Ready Steady Bake… Battenburg Cake!
Lifestyle Print Editor Georgia Shepherd takes us through her exquisite recipe for the classic British Battenburg
After many hours spent binge watching the Great British Bake Off, I couldn’t resist setting myself a challenge, the Battenburg. After all if you’d like to spend an afternoon baking a Battenburg you may as well do so in lockdown.
The Battenburg is an absolute British classic. In fact The Independent illustrate that the first Battenburg cake was baked in 1884 to celebrate Prince Louis of Battenburg (I wonder where they got the name from?) marrying Princess Victoria, Queen Victoria’s granddaughter.
I am pleased to say that the Battenburg is in fact easier than it or the method looks. The four sponge fingers are simply sandwiched together with apricot jam and coated in deliciously sweet marzipan. Simple as. But just be sure to have a good amount of patience (i.e don’t lose the will at the end when your marzipan isn’t immediately stretchy). Oh and plenty of cups of tea.
Surprisingly the most straight-forward way which I found to create your dream Battenburg was to in-fact make two (madness I know). So in order to make your beautiful Battenburg’s you’ll need:
- For the almond sponge
- 175g very soft butter
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 140g self-raising flour
- 50g ground almonds
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 3 medium free-range eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- For the pink sponge
- All of the almond sponge ingredients plus pink food colouring (or use red sparingly)
- To assemble your masterpiece:
- 200g apricot jam
- 2 x 500g blocks of white marzipan
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees, and line a 20cm tin with grease proof paper.
- To whizz up the almond sponge, put the butter, sugar, flour, ground almonds, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and almond extract in a rather large bowl. Then beat the mixture (with an electric whisk if you have one).
- Then scrape the mixture into your baking tin, and bake in the oven for around 25-30 minutes. But check on it from 20 minutes onwards just to be on the safe side. You are aiming for a light golden colour!
- Once you’ve let the cake cool in the tin for around 10 mins, pop it onto the wire rack to cool.
- Then to make your pink sponge you want to do all the steps as above (minus the almond extract), but before you mix the ingredients together gently add in your food colouring. If you want to create a traditional Mr Kipling like Battenburg you want a light pink, but if you fancy something else then go for it!
- When both your cakes are cool, it’s time to assemble! You are best to start with the heating the apricot jam on a low heat on the hob. When it becomes runny, sieve it through.
- Following on, you’ll want to trim the edges of your cakes, just to neaten them up and ensure size consistency between the two sponges. But don’t let the sponge edges go to waste – we used ours to make trifles!
- You then roughly measure the height of the four sponges, so you can cut four slices each the same width as the sponge height. Repeat this for your second cake.
- Next roll out one of your marzipan blocks (over a good sprinkling of icing sugar) to just over 20cm wide and around 0.5cm thick. Then brush apricot jam all over the marzipan.
- In the centre of your marzipan place an almond and a pink sponge finger. Then brush the sponge with apricot jam. Add the next two sponge fingers, remembering to spread over the apricot jam!
- Last but not least, carefully lift up the marzipan and wrap it length ways around the Battenburg. Be sure to trim off an excess marzipan to ensure it looks super neat. If you’d like you can try and score the marzipan to add that finishing touch!
- You then repeat this for the second sponge. If you don’t fancy having two Battenburg’s on the ago, you could freeze one or maybe give one away to a family in need!
A slice or two of Battenburg is best served with a cup of English breakfast! Happy baking!