So many people are put off making Battenberg cakes because they think the assembly will be complex. But, with some tips for an easy DIY Battenberg cake tin, this cake is really super simple!
What is a Battenberg Cake
So a Battenberg cake is a classic British chequered cake. It is normally presented in a long loaf, wrapped in marzipan.
Traditionally the cake is made up of two colours of sponge - pink and yellow, flavoured with almond and vanilla. These are sandwiched together with apricot jam in a simple four piece chequerboard and covered in a layer of marzipan.
The cake is served in square slices to show off the chequered pattern.
While the specifics of flavours and colours are open to change, the key to a Battenberg is the pattern. This means that you generally need to have two different colours of sponge cake, which you can easily make into the chequerboard.
Where does the name Battenberg cake come from?
The Battenberg cake was named in honour of the marriage of Prince Louis of Battenberg to Princess Victoria (one of Queen Victoria's granddaughters) in the late 19th century, though its origins as a recipe are disputed.
Battenberg refers to a town in Germany and an aristocratic family whose titles were associated to the region. This same Battenberg family of the 19th century would later became known as Mountbatten in the UK. Many will be familiar with the name through Philip Mountbatten, husband of Queen Elizabeth II.
Making a Battenberg Cake Pan
This is not a recipe post, but instead a how to. The process of making a Battenberg cake requires one very specific how to guide - how to make a Battenberg cake tin.
You can bake a Battenberg in a few different ways - you can even buy special trays specifically for the cake. But the easiest and most cost effective way is to make your own cake pan for the occasion!
What you'll need
You'll need the following equipment for a Battenberg tin:
- 8" or 9" square baking pan - I like to use my brownie pan, which is about 8" (20cm). You'll want this to be square with sharp edges, not rounded. If you use a rounded edge pan, you'll be forced to waste more cake in order to trim it to a nice sharp pattern.
- Aluminium foil - a long piece of foil, ideally from a roll that is at least as wide as your pan (most are about 12"). The piece of foil you will use should be roughly 20" long.
- Parchment paper or wax paper - you'll need a few pieces for lining the tray once you've fashioned the tin.
Process for a DIY Battenberg Cake Tin
Aluminium Foil Liner
In order to make your own cake tin for a Battenberg, start with your aluminium foil.
- Begin by folding this to fit the width of your baking tin. Your goal is to have a long rectangle of foil, about 20" long by 8" wide (or as wide as your square baking pan). I do this by creating an overlapping fold near the middle and adjusting to the width required. You could also just fold in the edges to fit - whatever you find easier.
- Next, fold this long piece of foil in half - to make a 10"x8" sheet. The crease will become your divider.
- Place this over the centre of your baking tin and then pull out the two sides of foil to line the base and sides of the baking tin either side of the divider. Ensure that the divider comes up to the top of the tray. Press this firmly into the creases of the tin and smooth this into place (see the video below).
Once you've created the foil lined divider, you have essentially fashioned your own DIY Battenberg cake tin. Check with a ruler that the divider is in the middle (or at least near to it!) as you'll want the cakes to be as even as possible.
Lining with Parchment
Then, line each side with parchment paper.
For the easiest method of removing the cake once baked, begin by lining each side with a long piece of parchment paper. These are best as two strips roughly 15" long and 4" wide. My parchment paper roll is approximately 15" wide, so I simply use this as the length and rip two 4" strips.
Place these into the two sides of the tray and crease into the corners. Use some butter to help them stick down if needed.
The long edges should overhang the tray by an inch or so and can be used at the end of baking to lift the cakes out.
Finally, use a strip of parchment about 15" wide by 8" long. Fold this in half, so that you have two 7" x 8" rectangles and line criss cross the long parchment liner you've already put in place. These two shorter rectangles should fit inside the sides of the tray and cover the base and the wider sides.
Some Other Options for Baking Battenbergs
There are a couple of other cake tin options for Battenbergs:
- Make two Battenbergs at once. You can avoid creating the liner described above by simply making two square cakes (one full 8" square per flavour/colour). The downside is that this would mean baking two 8" squares. You will then slice these into four strips rather than just two and pairing them up into two chequerboard cakes. This isn't necessarily a problem if you're a Battenberg lover or want to freeze one of the cakes. But, it will mean doubling the cake recipe.
- Using loaf pans. This works best if you have a loaf pan with squared off edges. You want to have nice crisp edges to the cakes. The drawback of using loaf pans is that these tend not to be squared off and often slope a bit. They're often also a bit larger than you might want. So, you're likely to have a bit more trouble trimming and sizing. This also requires two tins.
- Use a multi-size cake divider pan. These are special baking tins that can be set to different sizes. If you're planning to make a lot of square or rectangular bakes in a variety of sizes, these pans can definitely be worth the cost outlay. But, if you're making just the occasional Battenberg, its still easier to make your own DIY version. The divider pan will still require setting to size and lining thoroughly.
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