It was this coffee and walnut battenberg that prompted my grandmother to say "I think you're in the wrong career":
I'm not sure I can lay claim to being a professional-standard baker just yet, but it did get me thinking. I love baking. I love sharing my baking (both the food itself, and pictures and recipes). And I have a lot of friends on Facebook who love commenting on my baking.
So - time to get a blog and do this properly.
My aim: to share my baking experiences, favourite recipes and even the disasters (of which there hopefully won't be too many) with the world at large. And, to create my own recipes, trial them and tell the world about them. I'm full of ideas - and now I have an outlet for them! Now, all I need is willing eaters to sample the various concoctions which could come out of this...
So, anyway - back to the cake in hand: Mary Berry's Coffee and Walnut Battenberg. Unlike many, I haven't been glued to this year's Great British Bake-off - not least because I didn't actually know it existed until last week. However, having watched one of Mary and Paul's masterclasses, I am now a fan, and couldn't help but give one of the recipes a go myself.
The full recipe can be found at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/coffee_and_walnut_88342
Essentially, it's a standard 2-egg sponge, with some added ground almonds (to help with the keeping), a little baking powder (it's an all-in-one - so this helps it to rise), then divided into two, cut up, stuck back together again and rolled in marzipan. Easy.
The tricky bits:
- Creating the divide for your tin! I actually didn't have a 7 or 8 inch cake tin to hand, as is suggested in the recipe, so used a 6 inch Christmas cake tin instead. I found that this size actually created slightly more square pieces than in the version seen on TV - although did come with the added challenge of having rounded corners to be trimmed. Not that any of my family members minded eating the leftovers. I used baking paper, with a little tin foil inside the actual dividing barrier, for stiffness. And make sure that the baking paper flaps well over the edges of the tin, to avoid it curling inwards during cooking.
- Leaving the cake to cool for long enough so that it cuts evenly (use a bread knife). It's far too tempting to cut it up as soon as it comes out of the oven! I left mine for just under 10 minutes, and that worked fine.
- Sticking the pieces together - it may sound obvious, but make sure you stick the flat sides together to obtain an even chequerboard throughout.
- Rolling your marzipan to the right size. I actually failed to measure the size of my cake correctly, and ended up with some leftovers. However, the bonus to this was that the marzipan ended up nice and thin, which is no bad thing - this is quite a sweet recipe, and I think having the marzipan too thick would make it almost sickly.
- Making sure you have enough icing sugar. I did not. However, butter icing is easy enough to make with caster sugar, as long as you beat it vigorously enough. And to roll out the marzipan, 'flour' your surface with caster sugar, then give it a bit of a bashing with the rolling pin to make it a little finer before you start. Or I'm told you can put caster in a food processor to make it into the consistency of icing sugar - although I couldn't be bothered!
- Don't get your fingernails stuck when crimping at the end. Note to self: cut fingernails before baking - no one wants little lines in their battenberg!
Overall, I was very pleased with the results - and the cake got eaten up in one sitting, so it can't have tasted bad either!