Sometimes I bake without using food colouring. This, however, was not one of those times. Lionel supports Harlequins rugby team so for his birthday I decided to make him a Harlequins themed Battenberg style cake. Fortunately, the Quins have a checkerboard with their colours in. Unfortunately these colours include brown and grey. Mmmm, grey cake.
I got hold of my tried and tested Battenberg recipe (adapted from BBC Good Food), along with some pink, blue and black (for the grey) food colouring, and some cocoa for the brown section. (If one needs to eat brown cake then it should at least be chocolate flavoured).
I made double quantities of the original recipe, so these are the measurements I used:
350g Stork (or equivalent)
350g golden caster sugar
6 medium eggs
100g ground almonds
280g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp almond extract
200g apricot jam
2 x 500g pack white marzipan
To make the batter, simply mix all the ingredients (except the jam, marzipan and food colouring) together in a bowl and then blend until smooth. Then divide the batter into 4 equal batches and use food colouring/ cocoa to get the colours you want for your checkerboard.
Pour each batch of batter into a lined loaf tin and then cook at 180 degrees C (160 fan) for about 25 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean). (Thankfully I have two loaf tins the same size so could have 2 in the oven at once. Alternatively you could use a square baking tin and make a division down the middle with foil). Each loaf tin is only half full, so the result is four different coloured ‘loaves’ of cake, about an inch high.
Allow these to cool and then cut in half lengthways and trim so that the top and sides are flat (and so that you can check the cake tastes okay by eating the bits you’ve cut off.) You will now have eight rectangular sponges, 2 of each colour. At this stage I cling filmed and froze one of each colour (make sure you wrap them individually, otherwise the sponges and colours might stick to each other) and then a couple of months later defrosted them and made a second Quins cake (which tasted just as good).
Now to assemble the cake. Take one 500g pack of the marzipan and roll out a quarter of it, so that it is a little bit bigger than two of the cake pieces places next to each other (About 20 x 10cm). Put 100g of apricot jam in the microwave, or heat on the hob, and then seive it. Paste some of the warm apricot jam over the top side of the marzipan and then carefully place on your bottom two slices of coloured cake (be sure to get the right colours if you’re following a particular pattern like I was). Put apricot jam between them too, to stick them together. Then roll out the rest of the marzipan so it’s about 20 x 25cm in size. Put apricot jam on the top and sides of the cake and then put the other two colours on top. Cover them in jam too (and in between them) and then carefully place the rolled out marzipan over the whole thing. Hopefully you will have enough marzipan to cover over the ends of the cake, which means that when it is cut open the colours will be a great surprise.
The result is a tasty cake (the sponge is lovely and moist, with a nice almond flavour) which is also visually appealing (even if one of the colours is grey!). It also lasts for several days (in theory – although I doubt you’ll be able to keep hungry mouths away from it for that long!)