Battenberg cake

I'm back with a second inspiration from London: Battenberg cake!  You've no doubt seen this cake before.  There's a whimsical quality to it, with its alternating colors and checkerboard pattern.  I know I've seen it and smiled, thinking maybe I'll give it a try one day but never quite finding the motivation to actually take action.  Well, traveling and the desire to recreate good food that you had along the way is a great motivator.
Battenberg cake is an almond sponge cake (though we're referring to British sponge cakes like the Victoria sponge, which are buttery batter cakes) fused together with apricot jam, and wrapped in marzipan.  It was reportedly created in honor of the marriage of Princess Victoria to Prince Louis of Battenberg back in 1884.  

Being a classic British afternoon tea cake, it was one of the desserts we sampled during afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason in London a few weeks ago (I ate a lot of delicious things there during that tea). The cake was one of several desserts we could choose from following the tiers of finger sandwiches, scones, and desserts we were served at the table; we were stuffed by the time it came to choose from the dessert trolley but somehow managed to make room for a few more bites, and I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty the Battenberg cake was. 
So that got me seriously thinking about trying my hand at making Battenberg cake at home. Surprisingly, the cake is not all that hard to make!  You make one almond sponge cake batter, color half of it in pink, and bake both colors in one pan (using a makeshift divider).  Once baked, it's a matter of slicing the cake into logs, fusing them together alternately with apricot jam, then rolling out marzipan and wrapping the cake in it.  
It's not just fun to look at, this cake tastes good as well!  You have buttery almond sponge cake with the extra flavor and moisture from apricot jam that goes so well with it, wrapped in the sweetness of the marzipan, which also adds a lovely chewiness to the bite.  It really is a great cake to enjoy with a cup of tea.  And I can't help but think it would be a lovely bake for Mother's Day coming up!
To be honest, I didn't think I'd find a lot of cooking inspiration that I could tackle at home from London and I'm glad I was wrong.  I'm really happy I made this cake; I'm not sure I ever would have if not for tasting it on the trip.  It felt great to be able to recreate it at home and I think my family was pretty happy with my efforts, too.  It's wonderful to be able to extend your vacation and travels by reminiscing with food. And the only thing better than making something is watching it disappear quickly as everyone enthusiastically polishes it off!

Shall we get into the details of making the Battenberg cake?  I found a gorgeous rendition of it and followed it best I could.  Appropriately, it's an adaption of English baker, Mary Berry's recipe. 

Interestingly, this cake uses an "all-in" method.  Quite literally, all the wet ingredients get added to the dry and it's all mixed together until just combined.  I thought I'd give it a try.  
It looks a bit frightening at first but with just a little mixing, you have a smooth, thick cake batter as shown below.  Just make sure your butter is softened and your eggs are at room temperature so that it incorporates easily and you don't over-mix the batter.
The cake is baked in an 8-inch square pan.  Line it with parchment paper, making a divider in the center that's reinforced with some folded aluminum foil.  Since the batter is thick, it stands up well on its own.  Though not necessary, it helps to have someone hold the middle divider for you while you fill in the batter; my husband was a most willing and excellent helper!  Place half the batter into one side of the pan, then color the other half with pink (or red) food coloring before doing the same.  I used a deep rose pink gel paste food coloring; I lost count after a while but I think I used a good dozen drops to get the color you see here.
The cake needs to bake for about 25 minutes or so.  It should spring back lightly when touched and a cake tester should come out clean when it's done.  
Unfortunately, the center of my yellow cake sunk a bit.  I wish I had a good explanation for why.  The recipe calls for self-rising flour and I DIY'ed it; I could say that might have had something to do with but the pink cake did not have the same issue.  Since it's always the case to "make it work", I didn't sweat it too much since the issue wasn't major and the cakes will be trimmed.
Stack the two cakes on top of each other and trim the sides using a serrated knife to even it out.  Cut the cakes lengthwise as evenly as possible so you have 4 equal logs. Then, they get stacked alternately and "glued" together using apricot jam (warm the apricot jam/preserve and press it through a sieve to remove any lumps).  
I thought rolling out the marzipan would be tricky but surprisingly, it was easy!  I rolled it out between a piece of parchment paper, lightly dusted with powdered sugar, and a piece of plastic wrap placed on top.  It should be large enough to cover the entire cake.  Then start by brushing the bottom of the cake logs with jam, placing it down onto the marzipan, then brush the other 3 sides of the cake (the ends will be trimmed so it's not really necessary to brush those).  Finally, bring the marzipan up and press it around to fit the cake. 
When it's done, turn it so that it's seam-side down.  Finally, score the top of the cake with the back of a knife to decorate.
For the moment of truth, slice the cake!  Trim off a bit of the ends to reveal the pattern.
Then, brew some tea!  I indulged in a little shopping while at Fortnum & Mason, bringing home some of the gorgeous blue china I used here.  I seriously hope I don't break any of it because I have the tendency of doing that too often in the kitchen!
I don't know about you but everything seems to taste better on nice china.  That said, this cake is not only fun but tasty even if you eat it off of a plain paper plate.  I'm happy I tackled this baking project!
...On a last note, I thought I'd show you the slice of Battenberg cake we had at our afternoon tea at Fortnum in London.  I know the photo quality is poor but you can see their Battenberg cake in the background.  The desserts on the cart might have looked a bit tired by the time we got to it late in the day but they sure tasted good.  Not only the Battenberg, I also fell in love with the slice of chocolate ganache cake (if/when I get my hands on that recipe, I will totally make it) and my husband really enjoyed the coconut Victoria sponge cake.  There was also an apple tart and loaf cake that we didn't have room to sample but we probably should have given how good the rest of the desserts were...

Recipe:

Battenberg Cake
Adapted from Mandy Mortimer (a beautiful, highly-detailed rendition that I highly recommend), who adapted it from Mary Berry's Baking Bible

- Serves approximately 8-10 -

For cake:
175g/6 oz. (1 1/3 cups) self-rising flour*
175g/6 oz. (3/4 cup) caster/superfine sugar
65g/2 1/3 oz (1/2 cup) almond meal
175g/6 oz. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
3 large eggs, room temperature 
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Pink or red food coloring

To finish:
100g/3 1/2 oz. (1/3 cup) apricot jam
225g/8 oz. marzipan
Powdered sugar, for rolling

*To make your own self-rising flour: For each 1 cup of self-rising flour, sift 1 cup (115g) all-purpose flour together with 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Make cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8-inch square pan and line it with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle that will separate the two batter colors.  To reinforce the center divide, fold a piece of aluminum foil to fit into parchment divide.

In the bowl of the stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk the flour, sugar, and almond meal together.  In a measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs and remaining wet ingredients (everything except the food coloring) and add it to the bowl along with the butter.  Beat everything together until just combined and the batter is smooth, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.  Evenly spread half the batter into one half of the pan, smoothing the top.  Add pink food coloring to the remaining half of the batter, starting with a few drops and adding more to reach a deep pink color.  Transfer the pink batter to the other half of the pan, evenly spreading and smoothing over the top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cake springs back slightly when touched and a cake tester inserted comes out clean.  Let cool a few minutes in the pan, then carefully remove it from the pan onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Trim and assemble: Once fully cooled, trim the edges (and tops, if necessary) of the cakes with a serrated knife to even them up in size.  Carefully cut each sponge cake in half lengthwise with a serrated knife into 4 even strips.  Neaten and trim the sponge cakes some more, if necessary.

Gently heat the apricot jam and pass it through a sieve to remove any lumps.  Brush the warm jam onto the strips of cake to stick them together in a checkered pattern of alternating color.

Finish the cake: Dust a clean surface lightly with powdered sugar and roll out the marzipan into an oblong shape (I like rolling it between parchment paper and plastic wrap) large enough to cover the entire cake.  Brush the top of the cake with jam and place it onto the center of the marzipan, jam-side down.  Brush the other 3 sides with jam (if you have extra, you can also brush the ends but that will be trimmed before serving).  Gently bring up and press the marzipan around the cake, making sure the seam will be in the bottom when turned, or in a corner.  Carefully flip the cake around so that it's seam-side down.  To decorate, score the top of the cake with the back of a knife.

Finally, neaten the ends of the cake by trimming it slightly to reveal the checkered pattern.  Slice and serve, with tea, of course!



34 comments:

  1. You did an excellent job creating this battenberg cake. I would love a slice with my afternoon tea :-))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I was happy with it (I have relatively low expectations).

      Delete
  2. You did a fabulous job on that cake. It takes patience and precision and you nailed it. I love your tea set it is so beautiful. High tea has never been so delicious!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much. I am sadly lacking in patience and precisions and I managed so I know anyone can do it and better.

      Delete
  3. Oh my goodness - this is absolutely amazing! I am thrilled for you. I've never had, nor made, a Battenberg cake but I want to now! What a great way to enjoy a cup of tea. Well done Monica!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww...thank you, Tricia. You know how nice it is to be inspired by traveling. This was really fun and I'm so glad I tried it. Thanks again! xo

      Delete
  4. Such a beautiful cake Monica, and what fun recreating food that you and your family loved while traveling. I bet this cake will always remind you of that trip. Great instructions too, you spelled everything out step by step so that even I might be able to bake it. Have a great week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Cheri! I think you're right about us associating this cake with the trip. It's always fun to make memories and get to relive an outing at home in small ways like this. You are very kind but if you want detailed instructions, you must check out the source I sited for this...there are far more tips and instructions that I found so very helpful. You have a lovely week, too.

      Delete
  5. Oh my goodness! Monica, this cake is scandalously sexy. I would love to have a slice. This is as perfect as the ones I ate during my afternoon tea expeditions in London. Dear, your post put a huge smile on my face.
    Have a tip top tastic week, sweetie :)

    P.S. This cake will definitely be a great Mother's Day cake.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh forgot to say....I'll make this cake :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are very kind, thank you! Wish I could share a slice with you. : ) I'm so glad the cake/post put a smile on your face. Making it put some smiles on my face as well. I hope you try it and if you do, I highly recommend the site I referred to in my recipe source - there are many great pictures and tips that helped me tremendously. Have a wonderful week!

      Delete
    2. Thank you, I'll give you my feedback. :)

      Delete
  7. Oh my goodness! Monica, this is beyond amazing and I can only imagine the amount of time and effort you put into it. You are so talented!I so want to try this but I am not good at baking. I would love a slice though :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so sweet, Bal. Honestly, I thought and read a lot about it beforehand but the actual cake was not as hard or involved to make as we'd think. I baked the cake in the morning and went out for a bit as it cooled, then came home and finished it up. If I can do it, you absolutely can. Wish I could share a slice with you over a cup of tea!

      Delete
  8. What a classic and yours is so pretty. That icing is amazingly thin!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Caroline. You basically have to roll it fairly thin to stretch the 8oz. of marzipan to fit the cake. I just tried to continuously check on it and move the marzipan around to make sure it was even and wouldn't break. : )

      Delete
  9. Oh my goodness, I am LOVING all of these fun treats inspired by your trip to London. This Battenburg cake is just beautiful, Monica!! I can only imagine how amazing it tastes too - you did such an amazing job! Definitely making me wish I had a slice with a cup of tea right now :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you like it, Kelly. It's fun to have some new inspiration and motivation. : ) This cake is really great with a cuppa. I can see how all these traditions have stayed intact.

      Delete
  10. Such a pretty and neat looking battenberg cake, Monica. Love how patiently and beautifully you have crafted this cake — wonderful job. I bet it tastes as delish as it looks.

    Anu
    http://www.mygingergarlickitchen.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad I may have "fooled" everyone into thinking I'm patient. ; ) Thanks so much for the kind words.

      Delete
  11. Oh Monica, what a great cake...you make it look so easy...I love the jam in between and the layer of marzipan.
    Enjoy your week :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, jam and marzipan with almond cake - much like Italian rainbow/tricolor cookies - is such a classic and so tasty.

      Delete
  12. Okay this cake I have definitely seen before!! Although I had no idea that's what it was called! How fun to make this at home yourself. I agree that it can really be a great way to remember trips when you recreate things that you ate while on them! Hope you're having a great week Monica!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's good to come home and get inspired to try these things out. Thanks, Ashley!

      Delete
  13. Absolutely perfect looking!! I've been meaning to make this cake for ages myself but never got to it. I thought it would be a good idea to color the plain sponge blue and to have a pink blue birthday cake for my kids, they both have birthday in August and sometimes they celebrate it together. And I love that coffee service so much, exactly my thing! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Adina. I would love to see your version!! I was half tempted to make a chocolate one (yellow and chocolate) or say pistachio but blue and pink would be beautiful and so sweet to have it for the kids' birthday. I know my son enjoyed this cake and there wasn't a drop of chocolate in sight. ; ) Thanks again.

      Delete
  14. This is such a dreamy looking cake!!! It turned out perfect!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Ashley. Have a good weekend!

      Delete
  15. Now your post will be my motivation to re-create this. How gorgeous Monica! I've never felt tempted to attempt this until now. And I'm sure it's absolutely delicious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure you would make a stunning Battenberg, Sonali. It was a rewarding thing to bake and we had a good time eating it, too. : )

      Delete
  16. Sounds like you had a wonderful trip! This cake is lovely. Although I'd heard of it, I didn't know what it looked like. You did a terrific job of recreating it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a great family trip. Thanks, Beth!

      Delete
  17. Wow~ This battenberg cake is a real showstopper for Mother’s Day. It’s so beautiful, and I love the cake features apricot and marzipan, two of my favorite things. I really appreciate your step by step photos; it makes the process seem much more doable and user-friendly. The final product turned out wonderfully!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Monica! So nice to hear from you. It was fun to make this...I've thought about it for ages but never had a 'good' reason. This was fun and my family really enjoyed it. : ) My pics don't do it justice. The source I used had really great detailed step by step in case you need it.

      Delete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...