Battenberg Cake

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I pulled this recipe out of a magazine months ago, planning to use it for #TastyTuesday. As I write this, the cake is cooling on the cooling rack and I am feeling very, very hungry and hoping it lives up to its wonderful aroma.

Battenberg cake is known for the pink and white checkerboard pattern of its interior. Apparently it has also been known in the past as Church Window Cake, Neapolitan Roll and Domino Cake. Sources say that it was called “Battenberg Cake” to honor the 1884 marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria, to Prince Louis of Battenberg, Germany. Battenberg is the family seat of the aristocratic Mountbatten family, which has close ties to today’s royal family. Those ties deserve their own book (or two) and more time, energy and interest than I personally have—and that history isn’t really relevant to this particular cake anyway. Whether you like history or not, this cake is worth a try.

Battenberg Cake
Serves 8

200g/ 7  oz/ 1.75 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
200 g/ 7 oz/ .75 cup +1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
200 g/ 7 oz / 1.75 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 level tsp baking powder
3/4 x 10 g tube pink food color gel (this is a tricky one to convert–if you have food color gel, great. If not, use food coloring to make the batter a nice pinky-rose color)
115 g/ 3.75 oz/ 7.5 tablespoons apricot jam*
icing sugar, for dusting
1 x 500g pack natural marzipan (about 1 pound)**

* This would be equally delicious with raspberry or strawberry jam.
** I am not fond of marzipan, so I used regular white icing in its place.

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas 4, 180°C, 160°C fan, 350°F. Grease 2 loaf tins and line with baking paper.
  2. Beat the butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well, then fold in the flour and baking powder. Transfer the mixture to a bowl on some kitchen scales, then weight out half and color with the pink gel/food coloring.
  3. Transfer the batter to the baking pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. When cool, trim the sides and top and cut each cake in half lengthwise. Use the jam to stick the long edge of one pink slice to one white slice. Spread the top of these with jam and place the other two cake halves on top, spreading the top with jam as well. (Note: because I didn’t use marzipan, I didn’t spread the top with jam—too messy.)
  5. If you are using marzipan, take a large rectangle of greaseproof/waxed paper/baking parchment and dust it with icing sugar. Roll out the marzipan onto the rectangle and then place the cake, jam side down, against the short edge of the marzipan. Brush the other sides of the cake with more jam and roll the cake in the marzipan. (You don’t put the marzipan on the ends, just around the length of the cake.) Dust with icing sugar before serving.

And that, my friends, is a Battenberg cake. Enjoy!

PS: It was delicious.

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Summer Adventure Video and a Giveaway!

I’ve promised you more photos from our Crete summer holiday–and finally, here they are. I made this video using an app from RealTimes—a great app I received for free when I attended the BritMums Live blogging conference in June. The folks at RealTimes gave me a free, unlimited cloud storage account (an £80 value) that gives me unlimited photo and video storage, the ability to make videos (and photo albums) from my photos, with music, and share them easily. The app will even create the videos for you by collecting images it thinks belong together, so it’s a real no-brainer way to make great videos without much effort. You can edit the videos, add music to the video from their offerings or add your own. I’ve only just begun exploring what they offer, but for the somewhat technically challenged individual (me!) who doesn’t have a lot of spare time, I’ve got to say I really like it.

Why have I told you all of that? Well, because I’ve got one Unlimited RealTimes account to give away to you, dear reader. (And I’m going to be upgrading my site soon so I can more easily post videos and giveaways, and in the spirit of a general upgrade/improvement… so stay tuned.)

Click on the link below, watch the video, let me know what you think, then come back and enter the giveaway!

https://realtimes.real.com/e/y2RpNY?autoplay=true&w=960“>P1050231

To enter the giveaway, click here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/39251cfe2/?

Rock Cakes

Rock CakesAny Brits reading this blog will be familiar with rock cakes—and I have to admit the first time I heard of them, many years ago, I didn’t think they sounded particularly appetizing. And indeed, they can turn into the consistency of rock if you leave them in a tin and forget about them for a few days. They are also sometimes called rock buns and are apparently a favorite with children, who traditionally have them with their “tea,” or evening meal, my online research tells me. They are also, allegedly, Harry Potter’s favorite tea time treat. The recipe became popular in WWII, when it was an economical treat usually made with oatmeal rather than flour, as it was more readily available.

Rock Cakes
Makes approximately 15

2 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
4 ounces softened butter
1 cup currants
2 beaten eggs
1/4 cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°C/180°F.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the currants, eggs and milk, mixing to form a stiff batter.

3. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter onto a well-greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown in color–about 15 minutes.

4. Cool them on a cooling rack.
Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Kalitsounia Pies

The pies before they are baked

The pies before they are baked

This will be my final Greek recipe for Tasty Tuesday—it’s allowing me to pretend it’s still summer, if only for a few moments (it has been cold and very, very wet here, though the sun has just decided to make an appearance).

These are small pies made with Mizithra cheese, or, if you have no idea where to find this Greek cheese, ricotta or feta. They’re lovely little things, perfect for an appetizer or snack.

Kalitsounia Pies
(Sorry, I’m not sure how many this makes, other than quite a few)

For the dough:                                                                             For the filling:

1.5 pounds white flour                                                               1 kilogram/2 pounds mizithra, feta or 1/2 cup olive oil                                                                                ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons vinegar                                                                 2 eggs
warm water (as much as needed)                                             a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon salt                                                                             a handful of fresh mint leaves,                                                                                                                       chopped

Note: in the dough recipe our cooking instructor used, she put in 1/4 cup of raki, a very hard liquor made from grape seeds and skins—not something many people having sitting around in their kitchen, I’d imagine, so I’m providing the same alternate, non-raki recipe she did.

  1. Put flour in a large bowl. Make an indentation in the middle of the flour and add the olive oil, vinegar, salt and some water. Add more water until you have the consistency of bread dough that doesn’t stick to your hands.
  2. Cut the dough into 2 balls. Place the balls in a pan and cover with a wet cloth, and allow to sit for two hours.
  3. While the dough is rising, mix the filling ingredients together.
  4. Roll out the dough until it is very thin. Cut into large rounds (we cut around a tea saucer), then place a little of the filling in the middle and fold each edge in while allowing a little of the cheese to remain uncovered in the middle.
  5. Fry in hot olive oil. When the pies are browned on both sides, take them out and put them on kitchen paper to drain.

You can also bake the pies in the oven at180°C/350°F. Place some wax paper in a baking pan, beat 1 egg in a bowl and brush each pie with the egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake until they are golden brown in color.

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Green Beans With Lamb

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Table for 10 under the open sky, Vamos, Crete

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Old mill stones used for pressing olives into oil, Vamos, Crete

Well then. It’s been quiet over here again—we’ve been busy with back to school and activities and laundry and well, all the stuff. Now that everyone’s settled, more or less, back into their autumn schedules, I’m going to get back to regular blogging (ok, let’s cross our fingers there, folks).

This recipe is another one we learned to make during our cooking lesson in Crete, and though I’m not much of a lamb lover, it was pretty tasty. This one is easy to make and you can leave it to cook while you get on with other things, like writing blog posts.

I might share one more Greek recipe with you next week, or I might go back to my regular programming of traditional British recipes. Leave a comment below, if you wish, and tell me if you have an opinion one way or another.

On with the recipe (not sure how many servings it makes, other than lots):

Green Beans with Lamb
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1 kg/2.25 lbs leg of lamb, cut into bite-size pieces
1 kg /2.25 lbs green beans, fresh or frozen
1 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, grated
4 fresh tomatoes, grated, or 2 cups crushed canned tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute lamb and onions in olive oil for about 10 minutes.

2. Add carrots, salt and pepper and mix well.

3. Add the tomato sauce and the water. Let it cook for about 40 minutes.

4. Add the beans, mix well and cook for about 30 more minutes.

Tip: You may add a spoon of sugar in the sauce, if you like.

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com