The classic battenberg cake has been on my to-bake list for a while now. Does anyone else have one of those? Things you’ll make when you have more time, or when something is in season? The contrasting flavours and pretty colours of the traditional bake appealed to me but I wanted to find a recipe with a Rosie twist. I settled upon this lemon and pistachio battenberg via Delicious Magazine, and adapted the recipe adding a lemon buttercream and pistachio marzipan to make the flavours even zingier. Lemon and pistachio go so well together and the springlike pastel colours contrast beautifully, even without food colouring. The battenberg was way simpler to make than I thought it would be, so I urge you to give it a go. If you’re short on time you could use shop-bought marzipan. My cake is by no means perfect, but that rustic charm means your guests will appreciate the effort put into making the cake even more! To make the sponge, you will need:
175g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
175g caster sugar
3 medium free-range eggs
125g self-raising flour
40g ground pistachios
A few drops green food colouring (optional)
Zest 1 lemon
40g ground almonds
Lemon curd or buttercream for spreading (I made the buttercream from this recipe in my archives).
For the marzipan:
150g ground pistachios
75g ground almonds
80g icing sugar
70g caster sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
approx 80ml water (enough to make a firm paste).
Heat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/Gas 4. Grease a 20cm square cake tin. Cut a 30cm x 20cm strip of baking paper, folding an 8cm pleat (4cm high once folded) in the centre. My parchment was nice and thick but you could reinforce with tinfoil in between too. Line the tin with the baking paper, keeping the divide in the centre so you can cook the two sponges in the same tin at the same time. Beat the butter and 175g caster sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one by one, until incorporated. Fold in the flour, then divide the mixture equally between 2 mixing bowls. Add the ground pistachios and green food colouring (if using) into one bowl, stirring to combine. Add the lemon zest and 40g ground almonds to the other bowl, stirring to form a smooth batter.
Spoon each batter into separate sides of the prepared tin, then smooth the surfaces. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the marzipan. Mix the sugars, ground almonds and pistachios together, then add the lemon juice. Add the water a teaspoon at a time. At first you will get a rubble-like mix.
Keep adding the water a little at a time until you have a firm mixture that forms a ball. Knead into a flat disc and chill in the fridge.
To assemble the cake, place one cooled sponge on top of the other on a board, then trim off the crusty edges with a serrated knife so both sponges are the same size and have completely flat sides (I just left the tops). Cut them in half lengthways to make four long rectangles. Roll out the chilled marzipan on a surface well dusted with icing sugar, to a rectangle about 42cm x 22cm. Spread a layer of lemon buttercream over the marzipan, then place a lemon sponge rectangle on one side of an imaginary central line. Spread the inner and top side of this with lemon buttercream, then put a pistachio sponge rectangle next to it, so the buttercream side is touching it.
Spread the top of the pistachio sponge rectangle with lemon buttercream, then repeat with the other two rectangles on top, to form a chequer pattern.
Carefully bring the marzipan up and over the cake to enclose, pressing out any air bubbles as you go. Turn the battenberg over so it’s sitting on the seamed side, then dust off any icing sugar. Trim off both ends to form neat edges, then slice and serve.
A delicious Spring celebration cake. As the sponges are quite moist thanks to the ground nuts, the lemon and pistachio battenberg cake will keep in the fridge for up to two days (although it’s at its best on the day it’s made).