I have something to confess, until this cake, I’ve never actually had a battenberg. I’m sure you can see a bit of a running theme here. I was a pretty fussy eater. So there’s a lot I haven’t eaten! I was never a fan of marzipan, that strong artificial taste of almond is horrid. I love almonds themselves but there’s something about essence and extract that just make my tongue curl up.
When asked what he wanted for his birthday, Richard came out with battenberg. He’d asked a few times, but I wasn’t interested, but given it was his birthday request, I couldn’t say no could I and this was a handy bake for our camping trip away.
So given my strong dislike for almond flavours, I needed to take a careful approach with this one. I’ve got no time for marzipan, so how about trying to make it myself, surely it was going to be better? Literally a completely different marzipan experience, and now having made my own, I like, and maybe even love marzipan! Mission accomplished.
There really is no comparison between homemade and shop bought, I hated marzipan before having a go at this, but I found myself munching away as I made my own, so I highly recommend having a go at your own if you’re a marzipan skeptic like me.
Make a standout battenberg with a homemade marzipan that completely beats anything shop bought in this apricot battenberg recipe
- 175 g unsalted butter
- 175 g caster sugar
- 140 g self-raising flour
- 60 g almond flour
- 3 eggs
- 0.75 tsp baking powder
- 0.5 tsp vanilla extract, bean or paste
- 0.25 tsp almond extract optional
- food colouring optional
- jar of apricot jam
- dried apricots
- 120 g icing sugar extra for kneading
- 120 g golden caster sugar
- 260 g ground almonds
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 1 tsp brandy optional
Sift the icing sugar and caster sugar into a bowl - one suitable for sitting above a pan of simmering water. Put a pan of water on the heat and get it barely simmering, too hot and the eggs will scramble
Add the egg to the bowl and then whisk the mixture for roughly 10 minutes until you have something thick and fluffy in texture
Remove from the heat and then add in the brandy if you're using and then allow the mixture to cool but keep whisking it gently
Once cooled slightly you can add in the ground almonds, dust a surface with icing sugar and then knead the mixture to form a firm pastey ball
Wrap and chill until needed
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and prepare the tin according to the notes below
In a mixing bowl, add the flour, butter, sugar, ground almonds, eggs, extracts and baking powder - this cake works fine with the all in one mixing method. Beat together the ingredients until it's smooth
Split the mix into two if you're colouring them and then add the colouring - remember bake safe colouring, lots of colouring now will disappear once baked, like mine, the batter was a neon pink and I got an orange cake, which in this case, worked out much nicer
Pour the batters into separate parts of the makeshift divided tin and then bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Then allow to cool in the tin for a short while before moving onto a wire rack
Once the cakes are cooled, trim them down to size so they're equal rectangles. Leftover sponge can be frozen and used as a crumb coating on other cakes - no wasting please!
Roll out the marzipan long enough in length and wide enough so that it'll cover the cake
Warm the jam up a little so it's easier to spread. Brush the jam onto the marzipan; I chopped up some more dried apricots and put them in the jam
Lay two layers of cake alongside on another - different colours - and make sure you get plenty of jam between the layers sides. Then get some more jam and spread on the top of the layers and then add the last two cake layers ontop making sure you alternate them to give them a checkerboard effect
Trim the marzipan to the length of the cakes and then carefully lift the marzipan and smooth over the cake using your hands
Transfer to a plate or stand with the marzipan joint on the bottom and then throw on some apricots and mint leaves - the mint surprisingly really complimented the apricot!
Using a 20cm/8in square tin. I used some cardboard and greaseproof paper to create a division in the tin; so cut a piece of cardboard long enough so that it'll wedge into the tin creating a divider, cover this in tinfoil and wedge into the middle then greaseproof/baking paper line the rest of the tin; The Daring Kitchen has some great pictured instructions if my waffling does no help!
I went for the cooked method for the marzipan simply because I wanted to ensure the eggs were stable given that we were off camping, and given the morning moisture that comes with camping I didn't want to take any chances. Typically the high sugar content of marzipan works as a preventative for bacteria to develop at room temperature so you'll generally be alright with the uncooked method which requires you to just mix the above together and knead into a ball, chill to stiffen and use when need, the uncooked method tends to be easier to work with than the cooked counterpart.
I sliced the cake up and froze half of it - which comes in handy for throwing in to our bags on a long cycle for a tasty energy boost! It'll keep well for a month.