Monday, July 2, 2012

Earl Grey and Chocolate Battenburg with Grape Jelly (and Ice Cream Battenburg!)

chocolate earl grey battenburg
Eaten with coffee, not tea.

In honour of the Queen's diamond jubilee, June's Daring Baker's challenge was battenburg cakes. I was excited for this one, and my flavours started out with a taste of a gorgeous artisan concord grape jelly at the farmer's market. Our market recently moved into a new building, big and open and airy. I think it was a good move as the building is more green, more accessible, and can house more vendors, but I miss the twisting halls of the historic market in the brewery and so I tend to stop back in there to look at the handful of vendors who staunchly stayed behind, along with those who are moving into the vacuum. That's where I tasted the concord grape jelly, and after pairing it with chocolate (you always need chocolate) and earl grey (which seemed appropriately British) in my head, I went back and picked up a little jar. The whole cake got covered in chocolate plastique because, of course, almond-based marzipan is poison in my house. 

The chocolate plastique was probably the hardest part, just because it took some serious woman-handling before it was pliable enough to roll out with my sad little rolling pin. I made both cake recipes in loaf tins because I'd forgotten that I'd recently purchased an 8 x 8 square tin. After some liberal sawing (I little too liberal for one piece), the cake rectangles were covered in jelly and stacked very delicately before being wrapped in the chocolate plastique. My biggest regret was that I didn't have three times as much jelly. The little jars were only about a quarter cup.

The earl grey cake was much stronger than I'd expected. I'm not actually a tea fan, but the smell of earl grey gives me pleasant nostalgic feelings because my mum drank it a lot while I was growing up. I like the flavour, but in milder doses. I think a tea-lover would really like this cake, but if I ever make it again I'll lower the quantity of tea leaves. It did pair very nicely with the grape jelly.
battenburg recipe
Things taste better when they are pretty.

Earl Grey Cake Recipe
barely adapted from here

You'll need:

125 mL (1/2 cup) milk
3 Earl Grey tea bags
180 g (1 1/2 cups) cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
112 g (1/2 cup, 1 stick, 1/4 pound) butter
225 g (1 cup) sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 F, grease and flour your loaf tin. Heat the milk and steep one tea bag in it. Open the other two tea bags and chop the leaves as finely as possible. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cream together the butter and sugar, followed by the eggs, the vanilla, and then the tea leaves. Alternate additions of the flour mixture and the tea-infused milk. Scrape the batter into your loaf pan and bake until a toothpick poked into the centre comes out clean, 30-40 minutes. 

chocolate grape battenburg

Chocolate Cake Recipe
adapted from here
The original recipe for this cake was odd because it asked you to cream together the butter and sugar, and then pour in boiling water. Why go to all that trouble to beat air into the butter if you're just going to melt the bubbles out of it with boiling water? So. . . I simplified it. It seemed to work; the resulting cake was absurdly easy and pretty tasty.

You'll need:
(1 cup) AP flour
(1 cup) sugar
(1/3 cup) cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
(1/2 cup, 1 stick) butter
(1 cup) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 300 F and grease and flour (or better, cocoa) your loaf tin. Whisk together the flour and baking soda. Stick the butter, sugar, cocoa, and milk in a bowl. Stick that boil in the microwave until the butter is melted. Let cool to room temperature, then whisk in the egg and the vanilla. Fold in the flour mixture until just combined, then scrap it into your loaf tin and bake until a toothpick poked in the centre comes out with just a few crumbs. I seem to remember this taking quite a while, ~55 minutes.

The chocolate plastique is very easy--just gently melt 7 oz of chocolate and then mix in 2 oz (1/4 cup) light corn syrup. Press it all into a sort-of-ball, wrap in plastic, and leave it overnight on the counter (or in the refrigerator for a few hours). Knead the hell out of it and trust that eventually it will stop being hard a crumbly and start being more clay-like.

You can see where I was overzealous in slicing the earl grey cake.
After making my very first battenburg, I was left a little bit unsatisfied. As I've said many times before, I love baking cake I don't really love eating it. I couldn't stop thinking about an ice cream cake version of the battenburg. I was also sad because I really did want to try working with marzipan. So, after a week or so of wrestling with the idea, I put together this chocolate-lemon ice cream battenburg wrapped in a marzipan that I made out of cashew nuts. The chocolate and lemon ice cream recipes are both from David Lebovits' Perfect Scoop, and so naturally are brilliant despite being a bit icy because of my lack of ice cream machine and my laziness application of the by-hand method. (J thought the lemon was going to be vanilla when I gave him a taste, and was a bit scared off by the surprise, but he eventually conceded that it paired really well with the chocolate.) The cashew marzipan turned out. . . okay. The increased oiliness of the cashews impelled me to add a lot more icing sugar and so I think the end product was a bit too sweet. I froze the ice creams into that 8 x 8 tin I'd forgotten about, and then cut them and stacked them. As you might imagine, working with the rapidly melting ice cream was a bit of a pain in the ass and I don't foresee ever doing this again--I'm glad that I tried it out though. If I hadn't, my imagination would have been left frustrated.

dark chocolate lemon ice cream recipe

The Perfect Scoop is worth getting, and is the only ice cream book you'll ever need. I imagine if you picked any two ice creams from the book, at random, you'd hit on a great combination for an ice cream battenburg.

I also have a recipe for maple bacon bourbon ice cream tucked away which I've always thought would be funny to make, but I wasn't quite sure what to pair it with. 

cashew marzipan almond-free

I used this marzipan recipe, but substituted ground cashews and then kept adding icing sugar until it was more dough-like (it was still just barely sticky). I whisked it by hand with the help of J, though in retrospect I should have just dug out my trusty old hand mixer. I probably used at least 3 extra ounces of icing sugar. If I were to do it again, I'd look for a less oily nut (maybe hazlenut? I don't know) or I'd reduce the egg yolks to try to keep the sugar down.

ice cream battenburg
I will make this dark chocolate ice cream forever.

"Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease."

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