The Journal | Made in Piccadilly


Battenberg

Battenberg Cake



Some say it was created to celebrate the marriage of Princess Victoria to Prince Louis of Battenberg in 1884. Others claim it was invented in the Prussian village of Battenberg. Yet another group argues it is simply an English cake, named Church Window, which had been around for years before being rechristened.

But wherever it originated, one thing is for certain: we've been making our Battenberg cake at our Piccadilly home - and serving it up with our famous Afternoon Tea - since 1926.

Until recently, our recipe for this divine and divided cake was a closely-guarded secret. Now proudly published within the pages of our The Cook Book, it is available for all to enjoy. Happy baking, eating, and if you can manage it, sharing.


Ingredients


Makes a 20cm cake

30g unsalted butter; 150g plain flour; 5 medium eggs; 150g caster sugar; 1 vanilla pod; yellow food colouring; red food colouring; 1/3-1/2 jar of apricot jam; icing sugar, for dusting; 500g marzipan


Recipe


Melt the butter over a low heat, then set aside. Sift the flour into a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar with an electric beater until they are pale, thick and greatly increased in volume; the mixture should be thick enough to leave a trail on the surface when the whisk is lifted. In three separate additions, sift the flour over the surface and fold it in with a large metal spoon, being careful to knock as little of the air out of the mixture as possible. Drizzle the melted butter around the edge of the mixture and fold that in too.

Transfer half the mixture to a separate bowl. Split the vanilla pod open lengthwise, scrape out the seeds into one of the bowls and fold them in. Then fold a drop of yellow good colouring into the vanilla mixture. Fold a drop of red food colouring into the mixture in the second bowl to give a pale pink colour.

Butter and flour a Battenberg tin and spoon the pink mixture into two of the sections and the yellow mixture into the others. If you don't have a Battenberg tin, use a small rectangular baking tin, roughly 20cm x 16cm and position a strip of waxed card lengthwise down the centre to separate the mixtures. Put the pink on one side and the vanilla on the other. Place in an oven heated to 160C/Gas Mark 3 and bake for 20 minutes, until the sponge is well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

Run a knife around the edge of the tin and along the dividers. Carefully remove the strips of cake. Trim the tops with a serrated knife, if necessary, so they are flat. If you used an ordinary rectangular tin, cut each piece of cake lengthwise in half and trim as necessary; you need 4 long blocks that are exactly the same size.

Gently heat the apricot jam and strain though a fine sieve. Brush apricot jam along a long side of one pink and one yellow piece of sponge and place side by side, pressing them gently together so that they stick. Brush the tops with jam. Place the remaining pieces of sponge on top to create a chequerboard pattern, sticking them together with jam as before. If they don't all match up perfectly, trim the sides.

Dust a work surface with a little icing sugar and roll the marzipan out into a rectangle about 4mm thick. The width should be the same as the length of the cake and it should be long enough to wrap round it. Neaten the edges with a knife and brush the marzipan with the remaining warm jam.

Place the cake at one end of the marzipan, right on the edge. Carefully roll it up, smoothing the marzipan on gently as you go. Trim away any surplus, making sure the join is well sealed. Place with the join underneath and brush off any icing sugar. Trim the short ends of the cake. Lightly score the top with a sharp knife to make a diamond pattern.
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