One thing that I just love about food here in the UK is that not only are there delicious offerings which are on the cutting edge of all that is new in the culinary world . . . but there are also some gloriously delicious traditional dishes which set us apart from other countries and make us unique.
I especially love the sweet aspect of this, in the way of cakes and other teatime treats! There is no end to the traditional and regional cakes and goodies amongst these fertile green and septred isles!
One of my favourites has to be the Church Window Cake or Battenburg as it is commonly known. If you love almond, then this is the cake for you. A firm favourite on the traditional English tea table, this is a very pretty two coloured sponge cake, put together like a pink and white checker board.
Each layer is sandwiched with some butter cream and seedless raspberry jam to help hold them together, and then the whole thing is brushed with a little more jam on the outsides and then rolled up in a thin layer of marzipan.
When cut into slices it is beautiful and I think quite amazing looking. Very impressive and not all that difficult. It does require a little patience, but it's well worth any effort taken. It may take a bit of practice to get the marzipan as tight as you would like it, but do persevere as it is most beautiful when done . . .
I have made a Hazelnut and Mocha version a few years ago that you can check out here, which was really delicious as well. I've gotten a lot better at rolling them with practice, but do take a gander at my first attempts.
If you are looking for a mighty fine cake to serve at your teatime table, then this is the one to choose. Pretty and delicious. What more could you want??? Nom! Nom!
*Church Window Cake or Battenburg*
Makes 6 sevings
This is a traditional cake that has appearing in British cookery books for over two centuries. The finished cake resembles somewhat a church stained glass window. This is a real treat for almond lovers and not as hard to make as it would seem!
175g butter, softened (3/4 cup)
175g caster sugar (14 1/4 TBS)
3 large free range eggs, beaten
175g self raising flour (1 1/2 cups)
a little red food colouring
For the topping:
275g of natural almond pastem (marzipan) (about 2/3 lb.)
a little warmed raspberry jam
some vanilla buttercream icing
granulated sugar to dust
Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ gas mark 3. One 7 inch square cake tin, buttered and lined with parchment paper.
Cream the butter together with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lightly beaten eggs and the flour, a little at a time, beating until smooth. Divide the cake batter in half. Tint one half with a bit of red food colouring to give you a pink batter. Spoon the pink batter into the left hand side of the tin, and the normal colour into the other side. Smooth the tops gently.
Bake in the oven for about 30 to 35 minutes or until firm when lightly pressed in the centre.
Carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before proceeding.
When the cake is completely cool, trim the edges of the cake and then divide it equally into 4 long sections, 2 pink and 2 white. Using a little of the butter cream and some of the warmed raspberry jam, place one of each colour on the bottom and the remaining two on top. alternating the colours to give you a chequer board pattern and having some butter cream and jam between each. You will not need much, only just enough to make them adhere to the other.
Dust the counter top with some granulated sugar and then roll out the marzipan on top, thinly into an oblong the length of the cake and large enough to cover the cake all around. Spread with a thin layer of jam and then place the sponge checkerboard on top. Roll the marzipan around the cake and seal with a bit more jam. Trim the edges neatly at each end. Place onto a plate with the "seam" underneath and lightly mark the top in the traditional criss cross pattern.