixing on a low speed until the mixture forms into a loose ball.
- Remove the dough, and wrap the ball in cling wrap. Refrigerate 24 hours.
- Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine melted butter and sugar.
- Mix in eggs, yogurt, and milk.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, being careful not to overmix.
- Split the batter in half by weight. Into half of the batter, incorporate the mango puree. Mix the extra 2 tablespoons of milk and the coconut extract into the other half.
- Line the bottom of a 8x8 square pan with parchment paper.
- Create a divider to put in the middle of the pan, using tinfoil.
- Pour batters into the separate cavities of the pan.
- Bake cake for 37-40 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Allow cakes to cool before removing them from the pan.
- Level and trim the caramelized edges of each cake. Split each type of cake in half. Use a knife to continue trimming until each flavor of cake has been made into 2 long strips with equal dimensions in width and depth.
- Apply a thing layer of jam to one side of a strip of mango cake. Attach a coconut cake strip to the jam side. Repeat this process to connect the other two strips of cake.
- Apply jam to the topside of one mango/coconut cake duo, which was just made. Place the other pair on top.
- Brush the remaining sides of the cake with jam.
- Roll out marzipan into a rectangular shape. Use powdered sugar on your surface and rolling pin to avoid stickage.
- Place cake on one end of the marzipan. Carefully roll the cake while holding onto the marzipan so that the marzipan covers all sides of the cake.
- Flip the cake over so that the seam is on the bottom. Use a butter knife to decorate top of the cake.
- Neaten by using a serrated knife to trim off the edges of the cake and reveal the checkered pattern.