Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Battenburg Cake

Ever since Katie, Chloe and Liam had the opportunity to visit London last summer, we've been a little obsessed with all things English—from Chloe being in love with all the members of the boy band, One Direction, to Katie reading London travel guides and watching QI, to me becoming addicted to all the BBC shows on Masterpiece Theater. And, we can't wait till the London Olympics begin. We will watch every minute of it including sports I totally hate (weight lifting and boxing) or completely don't get (rhythmic gymnastics and dressage).

Each year for our Christmas Eve dinner, we eat dishes from another country. This year, we had a British feast. I made a Battenburg Cake for dessert. Now, as far as I know, this is not a typical Christmas dessert in England, but you can read the story of how we came to love this cake here. Sorry it's taken nearly five months to post this. Better late than never, I guess.

This cake was so amazing, I'm sure I'll make it again during the Olympics. In fact, I think I'll spread the spirit of the Olympic by trying and sharing lots of new recipes from across the pond. Stay tuned.

Battenburg Cake
adapted from SprinkleBakes


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1-2 tsp. milk 
  • 1 drop pink gel food coloring
  • 1 drop yellow gel food coloring
  • ½ cup apricot jam
  • ¾ lb.  marzipan  (approx. 1 ½ cups)
  • ¾ lb.  white fondant  (approx. 1 ½ cups)
  • Powdered sugar 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 7”x7” pans. Or, if you don’t have 7”x7” pans, you can do the following with a greased 10”x7”. Fold a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil in half, then, while folded,  trim the edges to fit the length of the pan.  Place the parchment inside the greased pan with the crease sticking up and running lengthwise to divide the pan into two parts. Smooth each side of the parchment or foil down into the pan, adhering it to the bottom.

In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in almond extract.  In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Gently add the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture, and stir on low speed until combined. Add milk if mixture is too dense. The batter will be thick but should spoon out easily.  Divide batter into two equal parts. Tint one portion of batter pink and the other green.  Spoon pink mixture into of the 7”x7” pans or one side of the divided 10”x7” pan, and green into the other pan or side.  Smooth it out as best you can. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean.  Turn cakes out onto a wire rack and let cool completely

Using a serrated knife, trim each cake evenly into long strips that are equally high as they are wide (4 for the 7”x7” pans and 2 for the 10”x7”).  Take two green cake pieces and two pink. Melt apricot jam and brush cakes on all sides with it.  Stack cakes together in two-by-two, creating a square of alternating colors.  On a piece of parchment, roll marzipan* thinly with a large rolling pin, making sure there is enough to completely cover the stacked cakes.  Roll stacked cake tightly in marzipan, pressing to secure the edges.

Dust work surface with confectioners' sugar and roll ready made fondant** into a large thin sheet. Make sure it is big enough to completely cover the cake.  Roll marzipan coated cake in fondant making sure the seam is placed at the bottom of the cake. Trim as needed.  Slice a small portion of cake off each side, removing the excess fondant and marzipan along with it.

You can stop there or continue decorating. I used the dull side of chef’s knife to put a crisscross pattern on top.

*For the marzipan, I purchased it at the grocery store. However, it's very easy to make if you have a food processor. There are lots of recipes on the internet.

**I have never used fondant before, and it was a bit tricky to get used to. I decided to make my own, and the recipe I used can be found here. In the end, it all worked out well.

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