Battenberg cake has been on my baking bucket list for a while – I’d seen their distinctive checkerboard form before, but it was likely the charm of a GBBO episode which really piqued my interest.
This one is a chocolate and sumac-rose version, the pink colour from sumac bloomed in a bit of hot water. Together with the chocolate, it’s a flavour combination that is quite inclusive of the marzipan, which jives nicely with both the chocolate and rosewater.
It’s not the tidiest or most canonically-proportioned Battenberg, but I’m still pleased with what I ended up with! This cake is the sort of semi-precise finicky thing that I tend to mess up. Given that it has some resemblance, I decided I’m posting it as a matter of record as I may not attempt another Battenberg for a long time…
Lest it sound like putting together the Battenberg was a soul-sucking process, it actually went well and predictably (relatively speaking – I am complacent and would not survive as a baking perfectionist).
As the cake needs to be cut into squares, I was limited by the height of the cake, which ended up only rising to around 3-cm once trimmed and evened out (the rose sumac cake rose less than the chocolate cake, so the chocolate one had to be trimmed to match the shorter ones height). Luckily I prefer making smaller cakes anyways.
The marzipan rolled out quite neatly and was easy enough to roll around the cake without any cracking. It is marzipan is quite sweet though – I probably should have rolled it thinner.
Other recipes I saw used a greater amount of cake batter for the same size pan, so if you’d like to ensure you can end up with a bit of a larger cake than what I made (6x6cm only), I would increase the proportion of batter.
rose, sumac and chocolate battenberg cake
- 85g a.p. flour
- 40g whole wheat flour
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 125g soft butter
- 65g granulated sugar
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp sumac (the finer it is, the more colour released) mixed with 1 1/2 tsp boiling water
- 2 tsp rose water – will depend on the strength of your rose water
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp hot coffee or water
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 oz dark chocolate, melted
- 200g marzipan
- apricot jam – warmed with a little bit of water and then pressed through a strainer
Prepare an 8 by 8″ or 20x20cm pan by constructing a central divider and lining it with parchment paper (alternatively, butter and flour the pan). For some reason I was adamant that I must line the pan and divide it in half all using one sheet of parchment so I devised the following below (note folds and cuts). But there are simpler cleverer ways…
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Whisk together the flours, salt and baking powder and set aside.
Cream the butter with the sugar until light in colour. Whisk together the eggs in a small bowl and add a bit at a time to the butter, beating in each addition thoroughly until smooth. Switch from a wooden spoon to a whisk as needed. A couple of spoonfuls of flour can be added if the butter starts to look curdled. Add the flour mixture and combine with a wooden use.
Use a scale to divide the batter evenly in half.
For the rose sumac half, combine the sumac and boiling water to help release some of the colour – I let this sit on the counter to cool and infuse while making the cakes. Mix this and the rosewater into one half of cake batter half until smooth.
For the chocolate half, whisk together the coffee, cocoa powder and additional 1/8 tsp salt. Mix this and the melted chocolate into the other half of the cake batter.
Spread each half of the batter into their respective half of the divided cake pan. Use an offset spatula to try to achieve as even a layer as possible and make sure all the corners are filled. I did make the level of cake batter around the edges slightly higher to try for a more even rise during baking.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until an inserted skewer is removed clean and the cakes are springy and risen. Let cool completely.
Cut each cake lengthwise into two square logs that are all the same size. I found that I was limited by the height of the sponge, which after I trimmed to make it approximately even, ended up being only around 3-cm. Thus, I trimmed each cake into two square logs of 3x3cm and 15cm long (only 15cm long as I cut off the stouter [<3cm] edges to obtain as long as length of cake as I could that was still 3cm tall).
Depending on the size of the cake you’ve trimmed, calculate the dimensions the marzipan needs to be rolled to. As my cake logs were 15-cm long, one dimension of the marzipan was 15cm. The perimeter of the cake would be 24cm (3+3cm being the side length), so I rolled the other dimension of the marzipan to around 28cm to give myself a bit extra. Before rolling out the marzipan, give it a quick knead to help soften it. Roll out the marzipan on a sheet of parchment paper and patch up any cracks.
Warm around 1/3 of a cup of apricot jam (may vary depending on how big your cake ended up being) with a little splash of water in a small saucepan and press through a strainer.
To assemble the cake, brush the bottom of one cake log with apricot jam and place along the short 15-cm edge of the marzipan. Take a cake log of the other colour, brush the bottom and side with apricot jam and place next to the first log. Place the remaining two logs of cake on top to complete the checkerboard pattern, brushing each edge that touches another log of cake with the apricot jam.
Now brush the outside of the cake with apricot jam (except each end with the checkerboard pattern). Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake over to cover it with the marzipan. Trim off any excess marzipan and press to seal. Cut a thin slice off of each end to make the ends neat.