A Traditional Battenburg Cake

Saturday 9 January 2021

One cake which I fell totally in love with when I moved to the UK was the Traditional Battenburg Cake. This was not a cake which I had ever heard of prior to moving there.  

There really is no end to the varieties of traditional and regional cakes and goodies amongst those fertile green and septred isles!  With it's church window appearance, delicious texture and flavours, the Battenburg was one of my favourites.

After the holidays we are firmly entrenched in Winter, and with Covid, this year can be feeling especially depressing to you.  We are all stuck in our homes, and our natural freedoms have been somewhat curtailed, and for good reason.

We may find ourselves in need of a "Pick Me Up" maybe more than ever.  One thing I really like to do in the Winter months is to plan and prepare a small Tea Party, even if it is just for one or two people. 

A Tea Party is one way to perk up your days and bring a bit of sunshine into your life! Are we not all in need of a bit of a lift? 
 You don't need anything special, or a load of people to attend. Some of the best tea parties of all happen when there's just two of you, and I have been known to really enjoy an intimate tea party for just one.  And why not?  

All you need is a table spread with a fine cloth and some tea . . . in a pot of course, (today we had blackberry and mint and it was delicious!) and cups and saucers. You also need some delicious foods, although they need not be overly complicated.

The perfect afternoon tea (or High Tea as it is also called) should begin with some delicious savouries . . . finger sandwiches, sausage rolls, little toasts, savoury pastries . . . followed with scones (if you wish) and a selection of small fancies and cakes.

You don't need a lot of sandwiches, only a few different types will do. I think we all have things in our cupboards and larders to make up a few sandwiches.  Egg Salad. Ham. Cheese and pickle. Tomato. Cucumber (very traditional). There is no end to the types we can make.

Sausage rolls and tiny turnovers are also very popular. We had some in the freezer leftover from Christmas. Even Deviled Eggs can be quite welcome! I adore Deviled Eggs. You can find my recipe for those here.

For dainties all you need is a selection of a few bits and bobs.  I am sure we all still have things leftover from Christmas.  Shortbread cookies, squares and the like. 

You don't really need a lot of them, one or two per person is quite sufficient. Even fancy chocolates are a treat. Just choose a few bits that really strike your fancy and give you a small bit of pleasure.

Of course the star of any good Tea Table will be a fresh baked cake. You won't get much nicer than a beautiful Battenburg Cake.  If you love almond, then this is the cake for you. 
A firm favourite on the traditional English tea table, this is a very pretty two coloured sponge cake, put together like a pink and white checker board pattern. I think you may actually be quite surprised as how very easy it is to make one of these delicious cakes!

You only need to create a simple sponge cake batter.  The sponge batter is divided in half with one half being coloured pink with a bit of pink food colouring. 

These get baked in the same tin.  If you like you can separate the two batters with a strip of aluminium foil, or bake them separately in small loaf tins.  .

Personally, I never have a problem baking them both in the same cake tin however. They stay largely separate and you will be trimming the edges once the cake has cooled, so it is very easy to separate the two colours.
 Once cooled each colour is separated, trimmed and cut into two long strips.  These strips are then sandwiched together in a checkerboard pattern, using seedless raspbery jelly and vanilla buttercream as a glue.

Its quite simply really. If your cake is completely cold you only need a good and sharp serrated knife to do the job.  Just cut and trim as needed. 

You don't have to put jam and butter cream between each layer if you don't want to, although that is traditional. On this day I did jam one way and buttercream the other way. Feel free to use a good quality store brand if that is what you have.

Raspberry jam and butter cream are traditional, but do feel free to use something else if you are not fond.  This is all about creating a pretty cake that everyone will enjoy.  

Once you have your checkerboard created you will need to brush the whole cake in more jam and then wrap it in a thin layer of marzipan. The marzipan gets rolled out very thinly on a layer of granulated sugar, which helps to prevent it from sticking to the cutting board/counter and adds a delightful crunch.

If you are really feeling keen and industrious you can stretch this a bit and make a Hazelnut Battenburg Cake. This is a wonderful riff on the traditional, composed of a chocolate hazelnut batter layered with the white cake. 

Hazelnut Battenburg

 As you can see this is also very pretty. The layers are sandwiched together with chocolate hazelnut spread.  I use nutella.
It is incredibly moreish. Especially if you enjoy chocolate!

A Traditional Battenburg Cake

When cut into slices this is a beautiful cake. I think it is really quite amazing looking. It is very impressive and not all that difficult. 
 It does require a little  bit of patience, but it's well worth any effort taken. It may take a bit of practice to get the marzipan as tight as you would like it, but do persevere as it is most beautiful when done

 If you are looking for a mighty fine cake to serve at your teatime table, then this is the one to choose. Pretty and delicious. What more could you want??? Nom! Nom!

Yield: 6
Author: Marie Rayner
Battenburg Cake

Battenburg Cake

prep time: 10 Mincook time: 45 Mintotal time: 55 Min
This is a traditional cake that has appearing in British cookery books for over two centuries. The finished cake resembles somewhat a church stained glass window. This is a real treat for almond lovers and not as hard to make as it would seem!


For the cake:
  • 3/4 cup (175g) butter, softened
  • 1 cup minus 2 TBS (175g) caster sugar
  • 3 large free range eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups (175g) self raising flour
  • a little red food colouring
You will also need:
  • 2/3 pound (275g) of natural almond paste (marzipan)
  • warmed seedless raspberry jam (about 3 TBS)
  • vanilla buttercream icing (about 3 TBS)
  • granulated sugar to dust


  1. Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ gas mark 3.  Butter a 7-inch square cake tin and line with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter together with the sugar until very light and fluffy.
  3. Add the lightly beaten eggs and the flour, a little at a time, beating until smooth.
  4. Divide the cake batter in half, placing each half in a different bowl.
  5. Tint one half with a bit of red food colouring to give you a pink batter.
  6. Spoon the pink batter into the left hand side of the tin, and the normal colour into the other side. Smooth the top gently.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 30 to 35 minutes or until firm when lightly pressed in the centre.
  8. Carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before proceeding.
  9. When the cake is completely cool, trim the edges of the cake and then divide it equally into 4 long sections, with two being pink and two being white.
  10. Using a little of the butter cream and some of the warmed raspberry jam, place one of each colour on the bottom and the remaining two on top. alternating the colours to give you a chequer board pattern and having some butter cream and jam between each. You will not need much, only just enough to make them adhere to the other.
  11. Dust the counter top with some granulated sugar and then roll out the marzipan on top. You need to roll it thinly into an oblong roughly the length of the cake and large enough to roll around the cake.
  12. Spread with a thin layer of jam and then place the sponge checkerboard on top. Roll the marzipan around the cake and seal with a bit more jam.
  13. Trim the edges neatly at each end. Place onto a plate with the "seam" underneath and lightly mark the top in the traditional criss cross pattern.


Make Your Own Self Raising Flour:

You can make your own self raising flour by adding 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/4 tsp of salt to every cup of plain flour.

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A Traditional Battenburg Cake

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  1. Did you know that I've never tried to make this cake before. I've seen them and admired them, but never thought to do it myself. I guess I always assumed it might need a specialised cake tin, so I just didn't ever look for recipes. I had no idea that it was so easy! I'm going to have to try this as I've always thought they were such pretty cakes and I want to challenge myself this year to make things I've not made before.

    I really like your idea of a special afternoon tea just for two (or even one) and making it a real treat by using the good china and a variety of bite sized goodies. In these dark days of winter and especially now with COVID restrictions creeping in more and more we need to be inventive and make the most of what we have rather than focus on what we can't do. I'm determined be try to put my best foot forward and think of things every day that bring joy into my life. This could be one of them :)

    1. If I can make it Marie, anyone can! Its so pretty. A real delight! I think we all need to try a bit harder during all of these restrictions to make our lives a little bit sweeter and things like a tea for one or two can do just that. Its a great diversion for these challenging times we are living in! xoxo

  2. I remember some Bake off contenders trying to make a Battenburg when Mary Berry was judge with some mixed results. I haven't tried it myself but will at some point. I've always thought that a high tea was eaten with a knife and fork whereas afternoon tea was the one you have described but I may be mistaken. It looks delicious whatever it's called.

    1. Perhaps you are right Jay, about the knife and fork. High tea or plain old tea, this is delicious absolutely! xoxo

  3. I've always wanted to make one of these and I never knew how. Your directions are great. I may have to try this one soon. Only, I think I'd go off the grid and frost with buttercream. Marzipan isn't my fave!

    1. I hope you do try it! It should be just as lovely with buttercream! Xoxo

  4. I think these are so pretty, but I can understand why they can seem a daunting prospect. Perhaps an easier method would be to cook two circular cakes and then when cold use a large cutter to cut a circle from the centre of each. Using little jam as glue swap the two centres over. Sandwich the two layers with buttercream, then stick a marzipan circle on the top. When cut it still looks very pretty, but is less stressful as it doesn't have to be cut to size or rolled into its marzipan covering. Not as exciting to look at at first, but very pretty when cut. The top of the cake can be decorated with crystallised flowers to make it prettier before it is cut

    1. Sounds good Karen! I will give that a go next time! Great idea and sounds very pretty! Xoxo

  5. Hello no liquid


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