The Battenbard

maple and pecan battenberg

Parting is such sweet sorrow, but alas, Bakespeare has come to an end. We are time’s subjects, and time bids be gone.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sad to see it go. These sudden joys have sudden ends. Bakespeare was my little project and (not to blow my own trumpet) I’ve been pretty pleased with the outcome. As a bit of a purveyor of puns, I’ve had a lot of fun (oops unintentional rhyme). I’ve really tried to improve my photography skills and on the whole, I’d say I’d achieved my goal. We are such stuff as dreams are made on. The recipes were different, varied, and successful, and I’m eager to try every single one of them again.

There were a few failures: Pericheese, Prince of Rye, was a cheese loaf that could be likened to an anvil. Much Ado About Pudding never made it further than the recipe book. King Lear Cake didn’t even make it to the ideas stage. But on the whole, I reckon it’s been a success. If not success, a bit of fun, at least. It’s been really darn hectic, though, and I never thought getting eight recipes in one month onto my blog would be hard, but there you go. (Having a 6,000 word essay to write and two full weeks of 8-5 at uni at the end of April probably hasn’t helped).

Let’s look at what did make it onto the blog. We started out with A Midsummer Ice Cream, a really easy and really nice ice cream recipe, which didn’t need any fancy ice cream making equipment. (It’s also a great recipe to impress Nans:

‘I made this ice-cream, Nan.’

‘You never did.’

Thanks, Nan. Believing in me since 1994.)

Next, we had the nicest caramel cake I’ve ever tasted (fact) with The Taming of The Shrewsel, and I don’t know about you, but I’m lining this up for a remake in May. Hamlette was next, a really easy hack recipe for a Spanish omelette (and Hamlet is officially my favourite Shakespeare play so there’s that fact. Do with it as you will).

Fourth, I put the puns aside and made Portia’s coals from Julius Caesar; a play on a periphery character’s choice of death and a bit of a stretch imagination-wise but Caesar salad seemed way too obvious, and the truffles were really nice (and fun to make!). After that came Romeo and Chouxliet, a pun that I was far too pleased with myself about, and a recipe that I think was definitely my most impressive this month. That praline and the crème patisserie was so good together.

The Clown’s Rice Pudding from The Winter’s Tale came next- and the only Bakespeare recipe I never actually ate! (Another fun fact- I don’t like dried fruit so I had to feed it to a willing volunteer and take their word for it that it was nice). Then came the second savoury recipe, Brothello, which was actually a soup rather than a broth, but either way it’s a recipe you need to try because it’s SO EASY. Soup is my favourite. Why don’t people love soup more?! And to round Bakespeare off, I finally conquered my fears with Macaronbeth– a macaron recipe that was, amazingly, quite successful. I’ve never been great at macarons but these went well.

maple and pecan battenberg

So last recipe of all, that ends this strange eventful series, is one for the playwright himself: The Battenbard. (Or Bardenberg, whichever takes your fancy.) A classic British cake for the most British of writers. This is a maple and pecan Battenberg, just to switch things up. These are two ingredients that are so often put together and they complement each other so well that this was a natural pairing.  The maple flavour of the orange sponge is really quite pleasant and a nice contrast to the nutty pecan flavour of the brown sponge. Decorate it with leftover marzipan delicately made into marzipan plaits, which are actually so much easier than you’d think. (Always a winner in my book.)

maple and pecan battenberg

A top tip for all Battenberg making, and not just this maple and pecan Battenberg- spread a generous layer of buttercream all over the cake, and between the joins, and roll the marzipan thickly so it doesn’t tear easily when you’re putting it round the cake. Roll out into the marzipan into a rectangle, use the assembled cake to measure roughly, then cover all the edges of the cake with buttercream. The last stage, finally commit to wrapping the marzipan around the Battenberg.

All’s well that ends well. Goodbye, Will-The-Bard Crumble. I’ll miss you.

* * *

MAKES 1 Battenberg

PREP 15 mins for cake, 25 mins for icing

COOK 35 mins

▪ Will keep for 3 days in airtight container (maybe. Mine wasn’t around for more than a day)

 

FOR THE CAKE

100g softened butter

100g golden caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten

75g self-raising flour

½ tsp baking powder

75g ground almonds

15g pecan nuts, finely chopped

25ml maple syrup

Few drops orange food colouring

 

FOR THE ICING

50g softened butter

100g icing sugar

 

450g marzipan

Icing sugar, to dust.

 

1 First line a 20cm square cake tin with greaseproof paper. To do this, cut a piece of paper about 8cm wider than the tin, fold the paper in  half, then fold back the paper each side to leave a 4cm pleat sticking up. Use this to line the tin with the pleat splitting the tin in two lengthways. Next, pre-heat the oven to 170°c/325°f/gas mark 3.

2 To make the sponge, add the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, and ground almonds to a large bowl and beat together using an electric hand whisk until all combined. Spoon half of the mixture into a second bowl (you can weigh it to get a more accurate split).

3 Add the pecan nuts to one half of the mixture and stir well. To the other half, add the maple syrup and orange food colouring and stir in. Spoon the nut mixture into one half of the tin and spoon the maple mixture into the other. Level off with a spatula.

4 Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 35 minutes or until the cake is golden in colour and springs back with pressed lightly. Cool slightly in the tin, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

5 Whilst the cake is cooling, make the buttercream by beating together the butter and sugar. Add the icing sugar in small amounts to avoid the ill-fated icing sugar explosion. If it looks a little stiff, add a drop of milk.

6 Cut the cakes in half so that you end up with four even slices of cake. Trim up the sides to make them straight, and if you need to, trim them so they are about even squares rather than flat rectangles (it will make the cake looker much neater). Spread buttercream across the side of one orange slice, then sandwich a brown slice next to it. Cover the top of both pieces with more buttercream, and add an orange slice of cake on top of the brown slice. Spread buttercream along the side of this then add the final piece.

7 Dust a surface with icing sugar then roll out the marzipan to about the thickness of a one pound coin. Keep it in a rectangle shape, and use the Battenberg to check the length and width of the marzipan required. Cover all the sides of the cake with buttercream then carefully lift onto the marzipan. Fold the marzipan round the cake, with the join on the bottom. Trim off overhanging marzipan edges and decorate with leftover marzipan. ▪

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