Vegan Battenberg Cake
This traditional English cake may look complicated to make but it’s easier than you think. Find out how to make a Vegan Battenberg below.
The Great British Bake Off Bake Along
When the Great British Bake Off first hit our screens in 2010 food blogs were also starting to appear. Most had some sort of “theme” and it wasn’t long before food bloggers started doing “bake alongs” with the show. The idea was that each week you would attempt the technical challenge from the previous episode. It was good fun seeing home bakers attempt the challenges at home and it often inspired me to try more complicated bakes.
Given that everyone is feeling a little depressed due to the global pandemic I’ve decided to bring back the Great British Bake Off Bake Along! Every week I’m going to pick a recipe from the previous episode but with a twist. This year I’m going to use all of my vegan baking knowledge to make the recipe plant based! If you want to follow along and share your own posts please do. I will be using the hashtag #GBBOBakeAlong on instagram and twitter.
The sponge element of this Vegan Battenberg was the bit I was least worried about. The sponge in a traditional Battenberg is an almond sponge cake which is a little more dense than your average cake. The reason it needs to be a little more dense is so that it holds its shape well when cut into long rectangles before being assembled into a chequerboard. Why is this a good thing? Well, when you take eggs out of a cake recipe sometimes the result can be a more dense crumb. But that’s exactly what we want here. Phew! I replaced the moisture that the eggs would have brought with almond milk which just adds even more almond flavour to the almond sponge!
One thing you do need to be aware of, however, is that not all food colourings are vegan friendly. The ingredient you want to look out for is cochineal.
This is a Great British Bake Off Challenge so no store bought ingredients are allowed here. (Which is a shame because store bought marzipan is almost always vegan!) Again, the ingredient that stops homemade marzipan being vegan is egg. (Why are eggs in everything?!) The strange thing about egg being included in so many marzipan recipes online is that it’s not actually traditionally made that way. Egg has been added to help keep marzipan moist and to bind the ingredients together but its certainly not essential. The recipe I use below will hold together and roll out perfectly well without an egg in sight.
Assembling the cake
The hardest part about this bake isn’t making the sponge or marzipan vegan, it’s the assembly job! It takes precision, patience and maybe a glass of prosecco to calm your nerves. If you don’t have a special battenberg tin (who does?!) you will need to line your tin with foil to split your tin in two. Alternatively, you can bake them in two separate square tins which is my preferred method.
Once the cake is baked you need to cut each cake in half creating 4 long, thin rectangular pieces of cake. Don’t be tempted to carve the cakes while they are still warm or they will crumble. Pop them in the fridge to make sure they are properly chilled. To make sure they are all the same size I recommend stacking the pink sponge on top of the yellow sponge and trimming them at the same time. Once you have your four rectangles you arrange them in a chequer board pattern and sandwich them together with a small amount of apricot jam. Don’t use too much or it will all squidge out and look messy when you wrap it in the marzipan.
Wrapping the cake in marzipan sounds daunting but shouldn’t be. Cut it to size using your cake as a guide – this will ensure you have neat edges at both ends. Roll the cake in the marzipan and use a little bit of water to push the two edges together. Hopefully they will seal nicely on the bottom side of your cake (no one will ever see if it’s not perfect!)
Vegan Battenberg Cake
- 20cm / 8in square cake tin
For the sponge cake
For the marzipan
Preparing your tin
- Fold a piece of tin foil several times until it is thick enough to use as a divider down the middle of your tin. Make sure it is at least as high and wide as the tin.
- Cut a piece of baking paper that is twice as long as your cake tin. Fold it in half and place this pleat over the tin foil divider. Push the baking paper into the base of the cake and then up the sides. Any overhang can be used to remove the cakes later.
- Line any remaining sides of the tin before preparing the cake mix.
Baking the cake
- Pre-heat your oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.
- Sieve the flour, ground almonds and caster sugar into a bowl.
- Add the butter, milk and almond extract and whisk until you have a bubbly cake batter.
- Split the cake batter in two (you can use a scale to make sure you have divided it evenly) and colour one half with pink food colouring.
- Pour the batter into the tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 35 minutes or until the sponges bounce back when touched and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Leave the cakes to cool in the tin before assembling.
For the marzipan
- While the cakes are cooling, add the ground almonds and icing sugar into a blender and pulse until they have become a fine powder.
- Add the water and the almond extract and continue to pulse until a ball of dough has formed.
- If a ball of dough does not form add a little extra water but try to be patient, it may take a while to come together.
- Knead the marzipan ball on a clean surface to ensure it's smooth.
- Shape the marzipan into a rectangle and cover with cling film. Place it into the fridge and let it rest for at least half an hour before attempting to roll out for the cake's assembly.
Assembling the cake
- Once the cakes are completely cool, place the sponges on top of each other and trim so that they are both the same size.
- Cut the sponges straight down the middle. You should now have 4 even rectangles of cake.
- Take one of the trips of yellow sponge and spread the long right hand edge and the top of the cake with apricot jam. Push one of the strips of pink sponge against the side firmly to ensure it is stuck together.
- Spread a thin layer of apricot jam on top of that strip of pink sponge and place the second strip of yellow sponge on top.
- Spread a thin layer of jam along the long left hand edge of the yellow sponge and push it firmly in place. You should now have a chequer board pattern.
- Dust a clean surface with a little icing sugar and roll out the marzipan making sure that it is as long as all 4 sides of the chequer board face of the cake and as wide as each strip of sponge cake. Use a ruler to help.
- Spread the top of the cake with apricot jam and place it into the centre of the marzipan before spreading the remaining three sides with a little bit of apricot jam.
- Fold in both sides of the marzipan and seal the seam together with a pinch.
- Trim any excess marzipan with a sharp knife.