Unsinkable Fruity Battenberg Cake

unsinkablecakethumb.JPGThis is another Battenberg-inspired cake - this time including chunks of delicious fruits - A common problem with cakes like this is that the pieces of fruit tend to sink - but here's a clever trick to overcome it.

The Recipe

Ingredients:

For The Cake

  • 200g Self raising flour
  • 100g Rice flour
  • 225g Caster Sugar
  • 200g Soft butter or vegetable baking fat
  • 250g Dried or candied fruits
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon almond (or if you prefer, vanilla) extract

To Decorate

  • 500g Marzipan (or if you prefer, fondant cake icing)
  • Raspberry jam (preferrably seedless)
  • Icing (powdered) sugar

Method:

unsinkablecake2.JPGLine an 8 by 12 inch rectangular tin with greaseproof paper or parchment - it's only really necessary to line the bottom.

If the paper keeps curling up, stick it down with a little vegetable oil or butter.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

unsinkablecake3.JPGCut the fruit into small pieces.

I'm using a mix of apricots, glacé cherries and for a bit of extra zing, crystallised stem ginger. Pretty much any kind of dried or candied fruits would work here - pineapple and papaya might be nice.

unsinkablecake4.JPGPut all of the cake ingredients (except the fruit) into a large bowl and mix together with an electric whisk - mix just until all the small lumps of fat disappear, but no longer.

unsinkablecake5.JPGFold the fruit pieces into the cake mix using a spatula or wooden spoon.

Spoon the mixture into the tin and spread it out evenly.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and slightly springy.

Test in the usual way by poking with a toothpick - if it comes out clean, the cake is done. Otherwise, bake for a few more minutes and test again.

unsinkablecake6.JPGAllow to cool for at least ten minutes in the tin, then run a knife around the edge and turn out onto a wire rack.

(The easiest way to do this is to put the rack upside down on top of the tin and turn the whole assembly over together.)

Carefully and slowly peel the paper off the bottom of the cake while it's still slightly warm.

unsinkablecake7.JPGOnce the cake is fully cooled off, Dust a clean, flat surface with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan into a rectangle about 12 by 18 inches.

If it starts to stick to the work surface, roll it up carefully around the rolling pin, then add more icing sugar.

unsinkablecake8.JPGTrim the long edges off the cake, then cut it in half lengthwise.

unsinkablecake9.JPGTurn the pieces over and apply a generous layer of jam to the bottom surface of one piece.

Layer the other piece on top (bottom surface of the cake facing the jam layer).

unsinkablecake10.JPGSpread a layer of jam on one side of the assembled cake, then carefully tip it onto the rolled marzipan, near the front edge.

Spread a layer of jam on the marzipan and carefully roll the cake over - continue until it's completely wrapped.

unsinkablecake11.JPGThe ends can be tucked in just like wrapping a parcel. Moisten the marzipan with water to make it stick down, if necessary.

Save any trimmings of marzipan to patch up any cracks or gaps (see below).

When you're assembling this cake, and especially if you nibble the trimmings off the edges, you might think it's going to be too dry, but don't worry - there's something about rice flour in a cake that tends to make it seem more moist after it stands for a few hours - and the jam and marzipan wrapping also helps to make this a deliciously moist and soft cake, but without being heavy.

unsinkablecake1.JPG

The Problem

The underlying problem here is all about physics - the dried fruit tends to be denser than the cake mix, the viscosity of the batter will vary depending on the size of the eggs and the absorbent properties of the flour and during cooking, the cake mix may soften and liquefy before it sets.

All of this contributes to a general tendency for the fruit inside a cake to settle on the bottom. This recipe isn't especially prone to the problem - or it wasn't this time - but with a different assortment of fruit, or some other slight variation, it's all different and the fruit sinks.

The Solution

unsinkablecake12.JPGThe solution is pure cheating, but it does the job. The cake is baked in a shalow tin, then cut in half and one half is inverted. Even if all of the fruit sinks quite catastrophically, it will still end up in the middle of the finally-assembled cake.

In other words... it's not a bug - it's a feature.

Marzipan Repair

Even with the greatest of care, a thin layer of marzipan can still crack or split in places when it's being manipulated to wrap a big chunk of cake.

unsinkablecake13.JPGRepairs cen be effected very simply by just moistening a spare piece with water and sticking it on as a patch. Once the cake is sliced up, nobody will notice the join.

 

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