Although carrot cake came to popularity in England during the second world war, its origins stretch back several hundred years to the carrot puddings eaten in the middle ages. Carrot cake is a bit of a marmite food with people either loving or hating it; I have never met anyone who was ambivalent about it.
The emergence of carrot cake in the second world war came about because of sugar rationing. This led to people looking for an easy alternative and carrots were perfect as people could grow them in their back gardens. Luckily, you can’t taste the carrot in carrot cake but it gives a lovely colour and along with the use of oil instead of butter, helps the cake remain moist for a long time. I actually made the mistake of leaving the cakes on top of an Aga for about two hours as I took them out of the oven in a hurry and when I got back the cakes had not dried out at all!
Of course, you can’t have carrot cake without cream cheese frosting. Here in England the only readily available cream cheese is the spreadable version in tubs not the block cream cheese that you really need to make a good frosting. Spreadable cream cheese has a far higher water content and this water can cause the icing to turn into a runny soup. The best way to avoid this is to use butter as a base for the icing. This gives a rich flavour and also causes the icing to firm up in the fridge leaving it nice and smooth. The frankly obscene amount of icing sugar also helps prevent the collapse of the frosting.
I hope you enjoy the recipe.
For the cake:
450ml vegetable oil
450g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
530g grated carrot
150g chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting:
150g unsalted butter
240g cream cheese
840g sifted icing sugar
To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (1800C).
Oil and line four eight inch baking tins and place a circle of parchment on the base of each one.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar.
Add the eggs one at a time and whisk together after each addition.
Mix in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon in three batches.
Gently whisk in the carrot – you don’t want it to get shredded in the mixer so use the lowest speed setting.
Divide the cake mix between the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Leave to cool for ten minutes and then remove the cakes from the tins and leave on a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the icing, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy.
Add the cream cheese and beat again.
Mix in the icing sugar in three batches and start your mixer on slow each time to avoid the icing sugar going everywhere!
The moment the icing has come together, stop mixing it.
Place the base of the cake onto a serving plate and spread a layer of cream cheese frosting over this.
Add another layer of cake and frosting and continue until all the layers have been used up.
Spread a thick layer of frosting on the top of the cake. You can decorate this with little sugar carrots (normally available in the supermarket baking aisle) or sprinkles. Just bear in mind that cream cheese frosting is very soft and won’t hold its shape well.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe and your cream cheese frosting doesn’t turn to liquid. If you fancy a Mexican treat, check out how to make some spicy Enchiladas or if you are looking a different dessert, why not treat yourself to the bestapple crumble you will eat.
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a delicious risotto recipe.
When talking about classic cakes you must not forget to mention the lemon drizzle cake. Classy, sophisticated and packed full of tangy lemon flavour, this cake is sure to make frequent (although possibly short lived) appearances in your house. It freezes magnificently and can be defrosted whilst retaining all of its flavour.
The recipe I present below is far more like a Madeira cake than a Victoria sponge; it has the classic crack along the top and a denser texture which I have found holds up better under the deluge of syrup poured on top. Whilst you want the cake moist, you do not want it soggy and although you could use a standard Victoria sponge recipe for the cake mix (check out how to do that here, just replace the vanilla with some lemon zest), the cake can get a little mushy if there isn’t enough of it to evenly soak up the drizzle. An added benefit of the syrup is that if the edges of the cake dry out a little in the oven, they will absorb more liquid and end up just as soft as the rest of it.
Drizzle cakes are quite “in” at the moment. An appearance on the Great British Bake Off in the signature challenge a several years ago created a significant spike in their popularity as it showed that many variations are possible. I have seen bright purple blueberry drizzle cakes, vivid pink raspberry drizzles and even made a gin and tonic flavoured one. Citrus fruits are the safest way to go as the sharpness of the juice contrasts with the sweetness of the syrup giving a balanced flavour but as long as you make sure your drizzle is suitably tart, you should be fine.
Everyone says that their recipe is the best; theirs gives the most interesting and moistest results however yet again, the recipe I use is very similar to the one my mum uses when she bakes lemon drizzle cake and I have never found one that can compare. There is no sugar crust on the top and the syrup gets all the way through the entire cake thanks to the holes poked in before the drizzling commences – which must be done while the cake is hot! This results in a very even spread of syrup with a little more around the edges (but who is going to complain about cake with extra flavour?) Although they are traditionally baked in loaf tins, I like to make mine in a Bundt tin as it gives a beautiful shape to the cake and makes it particularly easy to portion out. It also allows me to turn the cake out onto a plate and give it a thick lemon glaze which does not sink in and gives the cake an appealing finish.
I like to eat my cake with a nice cup of tea during a work break or after a good meal. Let me know when you like to eat your cake be that as a treat or just whenever you possibly can – which is totally understandable and relatable.
Enjoy the recipe.
Lemon Drizzle Cake
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
8 oz. (225g) butter
8 oz. (225g) sugar
12 oz. (337g) self-raising flour (or plain flour with 3 tsp baking powder)
60 ml milk
Zest of 3 lemons
For the drizzle:
Juice of 3 lemons
4 oz. (112g) icing sugar
2 tbsp. Water
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4.
Grease the Bundt tin and line with flour – or use two loaf tins.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the lemon zest and beat again to incorporate.
Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of flour after each to prevent the mix from curdling.
Add the rest of flour and beat until combined.
Pour the mix into the tin(s) and spread out to an even layer. Give the tin a few bashes on the base by lightly dropping it onto a countertop to remove any air bubbles.
Bake for 45 minutes. If the top starts to brown too much, cover it with foil to prevent it from burning.
Remove the cake(s) from the oven and leave in the tins to start to cool.
Once the cakes have been removed from the oven, heat the drizzle ingredients until a clear liquid is formed.
Use a skewer to make lots of small holes all over the cake(s) ensuring that the holes go all the way to the base.
Slowly spoon the hot syrup over the top of the cake and let it be absorbed. If you are using a silicone mould, you can pull it away from the edges of the cake to let the syrup get all the way to the base.
Leave the cake(s) in the tins to cool.
Remove the cake(s) from the tin(s) and serve.
If you fancy, you can always garnish the cake with candied peel or a thick lemon glace icing (made from sifted icing sugar and a small amount of lemon juice).
This cake goes amazingly well with all sorts of tea and is super moreish. The moist crumb is quite dense but doesn’t go soggy resulting a cake that is both flavourful and a wonderful texture.
For another treat that goes fantastically well with a cup of tea, check out how to make my fluffy buttermilk scones or if you are looking for something a little more savoury, why not make yourself a hearty chicken pie?
Have a good one and I’ll be back next week with another recipe for a delicious soup – though this one is a little bit more summery!
The Victoria Sandwich is possibly the only time where I will promote putting jam on first and then cream. If one is using a buttercream filling, the jam goes on second but when using double cream, as you should for a traditional Victoria Sandwich, the filling is so soft that putting the jam on top of the cream would mean ending up with an awful mess.
The cake, as you may have guessed, is named after Queen Victoria and was created during her reign to celebrate the invention of baking powder. It differed from the pound cake, which was the standard cake at the time, because the Victoria Sandwich was a much lighter cake owing to the addition of a raising agent. A Victoria Sandwich should have cream, raspberry jam and be dusted with icing sugar. In the recipe below, like the recipe from the Women’s Institute, I use a little caster sugar instead.
The cake itself is created using equal quantities of flour, butter, sugar and eggs. It is a very quick and easy cake to bake and, if you are in a hurry, all the ingredients can be placed in a food processor and mixed until a homogenous batter is formed. The only problem with this type of sponge is how sensitive it is to oven times and temperatures. Their sensitivity is so high that they are often used to check ovens and every day before filming the Great British Bake Off, a Victoria sponge would be cooked in each oven to ensure the oven was working properly.
Owing to its simplicity, the Victoria sponge is a fantastic base for many other cakes. It is incredibly easy to adjust to create other cakes – replacement of the vanilla extract with espresso or lemon and orange zest leads to very different but no less delicious sponges. As it is very pale, colouring the batter is simple making Victoria sponge a classic base for rainbow cakes. If you are like me and don’t particularly like chocolate cake, Victoria sponge can be a great way to get your chocolate fix if you replace the traditional cream and jam with chocolate ganache. The cake is sturdy enough to withstand stacking and decorations can be placed on top to make themed cakes, I recently created a Harry Potter Cake!
It may be basic but the Victoria Sandwich cake is a classic for a reason.
For a medium sized cake:
170g (6 oz.) butter
170g (6 oz.) oz sugar
170g (6 oz.) oz self-raising flour or plain flour with 1 ½ tsp baking powder added
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
For a large cake:
225g (8 oz.) butter
225g (8 oz.) sugar
225g (8 oz.) self-raising flour or plain flour with 2 tsp baking powder added
2 tsp vanilla extract
150 ml double cream
Preheat the oven to gas mark 3 (160oC).
Butter two eight-inch tins and line the bases with parchment paper. Flour the sides.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla extract and beat again.
Add the eggs one at a time followed by a tablespoon of flour to prevent the mixture curdling.
Mix in the rest of the flour slowly until the mixture is fully combined.
Divide between the two tins.
For small cakes, bake for around 25 minutes.
For large cakes, bake for around 35 minutes until a skewer inserted in comes out cleanly and the cakes are beginning to pull away from the side of the pan.
Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool in the tine for five to ten minutes.
Take the cakes out of the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Once the cakes have cooled, whip the cream to soft peaks.
Remove the parchment paper from the base of the less domed cake and place it on the serving plate. If it is very domed on top, use a bread knife to level it.
Spread the jam over the top of the cake and then pipe the cream onto that. If you don’t have a piping bag, remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the top cake, spread the cream onto that and sandwich the two halves together.
Sprinkle a little caster sugar over the top and serve.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe and if the sound of coffee or orange cake tickles your fancy, have a look at my Coffee & Walnut and Chocolate Orange cake recipes! If you are a fan of sweet food, check out my fool proof recipe for meringues of if you are looking for something more on the savoury side, why not make yourself some delicious salmon? Its pan-seared, crispy skin and served with a light and fresh lemon couscous.
Have a good one and I’ll be back next week with another classic batch cooked meal.
A hot, gooey chocolate fondant is one of the most indulgent ways to end a meal and, like many baked goods, they are not as hard to make as most people think. There is something exciting about cutting into a cakey looking dessert only to have a chocolatey soup pour out ready to act as a sauce to the rest of the pudding.
Although fondants and lava cakes are relatively recent desserts in the grand scheme of things, appearing in the last 50 years unlike cakes and cheesecakes which are hundreds of years old, they have become incredibly successful. Many high-end restaurants serve them and they are a staple in the home bakers’ repertoire. They can be flavoured with fruit, coffee, caramel and all manner of different things so you can mix and match to make them perfect for you.
Fondants, unlike lava cakes, are made by creaming butter and sugar before adding the eggs and flour and finally stirring in the chocolate. The high chocolate levels and low amount of flour make them dense and fudgy with a melt in the mouth texture. Perfectly cooked fondants will still ooze when they are cut but the centre is thick and viscous and incredibly rich. On the other hand, lava cakes are made by whipping eggs and sugar until thick before folding in melted chocolate and butter and finally the flour. This whipping gives the cake surrounding the centre a light and airy texture and the high butter content means the centre is super runny and flows out of the dessert when it is cut.
Lava cakes and fondants are ideal desserts for entertaining as they can be made up to two days in advance and stored in the fridge until needed when they can be whipped out and shoved into the oven just prior to serving. Even better is that as a result of the refrigeration, it takes far longer for the centres to set so you are much more likely to get the runny centre you desire which looks so impressive on the plate.
Perfecting the chocolate fondant is a matter of trial and error. If they split when you turn them out of their ramekins, try cooking them for a little longer and if they are solid all the way through, reduce the cooking time a bit. The hard part comes if they start to burn during baking as can happen in some ovens with white chocolate and green tea desserts. The best way to avoid this is to place a little foil over the top of the fondant but it must be loose to allow the dessert to rise in the oven! Using a combination of these changes will allow you to get to know your oven’s preferred baking requirements for fondants and lava cakes.
These are so easy to whip up in a hurry – it only takes ten minutes and then the oven does the rest of the work. They are a personal favourite of mine and hopefully will become one of yours too!
Makes 3 cakes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes
180g dark/white chocolate
1 tsp Vanilla extract
30g plain flour
1 tsp matcha green tea (this is only for green tea fondants and you should use white chocolate for these)
Place a baking tray into the oven and preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (200oC).
Line the base of three ramekins with small circles of baking parchment and butter and flour the sides.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave stirring every 20 seconds to prevent it from burning. Set this aside once it is done.
Cream the butter in a bowl and slowly add the sugar until they are combined.
Add the vanilla to the butter and sugar and beat again.
Add an egg and a tablespoon of the four and beat until everything has mixed together. Repeat with the other egg.
Add in the rest of the flour and beat together.
(If you wish to make green tea fondants, add the matcha powder at this point and mix it through the rest of the batter)
Pour in the slightly cooled chocolate and mix through – the chocolate should be a little cool to the touch but not have started to set.
Divide the batter between the ramekins.
Bake for 12 minutes in the centre of the oven on the preheated tray. This will help ensure that the top of the fondants is fully cooked so they are less likely to split.
To turn them out onto a plate, run a knife around the inside edge of the ramekin. If the knife comes out with liquid filling, place the ramekin back into the oven for another two minutes. This is very important or the cake part with stick and the whole pudding will fall apart.
serve immediately with ice cream, double cream, salted caramel sauce or anything else of your choice – the possibilities are endless!
I have discovered that to get the perfect melty centre, you need to make these a couple of times to get used to the oven as the cooking time can increase or decrease depending on the oven that you use.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. If you fancy making a slightly less rich chocolate dessert, have a look at my recipe for a raspberry and white chocolate tart or if you are in the mood for a delicious main course instead, why not make a Thai curry? They are creamy and spicy and perfect to keep you warm over a cold winter (or at any other time of the year for that matter).
Have a good one and I’ll be back next week with a yummy vegetarian lasagne recipe.
I recently realised that in all of my recipes which used chocolate as a main ingredient, I have never actually talked about its origins which is something I am about to change.
There is evidence of the use of chocolate in drinks from almost 4000 years ago. The ancient Maya and the Aztecs were known to use it in drinks however the chocolate they consumed was nothing like what we have today. Cocoa beans are incredibly bitter and need to be fermented before they begin to taste nice. Even then, we still dry them, roast them and add sugar before they get close to our mouths.
The name chocolate derives from the Mayan word ‘xocolatl’ Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs) word ‘chocolātl’. The Mayans used chocolate in celebrations and religious events. As cocoa beans grew so easily in Mesoamerica, chocolate was widely available and as a result everyone had access to it regardless of social status. Chocolate was so well thought of that there are paintings of the Mayan gods drinking it.
Like the Mayans, the Aztecs valued chocolate highly and also thought it had religious significance. They believed the removal of seeds from the pods they grew in was analogous to the removal of the human heart in ritual sacrifice. They would season chocolate with pepper and honey before they consumed it – almost like the world’s first chilli hot chocolate (except they drank it cold). Unlike the Maya, the Aztecs could not grow chocolate themselves as conditions were unsuitable so it was imported. As a result, cocoa beans were extremely valuable and were sometimes used a currency. When they conquered the Mayans, the Aztecs forced them to pay taxes (or ‘tributes’) in cocoa beans.
Since then, chocolate has become a world-wide phenomenon. It is consumed everywhere in, frankly, ridiculous quantities. Back in 2014, Switzerland held the crown for highest chocolate consumption per head with the average person eating 9kg of chocolate a year!
To produce chocolate, the beans must be roasted, cleaned, have their shells removed and ground up to create cocoa mass. This is then heated so that the cocoa butter melts creating a smooth, liquid called cocoa liquor. This is then either processed or left to cool in large blocks of raw chocolate which is then sold to different chocolatiers.
The raw chocolate can be re-melted and the cocoa butter is separated from the cocoa mass. These are then recombined in different ratios along with sugar, milk and oils to create the chocolate we know and love. The cocoa mass must be ground up to very fine particles which is what gives the chocolate its smooth mouth feel and is why you can’t just add cocoa butter to cocoa powder and sugar to create chocolate – the cocoa powder has particles with almost four times the radius of those in professional chocolates.
The cocoa butter is also important to making good chocolate. When you make decorations, many recipes will call for tempered chocolate. This is where you melt the chocolate and when it is cooled, prevent the cocoa butter from setting, but stirring, until it gets to the right temperature. This is because cocoa butter has six different crystal forms only one of which is completely solid at room temperature and you don’t want your carefully crafted decorations to collapse before everyone sees them! One way around this is to buy compound chocolate where the cocoa butter is replaced with vegetable oils – this means that you don’t have to temper it!
Luckily, the recipe this week doesn’t call for anything super fiddly like tempering chocolate. It does make one of the biggest cakes I have created though. With four layers sandwiched with cream and caramel, this cake is incredibly indulgent, exceedingly decedent and definitely worth it. It’s perfect to feed a crowd and if you only want a small one, you can easily half the quantities and only make a two-layer cake!
Chocolate, caramel layer cake
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes (or 1 hour)
Cooling time: At least one hour
Decorating time: 30 minutes (plus 1 hour cooling)
Total time: 3 ½ – 4 hours
For the Cake:
100g cocoa (you want to use regular shop bought dutchy processed cocoa, not raw cocoa!)
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (180oC) and line four eight-inch baking tins (you may have to make the cakes in two batches if you have fewer tins and this will also help ensure the cakes all bake evenly). I like to butter the tins, put a circle of parchment on the bottom and then give it all a coating of cocoa.
Place the cocoa and the dark brown sugar into a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Whisk this together.
Cream the butter and the caster sugar until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes in an electric stand mixer.
Stir the salt, bicarbonate of soda and the baking powder into the flour.
Add an egg and a tablespoon of the flour mix and beat it together.
Repeat this until all the eggs are added.
Add in half the remaining flour and mix it together.
Add the rest of the remaining flour along with a couple of tablespoons of the chocolate mix to prevent the mix turning into a hard dough.
Add about a quarter of the remaining chocolate mix and make sure it is beaten through well so there are no lumps of while left.
Gently add the remaining chocolate mixture and slowly stir that through until all the mix is combined.
Divide this into your tins and bake them for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool before filling them.
To make the icing, beat the butter for at least seven or eight minutes until it is light and fluffy. This step is imperative to making a smooth, spreadable icing.
Add half of the icing sugar and slowly beat it in to prevent covering the room in a layer of icing sugar.
Once it has been incorporated, beat the icing again on a medium to high speed for another five minutes.
Add the remaining icing sugar and repeat, beating for another five minutes. If the icing seems to be getting dry and clumping, add a tablespoon of the milk.
Add half of the caramel and beat it into the icing – the rest will be used later. The icing should now be smooth and delicious.
Once the cakes are cool, it is time to assemble them.
If the cakes are very domed in the middle, it’s best to level them a bit at this point. Us a sharp knife or a cake leveller to remove the top of each dome so the cake will be a more even shape.
Whip the cream to soft peaks – it should be able to hold its shape but not have started to split!
Place the bottom layer on the cake board and pipe a circle of the butter cream around the edge.
Spread the inside of the circle with one third of the cream and one third of the remaining caramel.
Add the next layer of cake and repeat this until you only have one layer of cake left to add.
When you add the final layer, add it upside down so the top of the cake is a smooth, flat surface. You may have to build the icing wall up a little higher on the third later to support this if your cakes aren’t completely level.
Cover the entire cake in a thin coat of icing and chill for an hour.
Once the cake has chilled, cover it in the remaining icing keeping about 4 tablespoons back for decoration.
Use the reserved icing to pipe designs onto the cake. You can make them more visible by adding a little cocoa to the icing so it stands out.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe and that you love the cake when you try it! If you fancy a little bit more baking, why not have a go at making some Brandy Snaps or for a quick and easy meal, make yourself some One Pot Pasta!
Have a good one and I’ll be back next week with a delicious curry recipe – it’s even going to be vegan!
To those of you who celebrate, have a very merry Christmas and to those of you who are not Christian, happy holidays! Whether you celebrate or not, one thing that you have probably taken advantage of is the myriad of festive foods which are available at this time of year. Whilst things like Christmas cake and Christmas pudding tend to divide people into the group that likes them and the group which thinks they were created by the devil in the eighth circle of hell, one thing that I feel almost everyone likes is the Yule Log.
The original Yule Logs were not cake. They were, in fact, a carefully selected piece of wood which was burnt around Christmas time. This started around 800 years ago in Europe. It was a huge lump of wood meant to last the entirety of the twelve days of Christmas; the stump left at the end would be used to kindle the log the following year. The stump would be kept in the house and was believed to ward off bad luck and illness.
The modern cake version of the log is a swiss roll masquerading as a tree stump by scratching the icing and often using leaves and berries as decoration. Whilst originally a plain Genoese sponge with a chocolate filling, nowadays you tend to find the reverse; a chocolate sponge with whipped cream inside. This is then slathered in chocolate ganache, buttercream or truffle mixture which is textured to look like bark. It is not uncommon to take a large slice and rest it on top of the log to resemble a branch.
I really like swiss rolls as they are incredibly simple to make. They can be created in 90 minutes and are certain to impress anyone you serve them too. As it uses a whisked sponge, the cake is very light and bakes in a short space of time. Whilst people always make a big deal about how to prevent the roll cracking, the answer is simple: don’t let it dry out! Avoid overcooking the sponge and make sure to place the damp towel over it while it cools. That’s all you need to do!
Although it is traditionally a Christmas dish, this cake is still perfect at any occasion during the year and owing to the speed at which it can be made and assembled, is a very good one to have in your baking inventory.
100g caster sugar
60g self raising flour
For the filling:
300ml double cream
¼ cup caster sugar
¼ cup water
2 tbsp Bacardi or other white rum
For the ganache:
300ml double cream
300g dark chocolate
20g dark brown sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
Line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (2000C).
Place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until its thick and creamy (about eight minutes).
Sift the cocoa and flour into the beaten egg and sugar and fold together taking care not to lose too much air.
Pour into the tin and spread out evenly.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.
While the cake is in the oven, make the syrup.
Heat the sugar and water until the sugar is completely dissolved and place into the fridge to cool.
Lay out a piece of baking parchment larger than the swiss roll tin.
Remove the cake from the oven and flip out onto the parchment and remove the paper covering the base.
Place a damp tea towel over the cake to make sure it doesn’t dry out!
While the cake is cooling, make the ganache.
Heat the cream, vanilla and sugar until the cream is just about to boil.
Pour the cream over the chocolate and butter and leave for three minutes.
Whisk the ganache until everything comes together.
Set aside to cool.
Whip the cream to soft peaks – you do not need to add sugar as there is enough in the syrup and cake already.
Add the Bacardi to the syrup.
Remove the tea towel from the top of the cake .
Use a pastry brush to brush a layer of syrup onto the cake – this will help keep it moist and roll properly. You don’t need to saturate it, just give a nice coverage.
Spread the cream onto the cake going up to both long edges and one of the short edges – make sure to leave an inch along one of the short edges to start
Use the baking parchment to start to roll the cake up. Lift from the short edge (with no cream) and fold the edge over, try not to crack the roll (but its fine if it does start to crack).
Continue to roll up the cake – try to get a nice tight roll.
End with the outside edge on the base so it doesn’t unroll!
Once the ganache has started to set but isn’t hard – it should hold its shape when a spoon is dragged through it – cover the cake including the ends. The easiest way to do this is by placing lots of small blobs over the cake and then spreading them out.
Use a fork to make circles on the ends and run it up and down the length of the cake to make it look like a tree.
This makes a perfect end to a Christmas dinner for those who don’t like Christmas pudding (or have both).
It is an ideal dessert if something goes wrong with your planned pudding as you can make the whole cake from start to finish in 2 hours.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. Let me know in the comments if you try it at home or drop me a tag on Instagram @thatcookingthing. If you like this and want to keep with the Christmas spirit, check out my gingerbread house recipe. It tastes amazing and looks incredible. It’s a showstopper at any occasion! Alternatively, for a slightly more savoury meal, why not try your hand at making miniature beef wellingtons – a delicious dinner and surprisingly easy to make.
Have a good one and I’ll be back next week with a healthy soup – ideal for a quick lunch and that new year health kick to make up for the Christmas guilt.
The idea for this particular post actually came from one of my housemates. I was feeling rather uninspired and asked around what they thought I should make and one of them suggested this – I did make her a Battenberg birthday cake a few years ago. I am really glad she suggested this though as I forgot how nice fresh Battenberg could be!
Battenberg cake has a light, almondy sponge and can be flavoured with several different things. While the standard Battenberg cake is a long, 4 segmented pink and white chessboard, it has spawned a myriad of other cakes. The first one I made was back in 2011 after the Great British Bake Off technical challenge was Mary Berry’s Coffee and Walnut Battenberg. As a lover of both coffee and walnut cake and baking, I had to try it out! The cake itself was really good but as I discovered, I am not the biggest fan of marzipan! Since then, I have seen countless variants on the Battenberg popping up, some with chocolate, some with mint or green tea. You can even make circular Battenbergs now though that does seem a little time consuming to me!
It is traditional to glue the sponge and the marzipan together with jam (either strawberry or apricot) however I don’t really like jam that much so I tend to use buttercream. The cake is reportedly accepted to have been created for the wedding of Louis Mountbatten to Princesses Victoria (granddaughter of Queen Victoria) however there do seem to be appearances of the Battenberg cake under other names. The cake is so distinct that the black and white squares on police cars and ambulances are called Battenberg Markings as they look so much like the cake.
The recipe below can be doubled to make two or three cakes (depending on the rise). Cook the white and pink sponges separately and then carve them up to create the long squares for the cake. The last time I made this, the sponges didn’t rise as much as I hoped so I ended up with three slightly smaller, square Battenbergs instead of two larger but squashed cakes.
For the cake
175g softened butter
175g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
150g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
2 tbsp milk
For the Icing
100g very soft butter
150g sifted icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (1800C)
Line an 8 inch square tin and use the parchment to create a divider down the middle
Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the extracts and beat again.
Add the eggs one at a time with a small amount of flour to prevent it curdling.
Add the last of the flour and the almonds and beat gently until it is all combined adding the milk to slacken the mixture down slightly
Take out half of the mixture and add a small amount of red/pink rood colouring until the batter reaches the desired shade.
Pour the two colours of batter into different sides of the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Beat the butter for the icing and add the icing sugar and vanilla.
Beat until soft and smooth.
Trim the edges off the cakes to remove the caramelization.
Cut each cake in half lengthwise and trim until each piece is square.
Using a thin layer of icing, stick the four lengths of cake together, put a thin layer of icing around the outside and place in the fridge for half an hour.
Roll out the marzipan to you desired thickness.
Place the cake (icing side down) onto the marzipan and add a thin layer of buttercream to the exposed side of cake.
Wrap the marzipan around and trim off the excess.
Trim the edges of the cake the reveal the classic Battenberg pattern.
Use the excess marzipan to decorate the cake.
Let me know if you try this cake at home or tag me on Instagram (@thatcookingthing). I love seeing what you guys create.