Cakespy: An Educaketion

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[Original artwork and photographs: Jessie Oleson]

Really, Battenberg Cake is a perfect food analogy for the film An Education.

It starts out with an unlikely pairing—only instead of May-December lovers, it's two cakes, one a light, girly pink; the other a rich, refined Madagascar vanilla (which in my version includes worldly splash of amaretto).

And like the film's main characters, both flavors breathe new life when put together. You get a delicious shot of sweetness from the pink cake paired with the intensity of the amaretto-infused cake. It's beautifully rounded out by a thick slather of preserves (and, if you're feeling decadent, a smear of buttercream frosting), all blanketed in a rich layer of marzipan. Of course, unlike the film, you don't have to take the bitter with this sweetness.

Dramatic, layered with sweet subtleties, and ever-so-British: consider this An Educaketion.

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An Educaketion Battenberg Cake

About the author: Jessie Oleson is a Seattle-based writer, illustrator, and cake anthropologist who runs Cakespy, an award-winning dessert website.

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Cakespy: An Educaketion

About This Recipe

Yield:about 8
This recipe appears in: Planning Your Oscar Party Menu

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup of milk, approximately
  • Red food coloring
  • 1 ounce amaretto (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of apricot jam or your choice of preserves
  • 1/4 cup vanilla buttercream frosting (optional)
  • 11 ounces almond paste or fondant to cover

Procedures

  1. 1

    Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. 2

    Line a shallow square cake tin (9x9 inches works well) with parchment paper.

  3. 3

    Cream the butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy.

  4. 4

    Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

  5. 5

    Sift the flour, baking powder and fold into the creamed mixture.

  6. 6

    Add sufficient milk to give the dough a soft consistency, kind of like that of a drop cookie.

  7. 7

    Separate the dough into two equal parts. In a bowl, mix half of the dough with 1 ounce amaretto. If you don't like amaretto, this step is optional. Place the dough into one half of your prepared cake pan. It should be stiff enough that it won't drip into the other half.

  8. 8

    Add a strip of parchment paper to the middle of the pan, along the edge of where your white-colored dough ends at the halfway point. This will help keep the dough colors divided while you bake.

  9. 9

    Add a few drops of red food coloring to the remaining mixture to turn it a pink color, then spoon this into the other half of the prepared pan.

  10. 10

    Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cake has risen and is lightly brown on the edges and has a dull finish on top.

  11. 11

    Turn out on a wire rack and let cool fully.

  12. 12

    Trim the edges of the cake so that both pieces are of uniform size; then cut each half in two so that you have four equally sized strips.

  13. 13

    Gently heat the apricot jam in a small pan and stick the stripes of cake together, one plain piece next to one colored one, and then vice versa to make a checkerboard effect.

  14. 14

    Brush the top of the assembled cake with apricot jam.

  15. 15

    Roll out the almond paste into a rectangle the length of the cake and wide enough to cover both sides.

  16. 16

    Invert the cake on to the almond paste, then brush the remaining three sides with apricot jam. If you want an extra dose of decadence, I found that adding a thin layer of buttercream frosting in addition to the apricot jam was quite a nice addition.

  17. 17

    Press the almond paste neatly around the cake; serve in slices.

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