The Battenburg – an English classic cake of fluffy checked sponge, sandwiched together with jam and wrapped in thick almond marzipan.
Just give me all the marzipan!
I made this battenburg for Chris’s birthday recently since I know it’s one of his favourite cakes in the whole world.
We’d just got back from holiday and hadn’t even unpacked yet and I was taking Gracey to a birthday party that day too, so I nearly went out and bought him one….
…. but I’m so glad I didn’t!
Homemade battenburg is awesome, and this recipe makes TWO.
Sounds like overkill, but the first one will be gone before you’ve even finished your cup of tea, so it really is a good idea to make two.
I decided to photo the assembly stage for you guys today, as if you haven’t made battenburg before, the assembly steps seem a lot more complicated than they actually are.
Once you’ve made the pink and a yellow sponge cakes, you simply need to trim/shave the outer edges of the sponge off and cut each sponge into four long fingers. Once you’ve done that bit you get to the fun part of assembling!
Make sure you’ve got plenty of confectioners’ sugar and apricot jam to hand and you’ll be fine.
You can see the full instructions in the recipe section below, but here’s a rundown of the assembly bit with pics:
Roll out one of the marzipan blocks on a surface that’s been dusted with LOTS of confectioners’ sugar. It needs to be a little more than 20cm wide and long enough to wrap around the cake (about 40cm).
Brush centre of the rolled marzipan with apricot jam, then lay a yellow sponge finger on top. Brush the side of the yellow sponge:
Stick a pink sponge finger to the yellow sponge. Brush the top of the two sponge fingers with jam and place the other two fingers on top (with jam in between those two fingers), so you have a checkerboard effect.
Spread jam on the rest of the marzipan.
Fold up the sides of the marzipan – making sure it’s quite tight, and well adhered to the sponge. Fold the edges back on top of the cake and press them together – like you’re sealing a zip-lock bag. Trim the excess marzipan off the top of the cake.
Check again that everything is well adhered, then slice off both ends of the cake – to give a neat finish.
Repeat this process for the other cake.
Turn the cakes over, so the seam is on the bottom, then sprinkle with a little confectioners’ sugar before serving with a nice cup of tea!
Hope all that makes sense!
I based this recipe on the one from the BBC Good Food website – just a few changes here and there to simplify and shorten the process.
- NOTE - this recipe makes two battenburg cakes!
- 360g (1½ cups) very soft butter
- 350g (2 cups minus 4 tbsp) golden caster sugar (use superfine caster if you can't get golden)
- 280g (2 cups plus 2 tbsp) self-raising flour*
- 100g (1 cup) ground almonds (almond meal)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 6 medium eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond extract
- ⅛ tsp yellow food colouring gel (I use Wilton concentrated gel**)
- ⅛ tsp pink food colouring gel
- 2 x 500g (17.5oz) blocks yellow marzipan
- 300g (3/4 cup) apricot jam
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar (for rolling and dusting)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350f. Line the base and sides of two 20cmx20cm square baking tins with baking parchment.
- Place the butter, sugar, flour, ground almonds, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and almond extract into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat, using the whisk attachment, until smooth.
- Divide the mixture into two (weigh it out to ensure it's even). Add the almond extract and the yellow food colouring to one bowl and mix together.
- Add the pink food colouring to the other bowl and mix. You want a vibrant yellow and pink colour, so add a little more colouring if required.
- Spoon one of the mixtures into one tin, and the other into the other tin. Smooth the top and ensure the cake batter is spread into the corners. Place in the oven and and bake for 25-30 mins until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Time to assemble. Roll out one of the marzipan blocks on a surface that's been dusted with LOTS of confectioners' sugar. It needs to be a little more than 20cm wide and long enough to wrap around the cake (about 40cm).
- Heat the apricot jam in a small pan (or microwave for a few seconds) until runny.
- Take one of the cakes and trim the sides and top so that cooked edges are cut off (you can leave the bottom). Cut the sponge into four long fingers - ensuring the height and width of each finger is equal.
- Repeat with the other sponge.
- Brush centre of the rolled marzipan with apricot jam (see picture), then lay a yellow sponge finger on top. Brush the side of the yellow sponge, and stick a pink sponge finger to it. Brush the top of the two sponge fingers with jam and place the other two fingers on top (with jam in between those two fingers), so you have a checkerboard effect.
- Spread jam on the rest of the marzipan then fold up the sides - making sure it's quite tight, and well adhered to the sponge. Fold the edges back on top of the cake and press them together - like you're sealing a zip-lock bag. Trim the excess marzipan off the top of the cake.
- Check again that everything is well adhered, then slice off both ends of the cake - to give a neat finish.
- Repeat this process for the other cake.
- Turn the cakes over, so the seam is on the bottom, then sprinkle with a little confectioners' sugar and serve.
** Food colouring Gel/pastes are better than food colouring liquid, as they have a more intense colour that won't fade during baking.
Any leftover cake should be wrapped in baking parchment and stored in an airtight box at room temperature. It should keep for 2-3 days.