I have wanted to make a Battenberg cake for a long time! I just never got round to it until yesterday. It is sometimes known as a ‘window cake’ and was originally created in 1884 to celebrate the marriage between Princess Victoria and Prince Louis of Battenberg. It’s checkerboard pattern is so distinctive and is even responsible for the ‘Battenberg markings’ that you see on emergency vehicles. The classic colours are of course pink and yellow, but this is a cake to avoid if you don’t like marzipan!
I adapted a Mary Berry recipe from the book ‘The Great British Bake Off, How To Bake’ to make my first ever Battenberg. Berry’s recipe was for a coffee and walnut Battenberg, which I have to say looks absolutely delicious and has inspired me to try lots of different Battenberg flavour combinations! But I just wanted to make the original this time.
The best thing about Mary Berry’s recipe was that it wasn’t wasteful like other Battenberg recipes I researched. A lot of recipes make one batch of yellow in a tin, bake it, then make a batch of pink etc. This means that unless you have the perfect sized tin, you have a much bigger portion than you need, and you’re wasting time and energy making the cake twice. Mary Berry puts both colours in one tin from the same split batch.
Once the cake comes out of the oven, you trim off the crusts and layer up the ‘windows’ with apricot jam.
It actually tastes delicious! But only if you like almonds and marzipan.
100g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
100g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g almonds, ground
1 1/2 tsp milk
3 tbsp apricot jam
(The baking powder is still added even though the recipe uses self-raising flour, because this is an all-in-one method that does not involve a lot of beating)
1) Preheat the oven to 160C or gas mark 3. Find a square 20cm tin, or as close to that size as possible. Cut out a 20cm rectangular piece of baking paper and fold in half to create a crease along the middle of the tin (see the picture above). Grease the tin with melted butter and place the baking paper into the tin with the fold aligned correctly.
2) Beat the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and almonds until smooth and lighter in colour.
3) Split the mixture into two bowls. In one bowl, add the milk and colour the mix a soft pink. In the second bowl, add 1/2 tsp on vanilla extract and colour yellow. Remember, the colour will fade slightly in the oven so don’t make the colours too faint.
4) Spoon the mixes into either side of the tin, level and bake for about 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven, leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
5) Once the cakes have cooled, trim off the crusts and cut each cake into two equal sized rectangles. Heat the jam and sieve if necessary. Spread the jam onto the inner edges of each rectangle and stick the cakes together in the classic Battenberg pattern. With the cake assembled, spread a layer of jam on the very top (to allow the marzipan to stick); there is no need to cover the entire cake but you may if you wish. Cover the cake in marzipan and serve.