The Prince of Battenberg was a rather illustrious man. A lover, a singer, a fighter. He protected the Earth from dragons and giant spiders and aliens from outer space. Yes, he did, why do you think we can’t find any of these things nowadays?
How did he do it, you might ask?
Apart from his mighty constitution, he subsisted solely on Battenberg cake. And he had a shield with a battenberg design on it. When he was ready for battle, he would close his eyes and crouch behind his shield. The sign of the battenberg would then shoot out of his shield like a laser (think Captain Planet with only 2 colours), and it became a giant multicoloured light sabre. He was then able to yield it like a mega-sword.
As Battenberg cake was the source of his special powers, I thought it was prudent to learn to make one.
If you want the real story of the Prince of Battenberg, you can find it on Wikipedia here. I think mine is more interesting. Though even without his super batten-sabre, Prince Louis was apparently a pretty successful fellow.
Seriously, don’t let other websites fool you into thinking this cake is rocket science. If you can roll out pastry (like make cookie-cutter biscuits and apple pie) then you can totally do this. It’s a cut and paste job, and the marzipan is pretty easy to roll out with a rolling pin.
I used the almond sponge recipe off BBC (tweaked to suit what I had in the kitchen), though any almond sponge will do.
Note that the cake gets better after a few days as the flavours meld. I don’t like almond cake, but I have it on good authority.
140g self raising flour – or normal flour with an extra 2 teasp of baking powder
150g brown sugar
175g butter, softened
1/2 teasp vanilla extract
1/2 teasp almond extract
Red food colouring
Yellow food colouring
Oven temperature: 180 degrees C for around half an hour.
Yield: 1 20cm square cake tin, split into two for the 2 colours.
- Dump all the ingredients in a food processer and mix until smooth. Wasn’t that easy?
- Divide into 2 bowls. Colour one bowl pink and the other yellow. As you can see, I added a bit too much food colouring. This affects cooking time, if you add very little then check whether it’s done at about 25 minutes.
- Grease your baking tin. Cut 2 sheets of baking paper to the size of the tin. Fold them in such a way that you get 2 “pockets” for your batter in the cake tin. Make sure you score the corners with the back of a spoon, else your cake won’t have sharp edges and you’ll end up wasting *even more* cake. Fit these 2 pockets into the cake tin (see the picture above if you think I sound crazy).
- Pour each colour of cake mix into one of the pockets. Don’t worry, they won’t mix – the batter is pretty thick.
- Bake, and leave to cook thoroughly.
I like to build it build it
A pink bar cake – you just made these cakes, you clever fellow
A yellow bar cake
About 500g of marzipan
A few tablespoons of smooth apricot jam
- Stack your bar cakes one on top of the other. Using a sharp knife, cut off the edges so they stack together nicely. Then, cut them in half and switch the top and bottom layers on one side so you get a chequerboard pattern of pink and yellow (see pics above if you’re confused).
- Heat up some jam in the microwave so it goes a bit runny. Use the runny jam to stick your 4 strips of cake together. You can be pretty generous with the jam.
- Powder a surface with a little icing sugar (I did this on a chopping board to minimise mess). Roll out your marzipan, to a size large enough such that you can wrap the 4 strips of cake in it. You don’t want the marzipan to thin or it won’t be able to hold the cake together.
- Paint runny jam all over the marzipan.
- Roll the cake into the marzipan, trying to keep the marzipan as tight as possible. Once the edges meet, trim the marzipan with a knife so it sits flush with the corner of the cake.
- Pinch all the way along the bottom two corners of the cake with your fingers, no one will see this because it’s at the bottom of the cake. Try not to be too violent though.
- Roll the cake back right-side up again. Slice off the two ends of the cake so it becomes a nice even cuboid, covered with marzipan on all sides except the ends.
- Decorate as you will, sir.