Battenberg Cake 8.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Apr 11, 2017

This striking checkerboard cake is a favorite for afternoon tea in England. Legend has it that the cake was created in honor of the marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Victoria to Prince Louis of Battenberg in the 1880s. (The colored squares inside are thought to represent the four princes of Battenberg.)

Assembling the cake requires some precision, but it's easier than it looks. The batter is thick enough that you can fairly neatly spoon the yellow and pink colors next to each other without them bleeding together; you might have to trim a bit off each half to cut away any combined bits. Or you can create a divider to keep them separate. We've wrapped a thin piece of cardboard, such as from a tissue box, in aluminum foil to good effect.

The original recipe calls for a 7-inch square baking pan; in testing, we found that an 8-inch disposable aluminum pan works just fine. (You'll have slightly more trimmings.)

Make Ahead: The assembled cake, minus the final application of apricot jam and the marzipan exterior, can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature 1 day in advance or frozen for up to 1 month. The assembled cake and be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.


Servings:
8 - 10

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8-10 servings

Ingredients
  • 113 grams (4 ounces; 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 100 grams (about 1/2 cup) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50 grams (6 tablespoons) rice flour
  • 100 grams (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • A few drops almond extract
  • Red food coloring
  • About 1/2 cup apricot jam, or more as needed
  • 8 ounces marzipan (see headnote)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 7- or 8-inch square baking pan with butter, and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Combine the 8 tablespoons of butter, the sugar, eggs, flours, baking powder and almond extract in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until smooth, stopping to scrape down the bowl, as needed.

Spoon half the batter into one side of the cake pan as neatly as possible. If you're using a pan divider, place it up against the exposed side of the batter.

Add a few drops of red food coloring to the remaining batter, blending it in to create a deep pink color. Spoon the pink batter into the other side of the cake pan. If you're not using a divider, try to create an even and discrete line between the colors of batter. Smooth the surface of each half.

Bake (middle rack) for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is well risen, springy to the touch and has shrunk slightly from the sides of the pan. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling completely on a wire rack.

Trim the edges as needed to end up with a 7-inch square cake, then cut each colored half of the cake into 2 equal sections of equal size (for a total of 4).

Gently heat the apricot jam in a small saucepan over low heat until it's fairly fluid and spreadable. Use an offset spatula to spread the warmed jam on the facing sides of one pink section and one yellow section, then press them together to form the bottom layer. Next, spread a layer of jam on their combined top surface. Then spread jam on the inside edge of the remaining yellow section and place it atop the bottom pink section; repeat with the remaining pink section, placing it atop the bottom yellow section and pressing it up against the top pink section, to form a checkerboard effect.

(At this point, the cake can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature or frozen.)

For final assembly, brush the top of the cake with apricot jam.

Roll out the marzipan into an oblong the length of the cake and sufficiently wide enough to wrap around the cake with a little margin for error, about 9 by 12 inches. Invert the cake onto the marzipan (jam side down), then brush the remaining three sides with apricot jam. Press the marzipan neatly around the cake so the seam ends up at one corner. Trim any excess marzipan and cut a very thin slice off each end of the cake for a neat edge.

Use a sharp paring knife to score the top of the cake with a crisscross quilted pattern.

Rate it

Recipe Source

Adapted from "Mary Berry's Baking Bible: Over 250 Classic Recipes," by Mary Berry (BBC Books, 2009).

Tested by Becky Krystal and Kara Elder.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at food@washpost.com.