This months challenge stroked a special cord in my heart. We were asked to make a Battenburg cake. A Battenburg cake is a traditional tea cake of British origin. My Grandmother came to the States from England where she met my Grandfather during WWII. She was always an avid baker and had an apprenticeship at a young age over there in a hotel kitchen, so whenever I have the opportunity to bake anything authentically British, I fondly think of her.
As nostalgic as this cake was for me, I thought it was a very interesting challenge on its own. I had never heard of the cake itself. And for those of you that are in the same boat, a Battenburg cake is basically a two-colored sponge cake that is assembled like a checkerboard so that when you slice through it, the pattern is visible. The layers are held together by either a jam or buttercream and then the entire thing is wrapped in marzipan and usually adorned with some sort of cute pattern. It’s a very sweet cake. It does require a bit of effort, but the presentation itself makes it well worth it.
More often than not you’ll find Battenburg cake to be yellow and pink with flavors of almond and apricot jam. Apricot jam is big in Europe. I didn’t chose to make a cake of the traditional flavor, instead I went with an enticing coffee-walnut cake. There were ground almonds used, which is traditional, but there were also some chopped walnuts as well as some coffee used. The cake was iced in a coffee buttercream rather than jam. The traditional marzipan casing was still used, which is one of my favorite things about this cake. It ends up to be just the cutest little package of cake. VERY impressive!
A few notes about the recipe- If you don’t have a special battenburg pan then you can just make a divider with some parchment paper and foil. It’s very easily done. Then just cut each segment in half to make 4 long rectangles total, 2 of each color. The other thing is that I was really confused about using self-rising flour and then the baking powder….why would it need that much leavening? And as I discovered with my favorite chocolate cake- too much leavening causes cakes to collapse. SO my cakes did indeed collapse : ( I urge you to forego the baking powder if you decide to use self-rising flour and if you use all purpose flour then obviously add the baking powder and maybe 1/2 tsp salt also.
I am so glad that I was able to partake in this challenge and learn a little something about my Grandmothers heritage. Thank you so much Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) 175gm / 6 oz Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
- ¾ cup / 175gm / 6 oz Sugar
- 1¼ cups / 175gm / 6 oz Self-Raising Flour
- 3 Large Eggs, room temperature
- ½ cup / 65gm / 2⅓ oz Ground Almonds
- ¾ tsp / 3½ gm Baking Powder
- 3 tsp (15 ml) Milk
- ½ tsp (2½ ml) Vanilla Extract
- 1½ tsp (7½ ml) 7 gm Instant Coffee Powder or Granules
- 3 Tbsp / 25gm / 1 oz Walnuts, roughly chopped
- ½ cup (1 stick) 115gm /4 oz Unsalted Butter
- 2 cups / 225gm /8 oz Powdered (Icing/Confectioners’) Sugar
- ½ tsp / 2 gm Instant Coffee
- ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1½ tsp (7½ ml) Milk or Cream
- 1 cup / 225gm /8 oz Marzipan, natural or yellow
- Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/160°C Fan Assisted/Gas Mark 4. Grease an 8”/20cm square baking tin with butter
- Line the tin with parchment paper, creating a divide in the middle with the parchment (or foil) OR Prepare Battenberg tin by brushing the tin with melted butter and flouring.
- Whisk together flour and baking powder, set aside.
- Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add ground almonds and mix until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl. Add flour mixture and mix until JUST combined.
- Equally divide the batter between 2 bowls. Mix in the vanilla, 1½ teaspoons milk and chopped walnuts into one bowl and dissolve the coffee in the remaining 1½ teaspoon milk and add to the remaining batter. Spread batters into individual sides of pan.
- Bake for 25-30mins until the cake is well risen, springs back when lightly touched and a
- toothpick comes out clean (it should shrink away from the sides of the pan).
- Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack.
- Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife
- Cut each cake in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of cake. Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible.
- Combine the buttercream ingredients together and mix until combined.
- Spread a thin layer of buttercream onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern.
- Dust a large flat surface with icing sugar then roll the marzipan in an oblong shape that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake. Spread the top of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Place the cake on the marzipan, buttercream side down. Spread buttercream onto the remaining three sides.
- Press the marzipan around the cake, making sure the joint is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over.
- Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with a knife, you can also crimp the top corners with your fingers to decorate.
- Neaten the ends of the cake and remove excess marzipan by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern.