Bakers Challenge: July 2013
Battenberg cake by Battinburg Cakes
We completed and posted our first cake challenge with Daring Bakers. The challenge was this: Pick anything from any prior challenge. Kewl! We reviewed several years’ worth of challenges and finally landed on the June 2012 Challenge: Going Batty for Battenberg Cake. Battenberg cakes are a British cake created by Queen Victoria for her granddaughter’s royal wedding. We thought it would be funny, being our first challenge, to make a Yank Battinburg Cake in celebration of our Independence Day…sort of like an “in your face oh former oppressor!” But then, even as we were putting the final touches on our creation, what to our wondering eyes should appear, but a little British kinglet, so small and dear. Our hearts went, “ahhhhh”. And amidst the ooohs and ahhhhs as we faithfully waited by the television to catch our first glimpse of the Baby Cambridge, we decided to dedicate our cake to him as his birth day present from us, two not-so-common Americans. Here is our July 2013 Baker’s Challenge Result.
In the interior cakes, you will see our tribute to the Union Jack, which is composed by baking two different 8×8 square sponge cakes; one red and one blue, then cutting them to the desired size and shape. The red cake is actually a dyed-red cardamom spice with natural orange flavoring. The blue cake is a blueberry-infused crème bouquet folded into a white sponge. The cakes were trimmed and held together with a coconut infused stiffened buttercream. We chose to wrap the Union Jack with an American Flag made with cut and pieced marshmallow fondant (a typical Battenberg uses marzipan, but, you know, yuk; so we opted for yummy, thinly-rolled fondant). We dyed the pure white fondant red and blue for the stripes and star background, and used a small star cookie cutter to slice through both white and blue simultaneously so they would match exactly. To make the stripes on the flag, we chose a strip piecing method we use when making quilts and it worked like a charm to get everything the right size and in the right places.
We cut out and placed the blue & star fondant. Then we measured and cut (using a clear plastic quilting ruler and pizza wheel) the fondant to size, and and placed the cake directly onto the fondant exactly where we wanted the blue & star to appear.
Usually when using fondant, we use a generous amount of buttercream on the cake to enable us to move the fondant. With this cake, however, we found that a “barely there” method worked much better because any more than just a scant coating of buttercream caused waves in the stripes. We wanted our flag completely flat as if it was draped over the baby carriage. We used just enough buttercream to enable the fondant to stick (as you will see in the next shot…barely there). We then rolled the cake around the fondant. (You are looking at the bottom of the cake, onto which we measured, cut, and placed a solid piece of fondant to “seal” all of the stripes together.)
We pushed the cake onto each side and pushed the cut ends underneath the stripes to ensure a solid line on each corner.
Getting the cake cut and molded and the fondant onto this cake, including cutting, piecing, and final touches, took almost 4 hours…and we had planned ahead how we were going to do it and did a “test run” to work out the bugs. But this was a Baker’s Challenge and we wanted to challenge all of our skills; baking, assembling and decorating, which we most certainly did.
Making a themed Battenberg cake like this is not for the faint hearted. It took a lot of thoughtful engineering to get the cakes cut on the correct bias and the flag stripes straight. I guess a math nerd would have been handy to have around for this one! In all, we had a BLAST making this Battenberg cake for Battinburg Cakes first Daring Kitchen Baker’s Challenge. We are looking forward to next month’s challenge, so stay tuned…we learn what it is on the first of next month!
Ciao for now,
V & K