After the discovery of decent food gels and the success of the Harlequins Battenberg two years ago, I decided to attempt a rubix cube themed Battenberg cake for Lionel’s birthday this year. The result of several hours’ work was a definite crowd pleaser – both visually (once it was cut in to!) and on the taste buds. Here’s the journey I went on, step by step so that you can travel it too.
It’s not too hard, just a bit time consuming and fiddly. I probably spent about 5 hours on it, over 2 afternoons – but this could be cut down if you had more loaf tins than I do! I would recommend making the cake in 2 sessions, and freezing the sponges in between, as they are a lot easier to trim down when frozen, I discovered.
This recipe makes 2 Battenberg style sponges, each containing 9 ‘segments’.
525g Stork (or equivalent)
525g golden caster sugar
9 medium eggs
150g ground almonds
420g self raising flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp almond extract
Food gels (blue, green, red, yellow, orange)
300g apricot jam
2.5 x 500g pack white marzipan
Stage 1: Making the sponges
To make the batter, simply mix all the ingredients (except the jam, marzipan and food gels) together in a bowl and then blend until smooth. Then divide the batter into 6 equal batches and use food gels to get the colours you want. As one of the colours in the rubix cube is white, I just left this one without any gel in, although I see that you can buy white food gels, which I would be interested to try.
(Alternatively, to save on space and washing up: weigh the bowl before putting any ingredients in it, then weigh it once the batter is complete. Subtract the weight of the bowl to get the total weight of the batter, and divide this by 6. This way you can weigh out each section one at a time.)
(See, kids, maths IS useful in life!)
How you cook the sponges depends on what you have by way of tins. You are aiming for 6 ‘loaves’. I used 2 loaf tin liners in a square baking tin and so baked 2 sponges at a time. Alternatively you could use loaf tins. You want each sponge loaf to be as similar in size to the others as possible.
Cook at 180 degrees C (160 fan) for about 30 – 35 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool and if you are going to freeze them (recommended) then wrap each one individually in cling film and then pop in the freezer.
(As an aside, at this point Lionel discovered I was making him a birthday cake and requested that it didn’t have any colour in…I told him it was a bit late.)
Stage 2: Assembling the cake
Now comes the more fiddly bit! Remove your first sponge from the freezer and trim it down so that its edges and top are as smooth as possible. Then cut it into 3 pieces length ways. Again, you want these to be as equal in size as possible – I used a ruler!
Repeat this for each sponge so that eventually you have a total of 18 thin sponges (3 lots of 6 different colours).
Prepare a surface to roll out the marzipan by cleaning it and then sprinkling icing sugar. (The marzipan was actually the bit I struggled with the most – I forgot to sprinkle the icing sugar and so it kept getting stuck/ripping. I might even consider ready rolled marzipan next time.) You want about 1/4 of one block of the marzipan. Roll it out until it is approximately 20cm x 10cm. At this point it is worth placing the rolled out marzipan on whatever you are going to present the cake on. Put about 150g of apricot jam in a bowl in the microwave for about 1 min 30 seconds.
Paste some of the warm apricot jam over the top side of the marzipan and then carefully place on your bottom three slices of coloured cake. (The order of the colours is up to you – but remember there will be 9 pieces in total in each cake, and only 6 colours and you might not want 2 of the same colours next to each other, simply for ascetic reasons.) You may need to trim the sponges a little more – it is particularly important that they are the same height as further sponges will be stacked on them. Put apricot jam between them too, to stick them together.
Carefully spread apricot jam on top of these sponges and then lay on your next 3, again putting more jam in between them. Repeat this process for your top layer.
Open up another pack of marzipan and roll the whole thing out (remember the icing sugar!) – this time aiming for about 20cm x 40cm. Carefully paste more jam (you may have to melt more as you go along if you run out) all over the outside of the cake, then wrap the marzipan around it. I like to cover the ends too so that nobody knows what’s inside until the first slice is cut.
Repeat the whole process for the second cake if you are making it now.
The sponge keeps well and can even be served a few days later.