As Crystal embarked on a culinary journey to recreate the best tastes of our Europe trip last summer, I was prompted to look into what we perhaps had missed during our time abroad. At the top of my search results for “iconic British desserts” was Battenberg cake. According to the most popular story of its origin, Battenberg cake was invented in 1884 to celebrate the marriage between Princess Victoria, Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, and Prince Louis of Battenberg, of German descent. Inspired by the pastel colors of the German Rococo period, Battenberg cake consists of pink and yellow sponge cake arranged in a 2×2 checkered pattern. With such an epic-sounding name, I was all on board to make Battenberg cake!
Lemon + Rose Battenberg Cake
- ¼ cup + ¼ cup softened unsalted butter
- ¼ cup + ¼ cup apple sauce
- 70 + 40g sugar
- 100 + 100g cake flour
- 2 + 2 eggs
- 1 + 1 tsp baking powder
- 5 drops yellow food coloring
- Zest and juice of half of a lemon
- 5 drops red food coloring
- 1 tbsp rose water
- Jam or frosting
- 12 oz. ready-to-roll white fondant
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 4 ½” x 8 ½” loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Cream together ¼ cup butter and 70g sugar with an electric mixer.
- On low speed, mix in 2 eggs one at a time, followed by ¼ cup apple sauce, lemon juice, and zest.
- In a separate bowl, mix together 100g flour and 1 tsp baking powder.
- Fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture and add 5 drops food coloring, whisk until smooth and combined.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 20-25 min.
- Mix ingredients same as above, replacing the yellow ingredients with the pink ones.
- Allow the cakes to cool to room temperature.
- Level off the top of each cake with a knife if necessary.
- Place one on top of the other and trim the sides.
- Slice lengthwise down the middle of the cakes.
- Rearrange your long rectangular pieces into a checkerboard pattern, spreading jam or frosting between the pieces to hold them together.
- Roll out the fondant to make a thin layer large enough to cover the cake (Tip: dust your work surface with powdered sugar to prevent the fondant from sticking).
- Spread a layer of jam or frosting along the top and sides of the cake.
- Drape the fondant over the cake, smooth, and trim excess.
- Marvel and enjoy!
Battenberg cake is traditionally plain sponge cake, but the lemon and the rose flavors coordinate perfectly to complement its signature colors, and since lemon and rose are very much “tea time” flavors, they are also quite fitting for this chipper British dessert.