Friday, 27 April 2012

Lavender and Lemon Battenberg

A few months ago a friend at work proposed a baking challenge - she picked something most people wouldn't normally bake and that would be a bit technically challenging. Despite this, 16 of us signed up for it, and since we decided that we'd take turns with the tin (specially bought for the challenge, and provided as the prize), this means we're in for 4 months of eating battenberg!

This is my entry - look at me giving away the final outcome and killing the suspense!
Some people have gone for a traditional approach, but there have also been some very exciting combinations - the most exotic colour combination so far was yellow and (very bright) blue (vanilla and blueberry), and the very first contribution was coated (all four sides!) in chocolate. (I happen to know there's something even more exotic and stylish on the cards and am very excited to see next week's cake!)

The other thing that has characterised this challenge has been the level of stress. In some ways it's been more of a Battenberg Break-Down than a Bake-Off! I know several people have scapped their first attempt and remade it, and the tin (link to Amazon because I forgot to take a picture of it!) presented endless problems too. It doesn't have a non-stick coating, and once you've baked your cake, it can be very hard to get the pieces out without a problem. I had my own mini-crisis when applying the marzipan at 11pm the night before when all I wanted to do was forget the cake and go to bed! Luckily the marzipan coating wasn't too difficult and I didn't end up throwing cake all over the kitchen!

I decided to go with a traditional-look Battenberg, but with a non-traditional flavour, and used lavender for the pink quarters and lemon for the yellow quarters.  I'd been playing with the idea of a lavender sponge for a while, and almost made a lavender opera cake for the Headingley Clandestine Cake Club event last week, so had some ideas about how best to flavour the cake, and was almost very please with how it turned out... (you'll see why it was 'almost' at the end!)

Sponge - standard recipe (I was surprised when speaking to people how few people know this very easy technique for making a sponge!) :
Break your eggs into a bowl and weigh them (I used 3 for the size of the tin I was using and that's about right for a medium cake)
In a separate bowl weigh out an equal quantity of butter (at room temperature - if it's chilled oyu might want to pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it)
Add an equal weight of caster sugar.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light
Add an equal quantity of self raising flour - I weigh mine separately and then add a bit of flour and an egg, beat, then a bit more flour and another egg etc.

Then pour into a greased, lined tin and bake at 180 ºC until a toothpick/knife comes out clean
For the lavender sponge I used lavender infused caster sugar prepared by adding 2tsp lavender flowers (dried or fresh) to 100g caster sugar, and leaving to infuse (shaking every few days) for a week or longer. Sieve before using to remove the lavender flowers - those that pass through the sieve are fine to include in the cake, you just don't want big chunks! I also used a liquid food colouring, in liberal quantities, having been warned that it might fade when baking. When it went into the oven it was a very dark pink...
Once the cake had cooled, I prepared a lemon syrup (1/4 cup each of caster sugar and water heated till boiling in a panwith the juice of half a lemon). I repeated the process for a lavender syrup and boiled lavender flowers with the water, caster sugar and lemon juice, then passed the syrup through a sieve to remove the lavender flowers. 

I poured the syrups over the cake quarters, and then assembled the cake. First I stuck the quarters together with apricot jam. I then rolled out the marzipan using icing sugar on the counter to stop it sticking. I flipped the marzipan over, clean side down onto a sheet of baking paper, and smoothed a layer of apricot jam over the inside. I placed the sponge onto the marzipan at one end, and trimmed the marzipan to about 2cm from the edge (to form the seam). I then used the baking paper to roll the battenberg up in the marzipan - this worked really effectively and I can add instructions if anyone is interested! (Another trick is to keep your marzipan cool). Once it was rolled up I trimmed the edges, and scored the top, and there it was.
And the 'almost' happy bit... was down to the colour! It's not as obvious in the pictures (though the one below comes close...), but my dark pink batter turned into a bright orange sponge! I decided to go ahead with it as I didn't have any other food colouring to use, but it did look like it might be a carrot battenberg! (Apparently paste colouring is far more reliable and less likely to fade/change colour.) The taste was incredible - a really light, delicate flavour and I was very happy with the combination of lavender, lemon and marzipan - will definitely use it again!  

Doesn't this look like it might be a carrot or orange flavoured cake?!

1 comment:

  1. so whats the recipe for the hot cross buns
    Weekly Bake Off - Hot Cross Buns

    With Easter rapidly approaching I've shown great restraint (mostly inspired by the huge amount of cake there has been in the house) in not buying any hot cross buns yet. Mr Soup and I are big fans, and quite capable of eating a pack together in the space of a day, so it's better not to have the temptation there...
    But after this week's Weekly Bake Off challenge, I suspect that while Hot Cross Buns will remain on the menu, shop-bought ones won't, as they simply don't measure up to this tasty recipe.

    Having seen everyone else's pictures start to go up through the week, I was rather keen on having some Hot Cross Buns for breakfast on Saturday morning. In order to get the timings right, I made the mix, and left it to rise for the first time overnight in a warmed oven (reasoning that the oven would cool after an hour or so, and the yeast would not get completely out of control). This strategy worked, and on Saturday morning I woke to a big bowl full of risen dough. This was kneaded for a few minutes, and then I made the buns and put them to rise for a second time. Abking was only about 15 minutes, so about an hour after getting up, we had hot, fresh Hot Cross Buns - pure indulgence.