Peek-a-boo Battenburg

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I found a lovely looking cake on BBC Good Food and thought I just had to try it.  I love Battenburg cake, which is usually a square of four equal squares, two pink and two ‘white’, pasted together with apricot jam and covered with marzipan.  So this Peek-a-boo version, where you use four layers of cake to create a chequer board pattern inside the cake when the layers are placed on top of each other.  Then, of course it is finished off with a covering of marzipan.

So, as you would expect there is quite a bit to do, and I was not entirely sure how successful my attempt would be, since it is more than I had tried before.  But I thought I would give it a go.

Certainly my sponge cakes turned out well enough, even though one was sloping slightly.  I had to work out how to use it, since I needed all four cakes.  In the event it may not be perfect but I think it is not a bad effort.

The cake also calls for rose water to be used in the pink cakes and in the apricot jam.  I was a bit concerned that it may be too much rose flavour, since I bought a rather expensive bottle of the stuff.  Certainly you can taste it, and it might not be to everybodies’ liking but for me it is fine.

Another thing used in the pink cake is colouring, and I bought a tube of shocking pink.  Well that hardly seemed enough at all, since I was aware that the colour would dissipate during baking.  So I added some red colouring from a bottle as well.

Once the cakes are baked and fully cooled and chilled to firm them up, they have to be cut up, into 3 circles each, with the middle circle of the pink cakes being inserted into the white cakes and vice versa.  That, when they are all placed on top of each other is what creates the chequer board effect.

The next issue was to roll out enough marzipan to cover the cake.  Rolling anything is not my forte, but I persevered and got there in the end.

All in all I am quite pleased with the result, and love the taste.

Peek-a-boo Battenburg

Peek-a-boo Battenburg – Video

For the almond sponge:

  • 225g very soft salted butter, plus a little extra for greasing
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 85g ground almond
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 1 tbsp milk

For the rose sponge:

  • 225g very soft salted butter
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 85g ground almond
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • a little artificial pink food colouring

To assemble and ice:

  • jar of apricot jam( I used jam with no bits, to save straining it)
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • a little icing sugar, for dusting
  • 2 x 500g packs white marzipan


  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease and line the base of 2 x 18cm round sandwich tins with baking parchment.
  2. Start with the almond sponge: put all the ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk until the mix comes together smoothly. 
  3. Weigh the mixture and spread exactly half into each tin. 
  4. Bake for 30 mins – when you poke a skewer into the middle, it should come out clean. 
  5. Cool in the tins for 15 mins, then carefully turn out onto wire racks to finish cooling while you make the second sponge.
  6. Clean the tins, then grease and line as above. 
  7. Beat together the butter, sugar, flour, ground almonds, eggs, vanilla, rose water and milk as above. When smooth, beat in a little pink food colouring, bit by bit, until you get a nice colour – it will fade a little during baking, so you can go slightly stronger than you want the finished sponge. 
  8. Weigh, divide between the tins and bake as above. 
  9. Cool in the same way.
  10. Once the sponges are cool, cover gently and chill for 30 mins – this will make cutting them easier and neater.
  11. Unwrap the sponges and, if they have domed in the centre, trim to flatten. 
  12. Cut a 6cm diameter circle out of the centre of each sponge (a 6cm biscuit cutter is ideal, or make yourself a paper template) and set aside. 
  13. Then cut a 12cm diameter circle from the centre of each sponge by tracing a knife around a plate of the same diameter (or use another paper template). So from each sponge you should end up with a 6cm circle, a 12cm ring and an 18cm ring.
  14. Swap the middle rings of the almond sponges with the middle rings from the rose sponges, and fit the cut pieces back together. 
  15. Handle the sponges very gently, to avoid cracking or crumbling up the edges too much. You should end up with 4 sponges that look like targets.
  16. Heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve and stir in the rose water. 
  17. Brush some over the top of one of the sponges and top with an alternating sponge. 
  18. Repeat to stack up all the layers. 
  19. Sit the cake on a serving plate or cake stand.
  20. Dust your work surface with a little icing sugar and roll out your marzipan until big enough to cover the cake (use a piece of string to measure the cake; see tip below).
  21. Brush some more jam all over the top and sides of the cake. Use your rolling pin to lift up the marzipan onto the cake, then ease it down the sides, pressing to stick. 
  22. Trim the marzipan from the base, then decorate the cake as you like. 
  23. Cut into wedges and serve with tea. Will keep for 3 days in an airtight container.

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