Salwaa Smith – Cape Malay Cooking & Other Delights
From My Kitchen To Yours – keeping our heritage alive!
Check jam roll this is a quintessential Cape Malay recipe. One that adorned every cake table at a wedding, hujaaj, on the Eid/labarang table or any other social gathering. Check jam roll is also known as Battenberg Cake in England. This striking checkerboard cake is a favourite for afternoon tea in England. Legend has it that the cake was created in honour of the marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Victoria to Prince Louis of Battenberg in the 1880s. (The coloured squares inside are thought to represent the four princes of Battenberg) It’s quite possible that the English brought the recipe to South Africa and we’ve adapted the recipe to represent our colourful personalities as the original recipe was only yellow and pink in colour and covered with marzipan.
From what I can remember my sister in law making this cake, she used to finish it off in chocolate flavour as well as a plain icing sugar. This cake can be made in advance and keeps well for up to a week if wrapped and stored properly. Slices of this cake was often used as a centre piece in a cake plate at wedding and other such gatherings.
Assembling the cake requires some precision, but it’s easier than it looks. The batter is thick enough that you can fairly neatly spoon two colours next to each other without them bleeding together; you might have to trim a bit off each half to cut away any combined bits. Or you can create a divider to keep them separate. I’ve wrapped a thin piece of cardboard, such as from a tissue box, in aluminium foil to good effect. My recipe makes 2 cakes.
6 large eggs
1½ cups castor sugar
½ cup hot water
2 tsp cooking oil
2 cups self-raising flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder
½ tsp vanilla essence
½ tsp red food colouring
½ tsp rosewater (optional)
½ tsp green food colouring
½ tsp peppermint essence (optional)
½ cup smooth apricot jam
1 tbsp hot water
2 cups icing sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder (omit if finishing off the cake plain)
Enough water to make a paste
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan. Lightly grease two Swiss roll tins and line it with greaseproof paper. Cut a strip of cardboard to fit the length of the tins. It should fit snug. Cover the cardboard with foil. Lightly grease the foil and wedge into place.
In a large bowl beat eggs and castor sugar until light and creamy. Mix in vanilla essence, oil & hot water. Fold in the self-raising flour and baking powder.
Divide the mixture evenly into 4 bowls. Mix the red food colouring and the rosewater (if you’re using it) in one bowl. In the 2nd bowl mix the green food colouring and peppermint essence (if you’re using it). In the 3rd bowl mix the cocoa powder and in the 4th bowl the vanilla essence.
Turn the pink mixture (the red will have turned pink) into one side of the prepared tins. Turn the green mixture into the other half of the tin. Turn the chocolate and vanilla batter into the second prepared tin. Smooth the batter gently into the corners.
Bake for 20 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Leave to stand for 5 minutes in the tin. Slide a knife between the cake, tin and foil strip. Turn onto a wire cooling rack lined with greaseproof paper. Remove greaseproof paper attached to the bottom of the cakes. Leave to cool completely.
Trim the cake so that each half measures approximately 28x9cm. Cut each slab in half lengthways so that there are eight equal pieces.
Mix the jam and hot water to thin the jam slightly. To assemble the cake, brush the top of each cake strip with the jam and press a pink strip on top of a vanilla strip, do the same with the chocolate and green strips. Press the pink/vanilla strip together with the chocolate/green strip to create a chequerboard effect. Make sure to brush all the inside strips with jam to help it sticking together.
Mix the icing sugar and cocoa powder together with a bit of water to make a thick paste. Brush the cocoa paste all around the outside of the cake and roll desiccated coconut all over the cocoa paste. Wrap the cake firmly in greaseproof paper and leave to set for a couple of hours. Cut a very thin slice off each end of the cake for a neat edge.
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