Battenburg cake is a classic recipe that tastes so much better homemade than shop-bought. You also won’t believe just how easy it is to make yourself which will add to the wow factor when you serve it up to friends and family. Make sure you’ll gentle when you cut it so you get really neat, beautiful edges and once you’ve added the marzipan, you’ll have a masterpiece you’ll be really proud of! You might think it’s really complicated to make, especially given it’s chequered, but you’ll be surprised just how simple it is. You need to make sure you’re careful at each stage though, to make sure you get those perfect pink and yellow squares!
- 175g butter, softened
- 175g caster sugar
- 3 medium eggs
- 175g self-raising flour
- 2tbsp milk
- A few drops of red or pink liquid food colouring
- 10-12tbsp apricot glaze, or sieved apricot jam
- 350g white marzipan
- Icing sugar, for dusting
- 26 x 16.5cm (10¼ in x 6½ in) oblong tin, lined with baking parchment
Cut a piece of baking parchment the length of the tin and fold it in half, so that it’s just higher than the height of the tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, adding a dessert spoonful of flour with each egg to help prevent the mixture curdling. Fold in the remaining flour and the milk. Spoon half of the mixture into one half of the loaf tin, lengthways, and then place the strip of baking parchment in the tin, to keep the two colours of sponge separate during cooking.
Colour the remaining cake mixture pink with the food colouring and spoon into the other half of the tin. Level the surface of the cake, and bake in the centre of a preheated oven at 180°C (350ºF, gas mark 4) for 25-30 mins, or until well risen and firm to the touch in the centre. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 mins, then turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
Cut the cake in half lengthways to separate the two colours of cake, trimming away the long edges, and neatening lines where the cakes were touching, if necessary. Cut these strips in half again, to give four strips (two of each colour). Use a palette knife to spread a little apricot glaze/jam over the cake and stick them together in the chequerboard pattern. Roll the marzipan out on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar, to the length of the cake, and just over four times the width. Place the cake on the marzipan and roll the cake up in the marzipan, trimming away any excess at the join.
Use a small knife to mark a criss-cross pattern on top of the cake. Press a fork down the length of each side on the top to pattern it. Cut off both ends to neaten the cake before serving.
Top tip for making Battenburg cake
Stick any crumbly bits back together with jam before you add the marzipan: it's less likely to show than you'd think.