Battenberg cake is a popular British cake that is often purchased instead of made. The cake is believed to have been developed in the 1880s for the marriage of the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Victoria, to Louis Alexander Mountbatten, also known as Prince Louis of Battenberg, Germany, although it was not sold commercially until the early 20th century. It’s difficult to describe Battenberg cake as anything other than pretty. It consists of four sections of sponge cake, two dyed pink and two yellow or white, which are put together in a checkered pattern. The cake layers are held together with apricot jelly or jam, and the whole cake usually is covered with either fondant or marzipan icing to hold the sections in place.
Not as Difficult as it Looks
The checkered pattern of Battenberg cakes might seem to be a difficult thing to make, but it actually is quite easy to accomplish. Battenberg cake can be made by taking two sponge cakes — one dyed pink and the other a yellow or white — and splitting them down the middle. They are then stacked alternately on each other to produce the checkered pattern.
The difficulty in producing the layered and checkered effect of Battenberg cake is making sure that both layers of cake are the same height. If they are not, the baker will end up with uneven checks that don’t meet precisely in the middle. Every cake rises just a little differently, so this problem can be addressed by trimming the taller cake to the size of the shorter cake to produce the uniform checkered pattern.
This cake's body is relatively sweet, as is the jam, so fondant is not considered to be the best choice for covering the Battenberg cake. To remain authentic, marzipan should be used. Its almond flavor is considered to complement the cake body and the apricot jam well.
Rare Outside the United Kingdom
It can be difficult to find Battenberg cake outside the United Kingdom. Shoppers might be able to locate a cake or two in specialty or import grocery stores in large cities outside the UK. For people who crave Battenberg cake but don't feel up to the challenge of making their own, it also can be ordered over the Internet from many sellers.
Popular on St. George's Day
This type of cake is a popular dessert in England on St. George’s Day, which is held on April 23 in honor of the patron saint of England. For centuries, St. George’s Day was a major holiday in England. Although the enthusiasm for the holiday as waned, there still is Battenberg cake on St. George’s Day — and for some people, that alone is reason to celebrate.