Coffee & Walnut Battenberg Cake

A Battenberg is one of my favourite cakes but I do not make these often enough. Then again, making a Battenberg only occasionally keeps it special. Butch it might not be, but delicious it certainly is! This is essentially a Victoria Sponge cake, flavoured two ways, surrounded with marzipan: so lovely to eat.

I prefer natural colours and very distinct, but complementary flavours in the two sponges. That said, a shop-bought Battenberg has been known to be a guilty treat on more than one occasion!

Coffee and walnuts are two of my favourite ingredients in baking and when I do make a Battenberg more often than not I opt for one of the two sponges being full-on coffee & walnut and the other a plain sponge. However, the addition of white chocolate and almond extract to the plainer sponge (as in my recipe below) allows it to hold its own with the coffee & walnut sponge.

A coffee and walnut cake on its own!

For a standard coffee and walnut cake, make the sponge as below, omitting the white chocolate and doubling the coffee and walnut. Bake in two 7″ circular tins for about 25-30 minutes.

Make up a double batch of the buttercream and use it to sandwich together the cooled cake slices and to spread on top. Cover with walnut halves or sprinkle over crushed toasted walnuts.

Tins!

I use a lined square tin (20cm sides) and a greaseproof pleat down the middle to separate the two different cakes (as in the picture under step 4 below), but it works well cooking each cake in separate tins, cutting to identical sizes once cooked and cooled.

So many flavour choices!

The flavour variations are almost endless, but others that work very well are:

  •  strawberry sponge with vanilla sponge, held together with a strawberry buttercream or jam
  • chocolate sponge with orange sponge, held together with a light orange buttercream or orange curd
  • chocolate sponge with ginger sponge, held together with a vanilla or ginger buttercream

Coffee and Walnut Battenberg Cake

Cake:

  • 200g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter or margarine, softened
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 heaped teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 60g walnuts, chopped
  • 60g white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Buttercream:

  • 80g unsalted butter, softened
  • 140g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon coffee granules dissolved in a little hot water and cooled

To finish:

  • 400g good quality marzipan
  • Icing sugar for rolling out and dusting
  • Walnut pieces and reserved buttercream, optional

(1) Pre-heat the oven to 160C (fan) and grease a 20cm square cake tin, and line with a large sheet of greaseproof that has been folded to form a pleat. The greaseproof should be positioned so that the pleat is in the centre of the tin (see diagram below step 4).

(2) Mix together the butter and sugar in a large bowl for a few moments to incorporate them. Add eggs and the flour, and gently mix together until just incorporated. Split into two identical portions, each of which will become the two different sponges.

(3) For the coffee and walnut sponge: mix the coffee with 2 tablespoons of boiling water and stir until dissolved. Cool a little, then mix this coffee liquid and all of the walnuts into one of the portions of cake mix. Pour into one half of the tin and flatten out. (The remaining coffee liquid will be used to flavour to buttercream)

(4) For the other sponge: mix the almond extract (if using) and the chocolate with the remaining cake mix and pour into the other half of the tin, flattening out:

(5) Bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden-brown on top and cooked through (a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean). While the cakes are cooking, make the buttercream. Leave the cooked cakes in the tin for a few minutes and then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool (as in the diagram below).

(6) To make the buttercream: beat the butter and icing sugar for a few minutes until very soft and creamy. Add the coffee liquid a little at a time and beat well.

(7) Remove the greaseproof carefully and cut the edges off the cakes to neaten. Cut each cake in half length-ways. NB: to ensure the trimmed cakes are the same size it is easier to put the cakes on top of each other before cutting.

(8) Roll out the marzipan on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar to a rectangle about 20cm by 35cm. With the longer edge of marzipan facing you, spread the buttercream (less a teaspoon or so for sticking the walnuts on top) vertically down the middle of the marzipan. NB: you can use string around the cake to get more precise measurements if desired – it needs to be large enough for the length of the cake to sit on and to surround the cake with just a little overlap

The pictures below demonstrate the assembly of the battenburg

(9) Place one of the cake strips on this. Spread buttercream over this piece.

(10) Stick a piece of cake of the opposite flavour next to it, pressing firmly together.

(11) Spread buttercream on top.

(12) Place the remaining two pieces of sponge on top, making sure you alternate the flavours vertically:

(13) Lift the marzipan over the cake, patting well down against the buttercream to hold the sponges firmly in place. Pinch the marzipan seam to make sure it doesn’t come apart.

(14) Turn the cake over with the seam face down. Cut off the shorter faces with a sharp knife (it is easier to get clean cuts by chilling the cake for about 30 minutes first)

(15) You can finish it off by crimping the edges and decorating with walnut halves stuck on with a little buttercream.

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