Peek-a-boo battenberg cake

Peek-a-boo battenberg cake

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(17 ratings)

Prep: 1 hr, 20 mins Cook: 1 hr Plus chilling

A challenge

Makes a tall 18cm cake

A stunning rose and almond sponge in the distinctive checkered pattern, hidden in sweet marzipan icing

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freeze sponges only

Nutrition: per serving (12)

  • kcal964
  • fat51g
  • saturates22g
  • carbs113g
  • sugars89g
  • fibre2g
  • protein13g
  • salt1.1g
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    For the almond sponge

    • 225g very soft salted butter, plus a little extra for greasing
    • 225g golden caster sugar
    • 225g self-raising flour
    • 85g ground almond
    • 3 large eggs
    • ½ tsp vanilla extract
    • ½ tsp almond extract
    • 1 tbsp milk



      One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a 'complete' food…

    For the rose sponge

    • 225g very soft salted butter
    • 225g golden caster sugar
    • 225g self-raising flour
    • 85g ground almond
    • 3 large eggs
    • ½ tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp rosewater
    • 1 tbsp milk



      One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a 'complete' food…

    • a little artificial pink food colouring (see tip, below)

    To assemble and ice

    • jar of apricot jam
    • 1 tsp rosewater
    • a little icing sugar, for dusting
    • 2 x 500g packs white marzipan (you'll have trimmings, but better to have leftovers than leave yourself short)
      Marzipan cake



      One of mankind’s oldest sources of sweet pleasure, marzipan needs to contain only ground…


    1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease and line the base of 2 x 18cm round sandwich tins with baking parchment.

    2. Start with the almond sponge: put all the ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk until the mix comes together smoothly. Weigh the mixture and spread exactly half into each tin. Bake for 30 mins – when you poke a skewer into the middle, it should come out clean. Cool in the tins for 15 mins, then carefully turn out onto wire racks to finish cooling while you make the second sponge.

    3. Clean the tins, then grease and line as above. Beat together the butter, sugar, flour, ground almonds, eggs, vanilla, rose water and milk as above. When smooth, beat in a little pink food colouring, bit by bit, until you get a nice colour – it will fade a little during baking, so you can go slightly stronger than you want the finished sponge. Weigh, divide between the tins and bake as above. Cool in the same way.

    4. Once the sponges are cool, cover gently and chill for 30 mins – this will make cutting them easier and neater.

    5. Unwrap the sponges and, if they have domed in the centre, trim to flatten. Cut a 6cm diameter circle out of the centre of each sponge (a 6cm biscuit cutter is ideal, or make yourself a paper template) and set aside. Then cut a 12cm diameter circle from the centre of each sponge by tracing a knife around a plate of the same diameter (or use another paper template). So from each sponge you should end up with a 6cm circle, a 12cm ring and an 18cm ring.

    6. Swap the middle rings of the almond sponges with the middle rings from the rose sponges, and fit the cut pieces back together. Handle the sponges very gently, to avoid cracking or crumbling up the edges too much. You should end up with 4 sponges that look like targets.

    7. Heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve and stir in the rose water. Brush some over the top of one of the sponges and top with an alternating sponge. Repeat to stack up all the layers. Sit the cake on a serving plate or cake stand.

    8. Dust your work surface with a little icing sugar and roll out your marzipan until big enough to cover the cake (use a piece of string to measure the cake; see tip below). Brush some more jam all over the top and sides of the cake. Use your rolling pin to lift up the marzipan onto the cake, then ease it down the sides, pressing to stick. Trim the marzipan from the base, then decorate the cake as you like. Cut into wedges and serve with tea. Will keep for three days in an airtight container.

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    Comments, questions and tips

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    Darryl Neylon's picture
    Darryl Neylon
    28th Apr, 2019
    Made exactly as the recipe says and it was delicious the flavours together went really well, was dubious at first about rose water but it was very tasty. The cakes did break a little as I handled them but sticking them back together in the layers meant you didn't even notice! Had a lot of left over marzipan so decided to make a second cake with just two layers splitting my batter for the almond and then adding rose to one half to have the same effect as the 4 layers. If anything two layers was probably better as the cakes turned out fluffier. Going to try the same recipe again but with lemon and orange with marmalade, maybe leave out the marzipan for that one though ?
    16th Mar, 2019
    Great recipe, easy to follow and cake turned out really well! I left out the rosewater and it wasn't missed at all missed. I also made battenberg cake pops out of the cake trimmings I had - just crumble the cake trimming into a bowl add some of the apricot jam and roll the mixture into balls, then cover these in marzipan. Really tasty and a great way to avoid too much waste as I had a lot of leftover marzipan and cake.
    8th Jul, 2017
    This turned out perfectly, with the small exception of the colour! My dough was the colour of pepto bismol before baking, but to my shock upon removal from the oven it was a pale yellow, with no hint of pink whatsoever! Undoubtedly says more about the quality of our food colouring than the recipe, but beware, as the aesthetic effect of two yellow sponges is somewhat diminished...
    20th Jan, 2016
    Made it with one 18-cm cake tin (I don't have 2), and cut the cakes after baking. Although the large cakes needed almost an hour in the oven and this method probably makes the whole cutting-swapping-rings thing a little more crumbly and difficult, it worked out fine. And then the result! Almost exactly like the picture. Made it for the last day of my internship, and people actually stopped and walked by for a second time to look at it ;) I was a little worried about the jam and that the cake would fall apart after cutting it in pieces, but it stuck together very well.
    24th Oct, 2015
    Made this as a retirement cake for my mum, and it went down really well. Couldn't find white marzipan so used yellow, and it was fine. I used less rose water as the family isn't keen on the flavour, just didn't add it to the apricot glaze but kept it in the cake. Big thumbs up!
    9th Jun, 2014
    This is so delicious. I had to make a battenberg to serve lots of people so I used a 9 inch pan and used the amounts given here. Had to cook each cake for 45 mins as they're bigger and I used apricot jam for the vertical joins as well as the horizontal. Cake stuck together really well. I particularly loved the almond cake, which I'm thinking of making on its own, with perhaps some chocolate ganache and candied orange to decorate.
    13th Jan, 2014
    This cake was amazing! Much easier to make than I initially thought. I was worried about it being dry after previous comments but didn't want to remove the ground almonds, so I put a really thin spread of vanilla buttercream between each layer. It worked perfectly! My new favourite cake :)
    4th Sep, 2013
    LOVE this cake (although I have never made it to the recipe). I have made a chocolate/orange version for a friend's birthday, covered in orangey chocolate and am about to make a raspberry/red velvet version for my parents' wedding anniversary. Everyone is very impressed by the look and taste so it's definitely going to become my signature cake :)
    7th Aug, 2013
    I made this following the recipe exactly (I don't cook very often so don't improvise). If I were to make it again I'd use less Rose Water as I found it dominated the taste and I'd use more food colouring (it really needs to a shocking pink before you bake it, there is little point in making it if you can's see the chequer board effect). To get the marzipan on the sides I rolled out a strip onto greaseproof paper, rolled it up and unrolled it onto the sides of the cake - this worked well for me. Having said all that, I won't bake it again. It looks great ( I won a prize in our local show) but the slices fall to pieces as the pieces of cake towards the center are so small and so the slice collapses like a poorly constructed wall (which is actually what it is!). I guess that means that if I were to make the cake again I'd stagger the rings of cake so that they interlock and may hold together when sliced (yes, I'm an engineer not a cook). All said and done, if you want to impress it certain does that.
    9th Jul, 2013
    This cake is brilliant. Looks stunning when cut into, had everyone guessing how it was made. Tasted amazing too. The only problem I had was with rolling out the marzipan so it was big enough. Will definitley make this again, and will venture into using this technique to make other checkered cakes.


    15th Oct, 2015
    Does anyone know whether this cake would freeze ok marzipan and all? Thanks
    27th May, 2014
    Does anyone know how long this cake keeps for? I am planning to make and decorate it for a birthday party but was not sure how long it would stay fresh to decorate before eating. Also - any tips for freezing / thawing?
    goodfoodteam's picture
    12th Jun, 2014
    The cake will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight tin.  You could freeze the cakes before assembling after baking then defrost at room temperature before continuting with the recipes as directed, thanks.
    9th Jun, 2014
    Will stay fresh for three or four days as long as it's covered in marzipan and not cut. You could freeze the cakes before chopping up or covering with marzipan. In fact, I suspect it would be easier to cut up and assemble when almost frozen - less likely to crumble and crack. Good luck
    27th May, 2014
    I am planning to make and decorate this cake for a birthday party... does anyone know how long this cake keeps for to allow for decorating? Also any tips on freezing / thawing?
    11th May, 2014
    Does anyone have any suggestions to make sure the rings to not break whilst assembling the cake? I understand the reason for chilling but even so it must be fragile. Its a lot to do to if it could fall apart at the end. I've even thought about measuring/cutting a set of rings out of cardboard to strengthen the cake whilst moving it. Help!
    9th Jun, 2014
    I didn't find it to hard to manipulate - just a liberal use of large dinner plates to slide pieces around. Mine didn't crack but there were crumbs hanging around.
    goodfoodteam's picture
    19th May, 2014
    Hi there, the cake has had good feedback and the sponge is not as deliciate as you would think so if you follow the recipe and work carefully you should be fine. Hope it turns out well! Thanks.
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