Some baking classics shouldn’t be meddled with – but what about merging two together? This coffee and walnut battenberg cake combines two timeless bakes: a chequerboard of complimentary vanilla and coffee-walnut sponges, sandwiched with coffee buttercream and wrapped in marzipan for a classic battenberg finish. If you’re looking for a less traditional battenberg, try my lemon and pistachio version. Made for a special birthday, I’d argue this cake is even greater than the sum of its parts – though you’d expect no less from Mary Berry – and worth the wee bit of extra effort in assembly. To make the cake, you will need:
100g caster sugar
2 free-range eggs
100g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
few drops vanilla extract
3 tsp milk
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
25g shelled walnuts, chopped.
For the coffee butter icing:
100g icing sugar
40g butter, softened
1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
1 1/2 tsp milk.
To decorate the cake:
225g white marzipan
5 small walnut pieces.
For the cake, preheat the oven to 170C/ 150C Fan/ 325F/ Gas 3. Grease the bottom and sides of a 20cm square, shallow cake tin. Cut out a piece of greaseproof paper that is 7.5cm longer than the length of the tin. Fold the paper in half widthways, then open out the paper and push up the centre fold to make a 4cm pleat. Line the base of the tin with this, placing it to ensure the pleat runs down the centre of the tin making, in effect, two rectangular tins.
Beat the margarine, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and ground almonds in a large bowl for 2-3 minutes, until smooth, lighter in colour and glossy looking.
Spoon slightly more than half the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the vanilla extract and 1½ teaspoons of the milk. Set aside. Mix the coffee in the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of milk, stirring until it has dissolved, then stir this into the other bowl of mixture along with the chopped walnuts.
Spoon the vanilla mixture into one half of the tin and the coffee-walnut mixture into the other half. Level the surface with a knife, check the paper divider is still in the middle.
Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is well risen, springy to the touch and has shrunk slightly from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then loosen the cake from the sides with a rounded knife, turn it out, peel off the parchment liner and finish cooling on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, make the butter icing: sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl and add the butter. Mix the coffee and milk together until the coffee has dissolved, and pour into the bowl. Beat everything together with a wooden spoon until soft and smooth.
Trim the crispy edges from the cooled cake, then cut and trim if necessary into 4 equal strips. Lay one vanilla and one coffee-walnut strip next to each other, using a little butter icing to stick them together and spreading a bit more on the top. Stick the remaining strips together with icing and place them on top to create a chequerboard effect. Spread a little more icing over the top of the assembled cake and place, iced-side down on the rolled out marzipan. (Roll out on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar – it should be the length of the cake and wide enough to wrap around the cake – you could measure this with string).
Reserve a teaspoon of the icing and spread the rest over the remaining three sides of the cake (not the ends). Brush off any crumbs from the marzipan, then roll the cake over in the marzipan, pressing to neatly cover it. Brush the join lightly with water, pressing it to seal. Turn the cake over so that the join is underneath.
Trim a slim slice from each end of the cake to neaten and show off the chequerboard effect. Smooth the marzipan over with your hands. You can do fancy things with crimping and scoring, but I just decorated the cake by laying the walnut pieces down the centre, securing them with the reserved butter icing.
What are you baking this weekend?
Coffee and walnut battenberg via Mary Berry.