BATTENBERG CAKE - CLASSIC OR CONTEMPORARY?

Often traced back to its undocumented but widely believed royalty roots, Battenberg cake is the UK’s very own dessert delicacy. It is believed that the cake was a dessert of celebration on the event of marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria to Louis of Battenberg in the year 1884. Battenberg for starters are loved and famous for primarily two things – the cake’s pastel (yellow and pink) checkerboard pattern and secondly, its almond fused marzipan wrapping. So for anyone who has an appetite for almonds and desserts that look straight out of a Wes Anderson dream, this cake IS IT!

Battenberg looks like a cake that would require a good deal of culinary expertise to come to its perfection but it is really a very easy dessert that can be made for teatime just about any day. The recipe calls for a very traditional approach at baking, very similar to how most sponge cakes are made. Butter, sugar, flour and eggs are whisked together with an exceptionally unique addition of almond sponge. The almond sponge retains moisture inside the cake, giving an added depth and softness in the texture and taste. The almond also makes the cake feel very pastry- like in texture with the moistness that it infuses it with. Apricot jam is a fruity addition in between the cake layers. It acts as a natural sweetener against the relatively saltier almond infused marzipan wrapping. Mr Kipling’s Battenberg, an iconic one at that, has developed and mastered the right density and texture that pairs well with the almond flavoured paste as its wrapping. One must definitely try out Kipling’s mini Battenberg cakes for tasting before diving into the broader ranges of the same.

Visually, battenberg has a design like no other and is very satisfying to look at. Traditionally, the cake was designed like 3 by 3 chequered boxes, with pink and yellow as its alternative colours. With growingly wide mass production, the same has been replaced and simplified with a 2 by 2 chequered box design. The pastel colours of pink and yellow are simply charming to be looked at either way. For baking, Battenberg requires a segregated Battenberg tin and a Battenberg pan made of anodized aluminium. Although regular baking tins and pans can also be used, specialised ones ensure a lot simpler and a quicker process of baking.

A Battenberg Birthday Cake or a Battenberg Wedding Cake at that is one of the most wonderful ideas to go for a themed celebration. The cake itself has celebratory roots as its history for starters. The soft pink and yellow pastel colours can be thoughtfully made into a picture perfect dessert element into a similarly themed celebration. Many cultures also consider almond as a good omen for any initiating ceremony giving Battenberg cakes an edge over the traditionally decorated cakes.

Battenberg cakes also come in dietary variations like a gluten free one. A gluten free Battenburg cake replaces regular wheat flour with grounded almonds as its base ingredient. A self raising gluten free flour can also be used as another replacement. For the gluten free Battenberg cakes, apricot jam is not just a flavourful addition but it is also the glue that holds the layers together. Therefore a generous amount of the apricot jam is recommended if you want to bake a gluten free variation. A vegan variation of Battenberg cakes is another healthy, unique spin to the regular ones. For all vegan folks, the vegan Battenberg cakes are very much an option and can be baked with non dairy plant based milk. The rest of the preparation remains pretty much the same. You can add a vanilla, strawberry or literally any flavoured whipping cream as topping to enhance the flavour.

Chocolate Battenberg cake is an excellent spin to the regular Battenberg cake. For all devoted chocolate lovers who simply fail to grasp the idea of cakey desserts without chocolate in them, this variation of Battenberg cakes has become a staple. Chocolate Battenberg cakes have a very defined look with monochrome shades and is another great recommendation for a similarly visually themed celebration, weddings, birthdays, baby showers, grad parties and what not!

Lastly, it wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t add a completely different variation all together. We welcome: Battenberg cheesecake. A no-bake cheesecake uses an already prepared cheesecake mixture to further bake the Battenberg version. The cheesecake filling can be developed into the two pastel colours by using almond extract for the yellow layer and raspberry powder for the pink layer. Raspberry acts not only for the flavour but also acts as a natural colouring agent. It can be topped off with Vanilla or strawberry whipped cream. So really, this traditional classic seems to have made it’s mark throughout the generations. What would you try next?

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