The new season of The Great British Bake-Off has begun and I have decided to bake along with it this year. For every episode, I will choose one or two of the three challenges and try to do my version of what I would make if I were a contestant. The first episode was cake week. My favourite!
In this episode, the contestants had to make their own version of the British Battenberg Cake for the signature bake, a pineapple upside-down cake for the technical bake, and a cake bust of their hero for the showstopper bake. Pineapple upside-down cake didn’t appeal to me to make this week and my artistic skills are nowhere near ready to try to make a bust out of cake, so I decided to try the Battenberg Cake.
The traditional Battenberg cake is an almond-flavoured sponge that is baked in two different colours cut into 4 equal-sized square logs and then mortared together with apricot jam. The whole cake is then wrapped in a layer of marzipan and the short ends are trimmed to reveal a checkerboard pattern. To make this cake their own, contestants came up with their own flavour and colour combinations for this cake. Some did flavours like rhubarb and custard or an Indian inspired cake and one contestant did cream soda and bubblegum!
I was thinking about what flavours to do just as my husband was spreading some Nutella on toast and was inspired to do a hazelnut-chocolate flavoured cake. I didn’t find any with these flavours in my online search, but I did find a chocolate-almond Battenberg from Home Cooking Adventure so I based my cake on that recipe.
I swapped ground hazelnuts for the ground almonds, and some hazelnut bakery emulsion, that I happened to have from a previous bake for the almond extract (I found this at my local bulk food store). Instead of using apricot jam to mortar the cake together, I used Nutella. I took it one step further and used ground hazelnuts and the hazelnut extract in the marzipan instead of almonds as well!
One of the contestants used marmalade in their marzipan and the judges liked the bitter notes that it gave the marzipan. I was worried about the cake being overall too sweet, so I used that instead of the apricot jam in the recipe as well. I found it too bitter and it took away from the other flavours, so I have put apricot jam in my recipe instead of the marmalade.
Overall it worked out really well. It’s a small tea cake so it wasn’t too heavy to eat. I did cut my squares evenly and thought I had lined them up well, but they must have shifted when I put the marzipan on, so they don’t look even in the picture.
There were too detractions to this cake: First, it’s quite a bit of work for such a small cake, with trying to cut the cakes evenly and tightly wrapping it with the marzipan. Second, the hazelnut cake was a bit dry. All the recipes I looked at said to bake for 30-35 minutes. I questioned this when I read the recipes because it’s a small cake, but baked the cake for 30 minutes. I think I could have either baked it for a shorter time or added more milk to the hazelnut batter as I did to the chocolate batter to make it moister. I didn’t want to bake this one again this week, so I have reduced the cooking time in the recipe.
Chocolate Hazelnut Battenberg CakeThis version of the Battenberg Cake features squares of hazelnut and chocolate sponge cake mortared together with a hazelnut-chocolate spread. This recipe is based on the Chocolate-Almond Battenberg Cake from Home Cooking Adventure. It requires ground hazelnuts (I used Bob’s Red Mill) and Hazelnut Bakery Emulsion (hazelnut extract), which I got from my local bulk food store.
- For the Hazelnut Batter
- For the Chocolate Batter
- For assembly
- For the Marzipan
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Grease and line an 8 inch (20cm) square pan with parchment paper, dividing the pan in half using an aluminum foil wall.
- In a medium bowl combine flour with the ground hazelnuts, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl mix butter with sugar until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, and mix to incorporate.
- Add half of the flour mixture, then the milk, then the rest of the flour mixture, incorporating between each addition.
- Divide batter in half between two bowls.
- Mix the hazelnut extract into one of the batters.
- For the other batter mix cocoa powder, milk and sugar in a small bowl and incorporate in the other half of the batter.
- Pour each batter into one half of the prepared pan. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then cool completely on a cooling rack.
- When cakes are completely cooled trim the tops to flatten. Then place one on top of the other and trim to equal size. Cut each in half lengthways. Place a strip of hazelnut cake on a working surface, spread chocolate-hazelnut spread over the top and sides, and place an chocolate cake next to it. Repeat with the other strips of cake on top. Make sure to brush spread the chocolate-hazelnut spread between each of the seems.
- Prepare the marzipan: Place the ground hazelnuts, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder into the bowl of a food processor. Grind to combine. Add apricot jam and hazelnut extract and continue grinding until it comes together. Pour out onto the counter and knead a bit with your hands to come together.
- Use a rolling pin to roll the marzipan between two sheets of parchment paper, into a thin layer. Then cut it into an 8 x 12 inch (20x30cm) rectangle.
- Tightly wrap the cake in the marzipan. Trim the ends of the cake so that each end is a neat square and refrigerate until ready to serve.
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