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Chocolate vanilla battenburg cake

November 4, 2011

I confess I am more than a little bit intimidated by The Great British Bake Off (a recent baking competition shown on TV). Nevertheless, I have the next series’ application form saved on my desktop, if just for the fun of filling it in. CV-shmeevy, I say. It seems much more fun to spend time this weekend answering important points such as “Do you have a signature bake?” Or “Please give an example of the most difficult…tart…you have created”. You may be beginning to see why conquering pastry is higher up on my things to do list than usual.

Each episode of this show, in any case, involves a technical bake. This is a challenge each person has to undertake – tackling a recipe they have only just seen, with basically no instructions save the ingredients list. The first episode was cake and the first technical guessed it. Battenburg cake. Coffee and walnut in this case. You can see the actual recipe on

Of course, not being content just to follow the non-recipe, I also decided to change the flavours from coffee and walnut (itself a diversion from the orignal pink-and-white version) to chocolate/walnut and vanilla. I also made my own marzipan (use bought marzipan?? Oh my garden). I also decide to ignore the tin dimensions (20cm square) and use my 22cm square tin, so my cake was a bit erm flat. But don’t worry, follow the instructions here, and all shall be well. At least there ARE instructions this time…


  • 80 g SR flour (+ 10g more, you’ll see)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 10g cocoa
  • 100g sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 50 g ground almonds
  • 25 g chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
For the chocolate buttercream
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 40 g butter
  • milk, if needed
For the marzipan (or buy a pack ready-made, sigh)
  • 85g icing sugar , plus extra for dusting
  • 85 g castor sugar
  • 120g ground almonds
  • 1/2 egg plus 1/2 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp almond essence


Preheat the oven to 180 oc / gas mark 5. Grease a 20cm square cake tin. To line, instead of buying the silly expensive half-foil-half-baking paper they suggest, try greasing one side of baking paper wide enough for the base of the tin and the same length plus double the height (usually give youtself an extra 4-5 inches). Carefully stick a piece of tin foil to the greased paper and smooth. This has now given you reinforced baking paper! Now use this to line the tin, as shown in the picture above, with a partition in the centre of the tin to separate what will be the two different flavours of cake.

Ok next to make the batter, you will need several bowls. In the first, large, mixing bowl, cream together all the butter, sugar, essence, and then stir in the ground almonds. Sift over the 80g SR flour and baking powder, then on top add the beaten eggs. Mix quickly till smooth, then move half to a separate bowl. To this, sift over the cocoa and mix, then fold in the walnuts. To the other, sift over the extra 10g flour. Add a little milk to both or either bowl if the mixture feels too stiff (it should drop off the spoon with a sharp tap). Pour each mixture into a different section of the tin, and bake for around 20 mins or until the cakes are risen and spring back when pressed. Leave to cool a while in the tin, before turning onto a wire cooling rack.

While the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream by using an electric mixer to combine the cocoa, butter and icing sugar, using a little milk if the consistency is too thick. When the sponge is done, cut each colour in half, to make two rectangles. Trim them if needed to make sure all are the same size. Use the buttercream to now sandwich all four pieces together in a checkerboard pattern, spreading buttercream between each join. Trim again, and then spread more buttercream over the entire length and sides of the battenburg.

Finally, make the marzipan. Sift together the sugars and almonds, then beat the egg and stir in along with the essence. Bring the mixture together with your hands, then turn out onto a surface dusted with icing sugar, and knead until smooth. Roll out the marzipan until it is fairly thin, with dimensions that are the same length as your cake and wide enough to wrap round the entire battenburg (you can use a piece of string to estimate how long this is). When the correct size, wrap the cake in the marzipan, which should stick thanks to the buttercream you applied. If you were greedy and ate too much buttercream this may now be trickier. Gently press the join together and turn the cake over so that the seam is the underside of the cake. To finish, dust with icing sugar and top with minstrels or walnuts. Done!

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 7, 2012 1:02 pm

    Thank you for your recipe! I’ve just discovered the ‘Great British Bake off’ after a recent trip to the UK. I was planning to tweak Mary Berry’s Battenburg Cake recipe by replacing the coffee flavor with chocolate for my chocoholic husband. I thought I’d do a quick internet search in case some baking genius had already worked it out. I was very happy to come across your blog! I’ll let you know how the cake turns out!

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