One of Edward Hayden's favourite Christmas baked treats.
"Christmas, and indeed the food we eat at Christmas, is very much steeped in tradition and nostalgia and there are so many different brands of sweets, biscuits, and chocolates that we all continue to buy year after year. Well, Christmas baking is a little like that also and our household at Christmas always enjoyed a Battenberg Cake, or chapel window cake as we called it, and so I now look forward to making a delicious version every year." – Edward Hayden.
8oz/225g softened butter
8oz/225g caster sugar
4 large eggs
½ teaspoon almond extract
5oz/150g self-raising flour
3oz/75g ground almonds
Red food colouring
For the decoration:
2 tablespoons apricot jam
a little caster sugar
- Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3
- One of the biggest challenges is to line the tin properly. Grease and line an 8inch/20cm tin with baking parchment. Divide the tin in half with a strip of foil folded into a double thickness.
- In a large mixing bowl cream together the softened butter with the icing sugar until light and fluffy.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and then add them to the butter and sugar mixture.
- Sieve the flour and ground almonds into the mixture at this stage also and continue to beat well for a further 2-3 minutes.
- Take half of the mixture and pour it into one half of the lined baking tin. Add a little red food colouring to the remaining cake mixture, mix well to ensure an even colour and transfer this mixture into the other side of the cake tin. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Invert onto a wire rack immediately, press down lightly to level the surface and allow to cool.
- To assemble the cake, separate the coloured sponges and place one sponge on top of the other and trim off the crusty edges so they are both the same size. Cut the sponges in half lengthways to make four long rectangles (two plain, two pink)
- Warm the apricot jam in a saucepan with a little water and allow it to come to the boil.
- Brush the long side of one of the sponges with jam and sandwich together with a sponge of a contrasting colour. Do the same with the other two sponges. Sandwich the two pairs of sponges together like a checkerboard, levelling the edges again and brush the top and sides with the boiled apricot jam.
- Meanwhile, with a little icing sugar dusted onto the work surface, roll out the marzipan into a rectangular shape and leaving the edges exposed, wrap the marzipan around the cake, trimming off any excess marzipan.
- With the leftover marzipan cut out some shapes using small heart and star-shaped biscuit cutters and brush them lightly with a little water and sprinkle with caster sugar. Brush the entire surface of the cake lightly with some water also and sprinkle a little caster sugar over all the sides of the cake also. Once the heart and star marzipan shapes have dried out a little, using them to decorate the top of the cake.