I've always been slightly puzzled by the battenberg cake - the structure, the colour, marzipan - to me this cake always felt like something that was invented in 70s. So, I was quite surprised to find out that this cake was actually invented in the 80s, ehm...the 1880s!
Battenberg Cake was originally created to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria's granddaughter, princes Victoria, to Prince Louis of Battenberg in 1884. The four squares in the cake represented the four Battenberg princes - Louis, Alexander, Henry and Francis Joseph. I like it as an idea, but I'm not quite sure what princes Victoria felt like on her wedding day, surely she was marrying just one brother?
This cake can be a challenge to make, but hopefully my step by step guide will help you to achieve a perfect result, worth any royal wedding.
Battenberg Cake Recipe
175g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
175 self-raising flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp pink food colouring
For the covering
6 tablespoons apricot jam
And here is what you do:
Preheat your oven to 190C (gas mark 5) and grease and line your cake tin. It's best to use a square tin for this. Divide the tin down the centre with a double strip of baking parchment or greased foil.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until page and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs until the mixture is smooth. Sift in the flour, then add the vanilla extract and stir the mixture together well. Put half the mixture into a separate bowl and add the almond extract and pink food colouring and stir.
Spoon the pink mixture onto one side of the divided tin and the yellow mixture into the other side. Smooth over the surfaces and bake for about 25 minutes or until the sponges have risen and are springy to the touch.
Cool in the tin for five minutes and then place on a wire rack to cool completely. If the sponges rise unevenly you can always level them by slicing the top off when completely cool.
Place one cake on the top of the other and trim away the crusty edges so they are both the same size. Cut the sponges in half lengthways to make four long, rectangular cakes.
Warm the apricot jam in a pan or microwave and brush the long side of one of the cakes with the jam. Sandwich it together with a cake of contrasting colour. Repeat the process with the other two cakes.
Sandwich the two pairs of cakes together like a chequer board and then brush the top and sides with jam.
On a surface dusted lightly with icing sugar, roll out the marzipan into a rectangle roughly 40cm x 20cm, large enough to wrap the cake completely, leaving the ends exposed. Turn the battenberg cake upside down on the marzipan and brush the underside with jam.
Wrap the marzipan around the cake, smoothing it gently over the surface of the sponge. Press the edges together to make a firm seam. Place on a serving place with the seam side underneath the cake to hide any imperfection.
As as said before this battenberg cake recipe is quite complex, so I'm not pretending I'm making this every week. It really is for a special occasion and only baked once in a while in our house. Still definitely worth the effort!
I really like to know how you get on if you bake your own version, so do let me know in the comments below.