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Battenberg cakes are a British classic! The traditional flavour is almond with a chequerboard pattern of yellow and pink. For a modern upgrade to this classic cake, this chocolate Battenberg cake will not disappoint! Assembled with chocolate ganache and marzipan, this easy chocolate Battenberg is perfect for a tea time treat.
Ingredients for Chocolate Battenberg Cake
For the cakes, you'll need:
- Butter - unsalted butter, softened at room temperature.
- Sugar - either caster sugar or superfine granulated sugar.
- Flour - plain or all-purpose flour work best in this recipe. You can use self-rising flour, but will need to adjust the leavening agent (remove 2 teaspoons of baking powder from the recipe).
- Baking powder
- Ground almonds or almond flour
- Cocoa powder
- Boiling water
- Vanilla bean paste - you can substitute with vanilla extract instead, but the vanilla bean paste will add an extra punch of vanilla.
Ingredients for Assembly
Once baked, you'll need a couple of extra ingredients in order to assemble. This chocolate Battenberg is sandwiched with ganache and then wrapped in the traditional marzipan.
You'll need the following to make the ganache:
- Heavy (double) cream
- Chocolate - use either dark or semi-sweet chocolate, in chips or chopped fine.
And you'll also need 16oz (500g) marzipan or almond paste.
Making Chocolate Battenberg Cake Layers
A Battenberg is comprised of two different flavours (or at least colours) of cake, sandwiched in the chequered pattern. For this chocolate version - one cake will be chocolate and the other vanilla.
Despite this flavour difference, it is easiest to make the batter together, splitting it in half only towards the end when flavours (and/or colours) are added. This keeps your layers more even and makes it more possible to bake them together in a single DIY Battenberg cake pan. You can find more information on making your own Battenberg tin here.
Easy Almond Battenberg Batter
To make the base cake batter, cream together the butter and sugar. Then add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each.
Reserve 1 tablespoon of the flour and set aside. Sift the rest of the flour with the baking powder into the mixing bowl and add the ground almonds. Stir this to incorporate, making sure there are no pockets of unmixed flour.
Dividing and Flavouring
Now you'll need to divide your batter. The mixture should produce about 2½ cups total, so you can divide this into two roughly 1¼ cup portions.
In a small cup, mix the cocoa powder and boiling water until you have a paste. Add this to one of the bowls of cake batter and stir to combine.
In the second bowl, add the teaspoon of vanilla bean paste and the reserved tablespoon of flour. Stir to combine.
Pour each cake into one side of the Battenberg cake tin and bake in a preheated oven for about 25 minutes. To check on doneness, use a skewer inserted near the centre of each cake towards the central divider (where the foil separates the cakes).
Once baked, allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.
For easiest assembly and smoothest trimming, you'll want the cakes to cool completely before you begin. Let these set for about an hour. While you're waiting for the cakes to cool, you can make your ganache (see recipe note about timings).
Ganache for Battenberg
You don't need a lot of ganache for your Battenberg - only enough to spread a thin layer on your cake slices to make them stick together and stick to the marzipan.
Using a small saucepan, heat the cream over a medium heat until simmering. Allow this to simmer for a few minutes - you want it thoroughly warmed, but avoid boiling.
Pour this over top the chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Let this sit for about 2 minutes so that the chocolate begins to break down. Then until smooth.
Trimming Battenberg Cake for Slices
Once your hour is about up, begin by trimming the cakes to shape. This can be accomplished by stacking one on top of the other and trimming the two long sides to match. Leave the short sides for now as these can be best trimmed once you've wrapped the cake in marzipan.
Next make a slice down the length of the stacked cakes so that you have two strips of each cake one stacked on top of the other. On one side, swap the top piece of chocolate cake for the vanilla underneath - this will give you the chequerboard pattern.
Sandwiching and Wrapping in Marzipan
Now that you have your cake strips and the ganache, spread a thin layer along the sides of your cake slices. I like to start with the seam between the two bottom slices and work my way up. The key is to have a layer of ganache helping to stick these puzzle pieces of cake together.
Once you've formed your loaf, roll the marzipan out into a long rectangle. You are aiming for this to be a bit wider than the 8" long Battenberg loaf. It then needs to be long enough to wrap around the cake - 20" should be sufficient. You'll want the marzipan to be a relatively thin layer, no more than about ¼" thickness, but not so thin it tears.
Using ganache, spread a layer over the top of your Battenberg cake, then invert this, placing it upside down in the centre of the marzipan. Spread a layer of ganache over the sides and bottom (now facing up) of the cake and then gently fold the marzipan around the loaf, pressing firmly to the side to avoid a loose wrapping or air pockets.
Trim the marzipan as it meets so that this only overlaps a little on the base and press firmly to seal together. Flip the cake over and trim the two ends to make these nice straight edges.
FAQs for Chocolate Battenberg Cake
For best results, store this Battenberg at room temperature, wrapped in cling film. The marzipan will dry out if it is left open to the air. A layer of plastic wrap will help preserve this for longer. Wrapped, this cake can stay fresh and last several days.
If you want to make this in advance, chocolate Battenberg can be frozen. Simply wrap well in cling film and store in a freezer safe plastic bag. This cake can be frozen for a couple of months. Allow to defrost at room temperature before slicing and serving.
Another option for freezing Battenberg cake is to freeze the cake layers, prior to assembly. This will avoid any potential for the ganache and marzipan to sweat (which can sometimes happen during defrosting depending on the consistency of the ganache).
I'll always recommend using good quality cocoa powder and chocolate for any baking. If you're looking for specific recommendations, I usually use Green & Blacks or Guittard.
For the ganache, you don't have to stick to dark chocolate or semi-sweet, you can change this up dependent on your preference. Milk chocolate or even white chocolate can make excellent ganaches.
If you like this recipe, try another Battenberg flavour:
Or go in for more chocolate:
Chocolate Battenberg Cake
- ¾ cup unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- ¾ cup superfine granulated sugar or caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup all purpose flour or plain flour
- 2½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup ground almonds or almond flour
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon boiling water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
Ingredients for Ganache and Assembly
- 2 oz dark chocolate or semi sweet chocolate chips or chopped into small pieces
- ¼ cup heavy cream or double cream
- 16 oz marzipan or almond paste
- Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F (175C/155C Fan) and preparing your baking tray. See further instructions for a DIY Battenberg cake tray here
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.
- Reserve a tablespoon of flour, placing it in a small bowl and set aside. Sift the rest of the flour into the mixing bowl along with the baking powder and add the ground almonds. Stir the batter together well, ensuring no pockets of unmixed flour remain.
- Then divide the batter evenly into two smaller mixing bowls (roughly 1¼ cup each).
- In a small cup, stir together the cocoa powder and boiled water until it forms a paste. Add this to one of the mixing bowls of batter and fold through.
- Add the reserved tablespoon of flour and the vanilla bean paste to the second bowl of batter and fold to incorporate.
- Pour each batter into one of the sides of the Battenberg baking tray and bake in the centre of the preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Test with a toothpick or skewer inserted into the middle of the cake on either side if the divider.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely (or about an hour).
Instructions for Ganache
- To make the ganache, place the cream in a small saucepan over a medium heat and warm to simmering.
- Allow to simmer for a few minutes (avoid bringing to a boil), before pouring over the chopped chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl. Let this set for 2 minutes and then stir until smooth.
Instructions for Assembling
- Begin by trimming the cakes. This is best done by stacking one on top of the other to ensure the edges are cut and trimmed straight down the sides. Trim only the two long sides to start, you will trim the ends (short sides) once wrapped in marzipan.
- Next make a slice down the centre (lengthwise) through both cake layers so that you have four strips (2 vanilla and 2 chocolate - stacked on top of each other).
- Swap one layer of vanilla for one layer of chocolate to create the chequerboard.
- Using the ganache, spread a thin layer on the sides of the cake strips where they meet each other and stick these together to help solidify the cake loaf.
- Roll the marzipan out in a long rectangle about 9" wide and 20" long (about ¼" thick).
- Spread a layer of ganache over the top of the Battenberg cake and invert this over the middle of the marzipan so that the ganached top is facing down. Spread the remaining ganache over the sides and bottom (now facing up) of the Battenberg.
- Gently wrap the marzipan around the cake loaf. Press and smooth the marzipan to cover the sides and base, trimming excess on the base so that there is a slight overlap. Press this seam to seal shut and flip the Battenberg over so that the smooth cake top is facing up.
- Trim the two ends (short sides) of the Battenberg so that you remove excess marzipan and the ends of the cake, giving straight edges and revealing the chequerboard pattern.