The Prince of Battenberg

The Prince of Battenberg was a rather illustrious man. A lover, a singer, a fighter. He protected the Earth from dragons and giant spiders and aliens from outer space. Yes, he did, why do you think we can’t find any of these things nowadays?

How did he do it, you might ask?

Overdid it a little with the food colouring

Apart from his mighty constitution, he subsisted solely on Battenberg cake. And he had a shield with a battenberg design on it. When he was ready for battle, he would close his eyes and crouch behind his shield. The sign of the battenberg would then shoot out of his shield like a laser (think Captain Planet with only 2 colours), and it became a giant multicoloured light sabre. He was then able to yield it like a mega-sword.

As Battenberg cake was the source of his special powers, I thought it was prudent to learn to make one.

They don't need to be super even. Ready to roll This is how we crimp itIf you want the real story of the Prince of Battenberg, you can find it on Wikipedia here. I think mine is more interesting. Though even without his super batten-sabre, Prince Louis was apparently a pretty successful fellow.

Seriously, don’t let other websites fool you into thinking this cake is rocket science. If you can roll out pastry (like make cookie-cutter biscuits and apple pie) then you can totally do this. It’s a cut and paste job, and the marzipan is pretty easy to roll out with a rolling pin.

Psychedelic yet sophisticated

Battenberg Cake

Almond Cake

I used the almond sponge recipe off BBC (tweaked to suit what I had in the kitchen), though any almond sponge will do.
Note that the cake gets better after a few days as the flavours meld. I don’t like almond cake, but I have it on good authority.

140g self raising flour – or normal flour with an extra 2 teasp of baking powder
150g brown sugar
175g butter, softened
3 eggs
1/2 teasp vanilla extract
1/2 teasp almond extract

Red food colouring
Yellow food colouring
Baking paper

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C for around half an hour.
Yield: 1 20cm square cake tin, split into two for the 2 colours.

  1. Dump all the ingredients in a food processer and mix until smooth. Wasn’t that easy?
  2. Divide into 2 bowls. Colour one bowl pink and the other yellow. As you can see, I added a bit too much food colouring. This affects cooking time, if you add very little then check whether it’s done at about 25 minutes.
  3. Grease your baking tin. Cut 2 sheets of baking paper to the size of the tin. Fold them in such a way that you get 2 “pockets” for your batter in the cake tin. Make sure you score the corners with the back of a spoon, else your cake won’t have sharp edges and you’ll end up wasting *even more* cake. Fit these 2 pockets into the cake tin (see the picture above if you think I sound crazy).
  4. Pour each colour of cake mix into one of the pockets. Don’t worry, they won’t mix – the batter is pretty thick.
  5. Bake, and leave to cook thoroughly.

I like to build it build it

A pink bar cake – you just made these cakes, you clever fellow
A yellow bar cake
About 500g of marzipan
A few tablespoons of smooth apricot jam
Icing sugar

  1. Stack your bar cakes one on top of the other. Using a sharp knife, cut off the edges so they stack together nicely. Then, cut them in half and switch the top and bottom layers on one side so you get a chequerboard pattern of pink and yellow (see pics above if you’re confused).
  2. Heat up some jam in the microwave so it goes a bit runny. Use the runny jam to stick your 4 strips of cake together. You can be pretty generous with the jam.
  3. Powder a surface with a little icing sugar (I did this on a chopping board to minimise mess). Roll out your marzipan, to a size large enough such that you can wrap the 4 strips of cake in it. You don’t want the marzipan to thin or it won’t be able to hold the cake together.
  4. Paint runny jam all over the marzipan.
  5. Roll the cake into the marzipan, trying to keep the marzipan as tight as possible. Once the edges meet, trim the marzipan with a knife so it sits flush with the corner of the cake.
  6. Pinch all the way along the bottom two corners of the cake with your fingers, no one will see this because it’s at the bottom of the cake. Try not to be too violent though.
  7. Roll the cake back right-side up again. Slice off the two ends of the cake so it becomes a nice even cuboid, covered with marzipan on all sides except the ends.
  8. Decorate as you will, sir.

If you leave it to sit, the marzipan hardens and tightens up

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Jammy Fingers and a Custard Face

Many of my cooking adventures seem to begin this way. I found what is probably a very nice recipe for Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes in the Hummingbird Cake Days book. But I thought it was slightly too involved (read: I’m lazy).

I kinda want one of these scales but they're so irritatingly inaccurate

I wanted:

  1. A cupcake that resembles an English dessert. After much thought, I settled on  the Jam Trifle
  2. Not to have to slave away making proper custard for icing (as in the Hummingbird recipe)
  3. For said custard icing to not-melt in the heat
  4. Not to have to spend loads on buying fresh berries
  5. Not to have to layer everything in a very involved manner (as in the Hummingbird recipe…well it seemed involved to me)
  6. To maintain the nice springy cupcakes that the Hummingbird book produces

Dangerously close to my computer..again

My task was not made easier by the fact that I had left my Hummingbird book in Melbourne, apart from the page with the Raspberry Trifle Cupcake recipe which I took a photo of (on my phone). You don’t really want to be my cooking buddy do you? Please?

Though I ate jam and icing, I did not eat cupcake lids. Proud?

After much thought (well not really thought…internet research), I settled on a solution. My solution was to take the normal Hummingbird Vanilla cupcake recipe, flavour the icing with Bird’s custard powder, and fill with jam.

So essentially just a normal vanilla cupcake with normal icing and a jam filling.

Not much less involved I agree, but I at least I didn’t have to stand around over a pan waiting for eggs and milk to clump together.

Better with a raspberry on top? Fresh berries are exp in M'sia

This was the first time I’d ever done filled cupcakes. I think it really made a difference, but I also think I wouldn’t make it a habit to fill cupcakes. Unless there is a good reason (Jam Trifle cupcakes are a good reason).

Why, you might ask? Well firstly, it takes aaages. And secondly, I almost made myself sick with the amount of jam and custard icing I ate.

Bliss..cupcakes and tea

Good afternoon to you.

Jam Trifle Cupcakes

Based on the Vanilla Hummingbird cupcakes, and heavily adapted. I found the original recipe in The Telegraph. I got 9 decent sized cupcakes out of this recipe, though the original states 12. Perhaps I ate too much batter? On a side note, this isn’t the yummiest batter in the world to eat raw.

The icing is taken from Nigella’s Birthday Custard Sponge, and adapted slightly

Cupcakes

120g all purpose flour – I used gluten free with no problems
120g caster sugar – original recipe states 140g. This gave me a slight mental freakout because that meant more sugar than flour. Diabetes hello
40g butter, softened
120ml milk
1 egg
1/2 teasp vanilla essence
1.5 teasp baking powder
A pinch of salt

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C

  1. The recipe says to beat the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter with an electric mixer until everything is combined and the mixture looks sandy.   I ended up with flour on the walls, so I admitted defeat and used my fingers to rub everything into the butter. You can probably do this in a food processor too.
  2. Pour in half the milk, and beat until just combined.
  3. Whisk the rest of the milk, egg, and vanilla essence in another bowl, then pour that into the flour mixture. Keep beating until smooth, but try not to overmix or it’ll be chewy.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown, and sponge bounces back when touched. Fill the cases only 1/2 to 2/3 full, it seems to rise quite a lot!

Custard Icing

125g icing sugar
75g butter – I used salted, softened
6 teasp Birds Custard Powder
1.5 teasp boiling water

  1. Zap the icing sugar and custard powder in the blender to get rid of lumps.
  2. Drop in the butter. Mix mix!
  3. Pour in the hot water – this helps make the custard flavour come out, so make sure it’s hot.
  4. Now turn up to high speed and keep whizzing until it gets fluffy. Mine took about 5 minutes. The longer you keep going the fluffier it gets.

Build it!

Cupcakes
Custard icing
Jam – I used blueberry but raspberry would probably be nice. I don’t think I’d like it with marmalade or strawberry, but you can always try

  1. Use a small sharp knife and dig out a little hole in the top of the cupcake. Keep the lid aside and don’t eat it.
  2. Using a teaspoon, drop some jam in the hole. Cover it back up with the cupcake-lid. Don’t lick the spoon you need to use it again.
  3. Ice the top of the cupcake with the custard icing. I used the Hummingbird method because it’s relatively easy and I like it, found here.
  4. In the little indentation left by the swirl, add a little more jam.
  5. Now you can eat.

How Not to Bake

Sometimes, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Other times only most of the things that can go wrong will, and you, to your surprise, end up with a rather presentable cupcake at the end of the day. Fortunately for team Bellea, this was one of the latter days. Of course, if it was one of the former, we might not tell you about it, because no one would want to read it. Except for me of course, because if I read about it on another blog then I’d know that all these so-called kitchen gods and goddesses scattered across the internet are mere mortals just like me.

This was a recipe that Bel had told me about quite a few times in the last week. It sounds amazing. It doesn’t disappoint. We think it’d be better with cream cheese peanut butter icing instead, but didn’t have enough $ in our wallets to cough up for a box of Philly today ($6 for a little pack! $6! Okay fine, we were just being cheap. But to scoff down the whole lot in one sitting…well I suppose we shouldn’t really be eating a whole block of Philly in one sitting anyway but that’s besides the point.)

So let’s look at the things that went wrong here, and then look at the final product and pretend that none of this ever happened:

  1. Batter on the wall
  2. Batter on the microwave
  3. Batter on the stove top
    … I think you’re getting the picture here. Lets just say I broke my high sided mixing bowl a few months ago*, and my hand whisk has a tempestuous relationship with my normal bowls.
  4. Ate too much batter with raw eggs (well.. I think this was worth it!)
  5. Put the oven on grill setting, realised 15 minutes later
  6. Ate too much icing (as above. You know my stance on these things now.)
  7. Bel had a peanut butter overdose and became comatose later in the evening
As you can see, this is quite a forgiving recipe.

There does need to be a disclaimer here. This is a very rich peanut buttery recipe, and only peanut butter heavyweights need attempt to eat a whole cupcake. Bel got sick the day afterwards with an unexplained illness, which may or may not have been due to mild peanut butter poisoning. You have been warned!

PB&J Cupcakes (aka Peanut butter and JAM. If I had said “jelly”, I suspect my inner ancestors might stage a revolt. Same with chips and fries. You know which one is correct! You can’t call them fries when you can cook them in the oven too!)

Halved, borrowed from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Makes 6 massive cupcakes – my cupcake tin’s quite large!

Cupcakes

185 grams all-purpose flour
45 grams unsalted butter, at room temp
1/2 cup peanut butter – we used Skippy Supercrunch
130 grams brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tablesp vanilla extract
1/2 tablesp baking powder
1/2 teasp salt

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C. Don’t use grill by accident, it causes uneven baking.

  1. Cream butter, sugar, and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium, until fluffy. Takes 3-5 minutes, or longer if you’re a masochist who decides to do this by hand
  2. Add eggs one by one, mixing between each. Then mix in the vanilla essence
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder
  4. Add dry to wet, alternating with milk. Try not to spray it all over your kitchen like we did 🙂
  5. Fill cupcake tin with liners, and fill these 2/3 full.
  6. Bake 15-18 minutes, test with a toothpick

Icing
1/2 cup peanut butter – again, we used Skippy Superchunk
1/2 cup  unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup icing sugar
1 tablesp milk
1/2 tablesp vanilla extract

  1. Mix peanut butter, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy
  2. Add sugar and milk, beat until combined
  3. Set aside, you may need to cool it a bit if it’s a bit runny

Build the beast!
Cupcakes
Icing
Raspberry jam + a teaspoon

  1. Carefully cut a small hemisphere out of the cupcake. The bigger the hole, the more jam you can put in!
  2. Spoon in the jam
  3. Smother with icing
  4. Repeat until you can’t take it anymore and *accidentally* cut one of them in half, thereby necessitating that you eat it, because you can’t exactly serve it to anyone after that, can you?

* I tried to bake with it because I thought it was pyrex, and I didn’t want to do extra dishes. Turns out it wasn’t. Sometimes I do these clever things.