A uniquely Cork cake was the star of The Great Festive Bake Off 2020
Only in Cork, like.
A very local confectionery quirk had bakers everywhere scratching their heads this week after a ‘Cork Battenberg’ was featured on the special New Year’s episode of The Great British Bake-Off.
In a first for the show, Noel, Sandi, Prue and Paul welcomed the cast of the TV show Derry Girls to compete for Star Baker in the festive tent.
Aherla native Siobhán McSweeney, who plays Sister Michael in the hit TV series, was ready for action… with a plan to add a distinctly Cork flavour to the programme.
We’re back on New Year’s Day at 7.40pm for The Great Festive Bake Off with some legendary Girls from Derry! #GBBO pic.twitter.com/0OVNhubs6q
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) December 25, 2019
What is a Cork Battenberg?
For the showstopper challenge, the judges demanded a two-tier sponge cake inspired by their favourite decade.
Siobhán created a 1980s-inspired ‘Camping in Cork’ cake, a vibrant creation that was an homage to her childhood family holidays in West Cork. Her plan was to create a base of chocolate raspberry cake with buttercream grass and a triangular Battenberg tent on top.
Explaining her theme to the judges (and seven million viewers) Siobhán said: “We had this thing that we called Battenberg. It was only when I moved away from Cork I realised a Battenberg is something else entirely. So this is a Cork Battenberg.”
Shoutout to @siobhni for teaching everyone that cork battenburg is the real one 👌🏻 #GBBO #derrygirls
— tea please (@eileeno10) January 1, 2020
“It’s a triangular chocolate log with alternative vanilla sponge and chocolate sponge.”
Here’s a bit of Battenberg background…
While a traditional Battenberg is a pink and yellow sponge, covered in marzipan (first baked in 1884 to celebrate Prince Louis of Battenberg marrying Princess Victoria, Queen Victoria’s granddaughter), in Cork we like to do things differently.
Old Mill are going insane with excitement right now that @siobhni has put Cork Battenburg on the map! #GBBO #DerryGirls pic.twitter.com/yVMuTLJxlW
— Aaron Barry-Long (@AaronChops) January 1, 2020
The rest of the world has happily been enjoying their boring old square version for over 100 years, but on Leeside the triangular Battenburg is the only acceptable shape.
It’s all thanks to Thompson Bakery, which churned out the best traditional confectionery on MacCurtain street for generations. When Thompsons closed, Old Mill Confectionery took up the mantle in 1984, sticking with the unique triangular shape their Cork customers knew and loved.
You can still pick up their triangular Battenberg in most supermarkets in Cork.
Heavily influenced into picking this up today 🥰 pic.twitter.com/ywlWcW34VA
— tea please (@eileeno10) January 2, 2020
While everything didn’t exactly go to plan on the show and her co-star Saoirse Jackson was the ultimate winner of the Festive Bake-Off, the judges (and Twitter) had plenty of compliments for Siobhán’s pure Cork bake.
Even bestselling author Marian Keyes got in on the act, tweeting ‘NO!!! Siobhan and the Cork Battenburg should have won!!!!!!’
She was ROBBED I tells ya #CorkBattenburg should be given the freedom of the city and made a heritage food. Wait-do they do that?-well they should
— Pryia Gill (@Pggill) January 1, 2020
We couldn’t agree more.