Festive teatime favourite

26 Dec

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Christmas baking in glorious technicolour!

Inspired by William Tempest’s photograph on his Facebook page I decided to have a go at his Christmas Battenburg.  As an almond lover Battenburgs are one of my favourite cakes; a light vanilla sponge in bright pink and yellow encased in a cloak of marzipan.  The best history of the Battenburg is given by food historian Ivan Day on his blog, which dispels the myth that the cake was created to celebrate the wedding of Princess Beatrice (youngest daughter of Queen Victoria) to Henry, Prince of Battenburg and has some wonderful images of the most intricate Battenburgs with 25 piece chequerboards from the early 20th century.

Over the past few years there have been a range of variations on the classic Battenburg; Mary Berry’s coffee and walnut Battenburg that was a Great British Bake Off technical challenge and the Union Jack Batternburg produced to celebrate everything from the Royal Wedding of 2011 to this year’s Olympics.

William Tempest’s Christmas version however is unmissable, largely because of its amazing coloured red and green sponge.  Merry Christmas everybody.

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The basic vanilla sponge mixture

IMG_3781 Setting up the baking tin to get two colours – the results of frangipani mince pie baking in the background

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The baked sponge, ready for assembly

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Creating the layers (cinnamon buns in the background).

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Rolling out the marzipan; in retrospect I think that I made this a little too thin (see results below).  I went for white marzipan which of course is not as white as fondant icing but definitely more traditional and tastes far better.

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The finished cake and its miniature companion created from the off cuts.  I didn’t have a holly cutter so I had to create the leaves by cutting them out with a knife which was particularly easy.  The silver degrees were also difficult to keep in place and all over Christmas I’ve had to endure caustic comments from my mother about the unnatural colouring of the Battenburg sponge but I’m still pleased I gave it a go. 

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