Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Royal Focus: Battenberg Cake

It started out as a dessert I planned to bring to a party. Little did I know it would become a character building exercise.

When my first attempt failed, making this cake became a mission. I was going to succeed in baking this cake. There it was, perfectly photographed on the internet and I was determined to make a reasonable facsimile. If it happened to taste OK, that would just be an added bonus.

The first incarnation was misshapen and when I tried to trim it to equal sizes, the whole thing fell apart. Trying to find marzipan was harder than I thought, but making homemade marzipan turned out to be harder. So I regrouped.

My second attempt, the taste turned out...well, if you've ever wondered what carpet under-padding tastes like, it might just be close. Trying to trim this cake turned into a disaster. Which I now realize is perfectly understandable considering I cannot draw a straight line to save my life.

My third attempt was a success, mainly thanks to a certain recipe and the technique of using one pan and dividing the batter using a piece of tin foil. The cakes came out almost perfectly. One required a small trim to even it out but otherwise the cake maintained structural integrity while I moved on to the marzipan. My store bought marzipan rolling job is not perfect but hey, that is what photoshop is for.

Ta Dah! And it tastes pretty good too!

Depending on which website you read, the origins of Battenberg cake vary. The most frequently repeated theory is the cake was invented for the 1884 wedding of Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine to Prince Louis of Battenberg. The four squares of the cake are said to represent the four Battenberg princes - Louis, Henry, Alexander and Francis Joseph. It makes for a nice story but it isn't necessarily true. There are knowledgable food historians who cannot find a plausible link between the Battenberg wedding and the invention of the cake. I've included some very detailed posts about the history of the cake in the sources listed below.

Although the definitive origins are lost to the sands of time, the cake did eventually find its way to the royal table. According to an anecdote from in Darren McGrady's book Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace KitchenSarah Ferguson, Duchess of York loved this cake and would request it whenever she held a tea at Buckingham palace. He once sent up an absolutely perfect Battenberg cake, only to have it returned uneaten, with instructions not to serve her a store bought cake again. With a new appreciation for what goes into making this cake, I shake a virtual fist at Fergie.

The recipe and technique I followed worked charm. The recipe is reproduced with kind permission from Titli from Titli's Busy Kitchen. The video demonstration is entertaining to boot! Note, some of the terms, amounts and temperature have been changed for North American bakers.


  • 450 g (1lb) marzipan
  • 175 g / 6 oz (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 175 g / 6 oz (3/4 cup) caster sugar (superfine granulated sugar)
  • 175 g / 6 oz (3/4 cup) self-raising flour (or plain flour + 1 tsp baking powder)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2-3 tsp apricot glaze (or sieved apricot jam)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • Red or pink food colouring
  • Icing sugar

  1. Cream together butter and sugar
  2. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl together with the vanilla essence. Add half the eggs to the butter and sugar and beat in.
  3. Sieve in half the four and beat well. Now beat in, consecutively, the remaining egg and flour.
  4. Lightly grease and line an 8" (20cm) square cake pan with parchment paper. Make a divider from baking foil and place down the centre of the pan.
  5. Pour one half of the mixture into one half of the cake pan.
  6. Beat in enough food colouring into the remaining mixture to give it a strong pink colour, then pour it into the other half of the cake tin.
  7. Bake at 170°C (338°F) for 25-30 minutes and allow to cool before turning the cake out of the pan.
  8. Carefully trim the two sponge cakes to give neat rectangles of cake. Place one cake on top of the other and cut down the centre so you have four evenly sized oblongs. Using warm apricot glaze, stick the oblongs together into a checkerboard pattern. Trim further if necessary. 
  9. Sprinkle icing sugar onto a flat surface and roll out the marzipan to around 5 mm (1 1/4") thick. spread apricot glaze onto the marzipan and slide the cake into the middle of the marzipan. Fold up the sides and make a neat seam on the top of the cake.
  10. Turn the cake over so that the seam is on the bottom and trim the ends of the cake. Place on a serving plate/board and dust with icing sugar.

Battenberg Cake history sources:

Wikiwand - Battenberg Cake 

Battenberg Cake - The Truth

Battenberg Cake - History Again!

The Queen and Her Cakes

Wikipedia - Battenberg Cake

© Marilyn Braun 2017

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Royal Focus: The Royal Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Behold, the Chocolate Biscuit cake. This cake may sound familiar to royal watchers as it is a royal favourite of the Queen and Prince William. He even chose it as one of the royal wedding cakes!

The 'groom's cake' at the royal wedding reception was made by McVitie's Cake Company using a royal family recipe. Now part of United Biscuits, the Royal Warrant holders have been making cakes for royal weddings and christenings since the wedding of Prince George, Duke of York and Princess May of Teck in 1893. The company, then known as McVitie and Price Ltd, also made the official royal wedding cake for Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and the official cake for the Queen and Prince Philip's 60th wedding anniversary in 2007.

This cake is no bake and super easy to make. As you can see, my icing and moulding skills need some work but luckily it doesn't affect the taste. You can find this recipe in Darren McGrady's excellent cookbook, Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen. Note that Darren has said that his book will be coming out in seventh printing soon for $24.99

This recipe is reproduced with kind permission from Darren McGrady.


1/2 teaspoon butter, for greasing pan
8 ounces McVities Rich Tea biscuits (I found them at the Bulk Food Barn in Canada)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces of dark chocolate
1 egg, beaten
8 ounces dark chocolate, for icing
1 ounces white chocolate, for decoration


Lightly grease a small (6 x 2/1/2-inch) cake ring with 1/2 teaspoon of butter and place on a parchment-lined tray. Break each of the biscuits into almond-sized pieces by hand and set aside (do not process the biscuits). Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until the mixture is a light lemon color.

Melt the 4 ounces of dark chocolate in a double boiler. If you don't have a double boiler you can use a metal bowl on top of a pot of simmering water. Add the butter and sugar mixture to the chocolate and stir constantly. Ad the egg and continue stirring. Fold in the biscuit pieces until they are all coated with the chocolate mixture.

Spoon the chocolate biscuit mixture into the prepared cake ring. Try to fill all of the gaps in the bottom of the ring, because this will be the top when it is unmolded. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator, and let it stand while you melt the 8 ounces of dark chocolate for the icing. Slide the ring off the cake and turn the cake upside down onto a cooling/wire rack. Pour the 8 ounces of melted dark chocolate over the cake, and smooth the top and sides using an offset-spatula. Allow the chocolate icing to set at room temperature. Carefully run a knife around the bottom of the cake where it has stuck to the cooling rack, and transfer cake to a cake dish. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle on top of the cake in a decorative pattern.

Cut and serve!

© Marilyn Braun 2017

Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.

Monday, September 04, 2017

William and Catherine are expecting royal baby number 3!!

My take on it.

Congratulations to the Cambridge family.


© Marilyn Braun 2017

 Thank you for enjoying this article. If you use the information for research purposes, a link to credit the work I've put into writing it would be appreciated.