With the weather growing cooler and the nights drawing in, I decided to give an autumnal twist to the tea-time classic: Battenberg cake. You may have already seen my more summery miniature versions from a few weeks ago. Battenberg cake is a favourite of mine for experimenting, since the basic recipe for the cake itself is extremely easy to whip up and very compatible for trying out with different flavour combinations. This version uses maple flavouring, praline paste and some figs I found in the refrigerator!
Lining the Cake Tin for Battenberg Cake
Probably the most difficult part of the whole recipe is lining the baking tin to produce two roughly equal sized cakes side by side. You could use loaf tins instead, but mine are a bit too large and have rounded edges, which isn't ideal for the trimming during assembly. I also find this challenge part of the fun of the Battenberg. Using aluminium foil, I create a liner for a 9" (about 22cm) square tin, which divides the tin down the centre. Then I use sheets of parchment paper to line the two sides in preparation for the cake batter. I find it is useful for the pieces of parchment to overhang a bit as it makes removing the cakes much easier at the end of the baking.
Making the Cakes
Once the lining and pan prep is complete, the batter itself is extremely straightforward. In a large bowl beat together butter, sugar, self-raising flour, baking powder and ground almonds. Add eggs and incorporate. I opt for beating them in one at a time, but honestly all three could probably be added at once! Beat until batter is well combined and smooth.
At this point, you will need to divide the plain batter equally into two separate bowls for flavouring. You should put roughly 320g in each. In one bowl, add praline paste (I used my candied maple pecan paste) and in the second, maple flavouring. Beat each until well combined.
Pour the batters into the two sides of the baking tin and smooth evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes until a skewer inserted near the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Due to the nature of the foil divider, test the cakes near the central dividing liner, not the centre of the individual cakes. Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes. Then remove to cool further on a wire rack.
Battenberg Cake Assembly
Trimming to Size
Now it's time for assembly! Most people I've met seem to think that Battenbergs are difficult because of the assembly. Yes it is a bit fiddly, there is a fair bit of trimming and levelling, but honestly, don't be put off! Lots of recipes will show people carefully measuring with rulers to line and level exactly. It is just as easy and precise to use the two cakes themselves as guides. To ensure that you are working with equal cakes, simply stack these and trim the sides to match each other. Similarly, setting the cakes next to each other will enable you to cut levelly across the top. This will help to ensure they are closely equal in height. Finally, re-stacking, simply cut in half along the length, taking care to be as even as possible.
Once your cakes are sliced and prepared, alternate the pieces into the classic checkerboard pattern. Heating fig jam, spread this on the cake slices to ensure these stick together. I made my jam from fresh figs that I found forgotten in my refrigerator. If you are making fresh fig jam, chop up about 150g of figs and added 130g of jam sugar (sugar with added pectin). Cook this in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens. It is useful to use a thermometer to check it reaching about 105C for it to set.
Encasing in Marzipan
The last step is to encase your Battenberg into marzipan. Dust a work surface with sifted icing sugar and roll out the marzipan to about .5cm thickness. This will need to be wide enough to wrap around the cake. Spread jam on the top of the cake and flip this onto the prepared marzipan. Spread more jam along the marzipan and then enclose around the cake, pressing firmly to ensure it is well sealed. Trim the ends to remove excess and to provide the classic Battenberg look.
Decorating an Autumnal Battenberg Cake
You can then use any excess marzipan for decoration. I used some fondant presses in the shape of leaves and acorns to press out designs. I then painted these with a little food colouring gel.
Maple Praline Battenberg with Fig Jam
- 160 g unsalted butter, softened
- 175 g caster sugar
- 140 g self-raising flour
- 50 g ground almonds
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoon praline paste
- 2 teaspoon maple flavouring
- 500 g marzipan
- powdered icing sugar, for dusting
- fig jam for assembly
- food colouring gel for decoration
- Preheat oven to 180C/160C Fan (350°F) and prepare a 20cm (9″) square pan for your battenberg cake baking. The easiest way to do this is to use aluminium foil to create a divider in your pan, so that you will have two roughly equal cakes in one tin. Then line the two spaces with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and ground almonds. Add the eggs, beating each in one at a time. Mix until you have a smooth batter.
- Divide evenly into two separate bowls – roughly 320g each.
- In one bowl, add the praline paste and beat to incorporate. In the second, add maple flavouring and beat to combine.
- Pour the batters into the two sides of your cake tin and bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Check both cakes at a point near the centre of the tin.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for about half an hour before removing from the tin.
- For assembly, trim the tops and sides of the cakes to be even. Then slice the cakes each in half length-wise and stack these in the classic checkerboard pattern.
- Heat fig jam until easily spreadable and use this to stick together the cake slices.
- Roll out the marzipan until about .5cm thick and wide enough to wrap around the cake. Spreading the jam on the marzipan, wrap this around the cake and press to firmly enclose.
- Finally trim the ends to remove the excess marzipan and even the cake into the classic Battenberg look. Use this excess marzipan and food colouring to decorate the top of the cake.