The Great Canadian Baking Show

I made the Battenberg cake from The Great Canadian Baking Show

"I don't have enough butter. Nobody cares, so I'm using margarine and butter, because this is my house." Amateur baker Anne T. Donahue attempts to make a Battenberg cake.
(Anne T. Donahue)

Okay, so let's get one thing straight here: I'm missing ingredients.

Do you know how hard it is to find pistachio paste? Do you know how many stores I went to, looking specifically for pistachio paste? (Answer: four. I went to four.)

Do you know that you can't buy marzipan just anywhere? Do you know that I have no intention of making my own?

Right. So that's where we begin. If this were The Great Canadian Baking Show in real life, I'd be voted off so quickly you wouldn't have time to learn who I was or what province I came from. But this isn't The Great Canadian Baking Show, this is my own life, and I am Anne and this is Ontario. Let's see if I can make this in the one hour, 45 minutes allotted time.

This British classic of sponge, jam and marzipan is well known for it distinct checkerboard pattern, flavoured with cherry extract and pistachio paste. (The Great Canadian Baking Show)


Do you ever just look at a recipe and think, "Oh, no thank you" and choose to move on with your life? I am there, that is me, but I cannot. I'm going to grease a pan now.


My pan is 8" instead of 9".


Between you and me, I don't have enough butter. Nobody cares, so I'm using margarine and butter because this is my house and I bet even Bruno Feldeisen has done this before (Bruno, if you're reading this, do not correct me).


I've made cake batter! I used far too much vanilla extract, but as Jude said about her cupcakes: who measures vanilla anyway? (Not me. Not her. Hopefully nobody reading this.)

I don't think anybody ever measures vanilla. Do they really? It's just slop-slop.- Baker Jude Somers

Dividing cake batter into two bowls now, flavouring one with cherry extract. And the other with more vanilla. Because pistachio paste is a lie and Rochelle isn't here to tell me I'm wrong.

Also, James describes the pistachio paste as a "gross green colour" and honestly, that's validation enough that skipping it was the right call (It looks like baby food? So, hard pass).


My cherry batter isn't pink. Why isn't my cherry batter pink? It should be pink. Do I add food colouring? Is that bad? Am I going to poison us all? I'm doing it. It's fine. I bought the food colouring in a grocery store. It's not like I'm doing shots of it.

If I were on this show, I would be escorted out by the police.

The bakers mention that they weren't told how much cherry extract to use, but whatever I bought smells so strong I actually feel ill just stirring it. It's food colouring or death. I'll just pretend my batter looks as nice as Vandana's.


And into the oven it goes! I am amazing (just kidding, the cake has begun to fold in on itself slightly).


I won't lie. From what I see, this does not look great. Everything I touch turns to disaster.

But onto the fondant. It scares me, I don't understand it, I hate that I want to eat it while I'm rolling it out, I'm certain I'm going to over-colour it.

Sweet Pierre also struggles with the complex engineering of the Battenberg cake (The Great Canadian Baking Show)


I over-coloured my hands. Also, my cakes have bled into each other. My hands are sticky and there's fondant all over my keyboard now. Pray for my soul.


The cakes aren't even close to done. Imagine a lake. Now, imagine a swamp. Now, imagine something that resembles both, but one tastes like cherry. Whatever you're picturing still looks better than these cakes. How did every baker do this better than me?


Okay, so here's the thing: are they burnt slightly, yet underdone in the centre? Absolutely. But they're out, we're all still here and now it's time for me to warm up some jam.


The jam is warmed, it's been pushed through a sieve, and all I can hear is James' description that a Battenberg cake is like "engineering," which makes me want to smother myself in cake and die. Did you know I still use my fingers when doing multiplication? I am a 32-year-old woman. But I have also miraculously cut the cakes into even rectangles, so respect me now for I am your God.

Terri's Battenburg cake tower, a "skyscraper-esque bake that doesn’t look like a Battenberg, but certainly still looks complicated." (The Great Canadian Baking Show)


The thing they don't tell you about using post-sieved jam is that it is very runny and will bleed into your cake. Also, since I don't have any marzipan, I'm rolling my fondant directly onto my now-assembled cake and pretending the heat from the cake I didn't cool properly isn't warping it as much as it is.


But speaking of assembly: this is the easy part. Why was everybody so confused? Just . . . make it look like a checkerboard. Just cut it, then re-stack it and then tell yourself how professional you are until you start to believe it (I say this here, in the comfort of my own kitchen, knowing that if I were in the tent, I'd pull a Terri and create a skyscraper-esque bake that doesn't look like a Battenberg, but certainly still looks complicated).


Actually, it doesn't look that bad. I'm going to peel pistachios now and then sprinkle them on top.


Alright, well now it does look bad. Pistachios should come unpeeled because I've failed at this.


While we're at it, let's pretend the maraschino cherries are what the recipe required (and not fresh cherries that actually look picturesque). Let's also pretend the syrup isn't running down the sides of my cake. And then let's pretend that when you look at the photo, you assume I knew exactly what I was doing as I was doing it; that I'm not missing marzipan, that the fondant is even and that the vanilla sponge tastes like pistachios.

Judges Rochelle and Bruno appreciate a real cherry, but Anne has decided to use maraschino cherries from a jar. It's fine. (The Great Canadian Baking Show)

See? Not that bad now, is it. This fondant doesn't taste like Cadbury Creme Eggs though, so I will now be peeling it off.

Follow Anne T. Donahue as she bakes along to every week of The Great Canadian Baking Show's technical bakes. Did you make your won Battenberg cake? Add the hashtag #GCBSbakealong to your posts and share on social media!