Amy’s Almost Battenburg Cake

Amy’s Almost Battenburg CakeBattenburg Bunny
When I think of Easter baking two things come to mind: Hot Cross Buns and Carrot Cake. They are two undisputed staples of the Easter celebration. But, as much as I enjoy a good carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, sometimes you just want to do something different. Be a rebel. Take a walk on the wild side. (Okay, wild might be a bit strong.)

My issue is while I know I want to something different, I’m just not sure what that might be. My strawberries are starting to bear fruit—but not nearly in the quantities I need for a dessert for a crowd. There are enough for a nice little snack while watering the garden, though.

Something lemony is always a good idea. The bright yellow color and bright lemony flavor are perfect for a Spring /Easter brunch or dinner. But, finding something new was challenging until I remembered a cake from one of my favorite TV show binges from this past year.

My mother-in-law had been telling us to watch the Durrells in Corfu on PBS for the past couple of years…well before lockdown. So, my husband and I decided to take the plunge out of a desperate need for entertainment. And, we were very glad we did. It’s hilarious, and made even more so because it was way too similar to how my husband was brought up.

Battenburg cake has a reoccurring part in the show. So, of course I was intrigued. I have never made one nor have I ever tasted one. But, there’s no time like the present…right? I found a recipe on Food 52 and have adapted it with lemon rather than marzipan and a buttercream frosting. So, while it may not actually be a Battenburg cake, it will still look like one!  

Amy’s Almost Battenburg Cake
Yields 8-10 servings
Adapted from Food 52 and King Arthur Flour

For the cake
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
Zest from two lemons, or 3/4 tsp lemon oil
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
Red or pink food coloring

(Lemon Butter Cream Frosting below.)

Make the cake
Preheat oven 350° F.

Prepare the pan
Grease and flour an 8″ x 8” square baking pan.

Make the divider—a little origami
Next, cut out a piece of parchment paper that you will use to divide the cake pan in half down the middle to separate the two batters while baking. Do this by cutting out an 20″ x 8″ strip of paper and then folding it in half to make a 10″ x 8″ rectangle.

Open the rectangle flat on the table so the crease is facing up. Pinch up the crease and fold it over once to the left and again to the right creating a 2-inch section that rises up in the center.  Insert the paper in the prepared pan so that it sits at the bottom with a barrier to keep the two batters separate from one another. (This image might help clarify.)  Fold any extra paper over the sides to create flaps for easy removal.

Then cut two 8″ x 2″ strips of parchment paper and slide them down the two bare sides of the pan. Now, all inside surfaces of the pan are covered with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed, until fluffy (about 1 minute). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients
Combine the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add 1/3 of flour mixture to cake batter and gently mix to combine. Then add half of the milk. Repeat the process adding flour and milk until you have incorporated all the ingredients. Mix in the lemon zest.

Color the batter
Evenly divide the batter between two bowls—you can weigh it for accuracy. Color one batter with a few drops of red or pink food coloring and mix well.

Fill the pan
Carefully spoon the batter into the prepared pan so as not to collapse the center divide. You may need to alternate between filling the two sides in increments. You will end up with the plain batter on one side and the pink batter on the other.

Bake the cake
Bake in center rack of oven until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (about 30-35 minutes). Allow the pan to cool for 10 minutes before turning the cake out onto a rack to cool completely.

Make the buttercream
While the cake is baking, make the buttercream and store in the fridge until ready to use. (See below for recipe.)

Trim the cake
Trim the ends, top, and sides of cakes so you end up with two equally-sized rectangles. Slice each cake in half lengthwise to make four long rectangles with a square cross-section.

Prepare the jam
Warm the jam in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Press through a fine sieve to remove pulp and seeds.

Assemble the cake
Brush the long side of one of the rectangle cake pieces with jam and sandwich it together with a cake rectangle of the opposite color. Then, brush the tops of those two rectangles with jam and top one side with a piece of cake of the opposite color. Brush the side with jam and place the final rectangle so you end up with a checkerboard pattern and all four sections stuck together with jam.

Frost the cake with the prepared buttercream. Chill until ready to slice and serve.

Lemon Butter Cream Frosting
This recipe makes a large amount of buttercream—which is a good thing. Leftovers can be used for any number of deliciously creative projects.

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup meringue powder
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
32 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind (zest)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Make the Frosting
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the granulated sugar in the boiling water. Allow it to cool completely.

Add the meringue powder. Using the whisk attachment of your mixer, beat the powder into the sugar water until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners’ sugar, mixing until thoroughly combined.

Add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, beating constantly. The frosting will become very creamy. Beat in the vanilla, lemon zest, and salt.

Use the buttercream immediately to fill and frost a cake.

You can make the buttercream in advance and store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Leftovers will also freeze well for longer storage.

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