Mini Lemon & Poppyseed Battenberg Cakes

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Last March, when Jay went back to England to visit his family he brought back mini Battenberg cakes for me. Once I tried them I was hooked. There were about 5 seconds between the first bite and the last bite. They’re considered to be perfect for afternoon tea, and you won’t catch me saying otherwise. They are. But really, when is tea and cake not a good idea? After eyeing the poppy seeds in my cupboard all week, I decided it was time that me and the ol’ Battenburg meet again.

These guys take some time and precision, which makes it a bit of a slow project. Mine didn’t turn out looking like a perfect 10, but more like a solid 8, which is good enough for me, thank you very much.

After reading a few different methods about how to cook the cakes, I settled on one that involved making a makeshift divider out of parchment paper. It was the option that required less cleaning and it worked out great. I also made my own almond paste that gets wrapped around the outside because I’d never done it before, but you could certainly do it with store-bought almond paste. Traditionally they’re held together with jam or custard, but I just fancied a little buttercream instead.

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ALMOND PASTE:

1 1/2 c. almond flour

1 1/2 c. icing sugar

1/2 t. almond extract

1 t. lemon extract

1 egg white

natural yellow food coloring (to liking)

1 T. lemon juice (you may not need all of it)

  1. For homemade almond paste: In a food processor combine the flour and sugar until no lumps remain. Then add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the lemon juice. Pour that slowly in until the dough forms a clump. Dump the ball out onto the counter into some icing sugar and knead it a bit. Once it’s smooth and uniform, wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for later.
  2. For ready made almond paste: If you are using ready made almond paste chop it up and put it into the food processor. Add coloring and 1 t. lemon extract until it comes together again. If you have almond flour on hand, you can experiment with adding lemon juice for more flavor and add almond flour if the mixture becomes too wet. You can also just use almond paste with no color or added flavoring. Up to you!

BUTTERCREAM:

1/4 c. soft butter

1 c. icing sugar

1 T. lemon curd

1 T. whole cream (you amy need more)

  1. I tend to just eye this so, these are just loose instructions: With the whisk attachment cream the butter and sugars. Add the curd and half the cream. If it is too dry, beat in the rest until you achieve a smooth thick frosting. If it is too wet, add more sugar.

CAKE:

6 oz. soft butter

6 oz. white sugar

3 eggs

6 oz. self raising flour

1/2 t. lemon extract

1/8 t. salt

Lemon curd for icing

Bowl 1:

1 t. lemon juice

1 t. lemon zest

natural yellow food coloring

Bowl 2:

2-3 T. poppy seeds (this depends on how visible you want your seeds to be.)

1 t. lemon extract

375º F / 190º C

  1. In an 8 x 8″ tin, cut a piece of parchment paper that hangs over the sides a bit. Make a fold in the middle of the paper and position it in exactly the center of the tin so that you can pour equal amounts of batter on each side without them interfering. Grease the paper.
  2. In a mixer, combine the sugar and butter and then add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. On a scale, divide the batter into two equal portions.
  4. Bowl 1: mix in juice, color and zest
  5. Bowl 2: mix in poppy seeds and extract
  6. Spread each mix evenly on it’s designated side of the pan and bake 15-20 minutes until it springs back to the touch or produces a clean knife. Let cool completely.

ASSEMBLY:

  1. When cakes are cool, turn them onto a cutting board. With a very sharp knife, level off the top of the cake by running your knife along in a horizontal straight line cutting off any uneven areas. Stack the cakes as perfect as you can and cut off the edges. Then, keeping them stacked, cut your cakes into 1.5″ wide rectangles. Then length of your cake will be whatever is left after you’ve trimmed the edges.
  2. Then, cut your stacked rectangles in half length wise. You should have 4 long pieces per cake to make the checkerboard pattern.
  3. Assemble your 4 pieces into a checkerboard pattern by icing with buttercream between each piece. If this step is confusing, use the picture for reference. Do not ice the outside of the cake.
  4. Once your cakes are glued together with the icing, roll out the almond paste on a sugared (icing sugar) surface to 1/8″ thick rectangle, trimming the edges. Cut rectangles of 4 x 6″
  5. Before you roll the cakes, brush each side with a thin layer of lemon curd. Then, place your cake on the almond paste strips and wrap the strips around until the two ends meet. Trim if necessary.
  6. Smooth over edges with your fingers to make sure the almond paste sticks to the curd.
  7. Brush off extra icing sugar and trim cakes so that the cake and almond paste are flush and the pattern on the inside is exposed on both ends.
  8. Repeat 3 more times until you have 4 mini Battenberg cakes.
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