Better Baking Academy: Red Velvet Battenberg Cake

Sponsored Content

red velvet Battenberg cake

For our December lesson of the Better Baking Academy, we tackle a true classic of afternoon tea with a festive twist: Red Velvet Battenberg Cake. Made up of the perfect combination of richly flavored and delicate layers of red velvet and vanilla cakes, filled with strawberry jam, and enrobed in marzipan, this cake is a classic for a reason. When combined with the timeless flavors of Southern red velvet cake, this checkerboard cake becomes even more decadent and festive. The cake’s soft, tender interior is achieved using Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour matched with the light and nutty addition of Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour. We take you through every step of creating this patterned cake, from making homemade marzipan to constructing and assembling your cake. A true showstopper, this cake is sure to be a hit at every holiday party this season. Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson, or keep scrolling to view our digital lesson.

Ingredient Breakdown

Ingredient Breakdown

Great recipes require great ingredients. Here’s how each ingredient creates the ultimate Red Velvet Battenberg Cake. 

Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour: For the delicate crumb of this cake, a special flour that balances between soft and hard is needed. This versatile all-purpose wheat flour has a protein content of 10% to 12%, so our cake is tender but has enough gluten structure to form a rich crumb that’ll hold together when it comes time to slice and layer it.

Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour: Almond flour provides both nutty almond flavor and delicate texture to this cake. Because almonds are so high in natural fats, the addition of almond flour in this cake also adds a whole other level of tenderness to each bite.

Unsalted Butter: Butter brings tender, rich milk fat to baked goods, but it has another purpose in this cake. For our recipe, we creamed softened butter and sugar together, a classic technique that whips air pockets into the batter. Cakes that use the creaming method will be fluffy and lofty while simultaneously ensuring a melt-in-your-mouth interior.

Granulated Sugar: Partnered with the butter, sugar brings more than sweetness to this Battenberg cake. During the creaming method, the sharp sugar crystals that make up granulated sugar break into the dense fat of the butter, creating little pockets of air. The result is a beautifully soft, fluffy sponge.

Eggs: Eggs bring richness through their yolks and moisture through their whites, but they also help leaven baked goods. Eggs act as a giant emulsifier in cakes, trapping and protecting the air bubbles created during the butter and sugar creaming process. During baking, the egg emulsion keeps these air bubbles from collapsing, helping the batter bake up into a lofty and beautiful cake. 

Vanilla Extract: Vanilla complements and enhances the notes of almond and cocoa in our recipe.

Baking Powder: Most cakes don’t require large amounts of chemical leavening agents, as much of their height is achieved through creamed butter and sugar and the addition of eggs. However, the richness of the almond flour in this recipe can weigh down the batter. A little bit of baking powder helps alleviate that issue. 

Kosher Salt: We bake with kosher salt because, unlike most commercial salt, it doesn’t contain iodine, making it taste purer and more palatable. Also, the salt crystals are larger. Table salt is much finer, so you would use half of what a recipe with kosher salt calls for.

Heavy Whipping Cream: Dairy improves both flavor and texture in cakes, but heavy whipping cream imparts that special boost of rich milk fat. Heavy whipping cream has a high milk fat content of at least 36%, a richness that makes all it touches creamier and more tender. This simple addition to the cake batter helps create the moist, velvety crumb we’re after.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Unlike Dutch process cocoa powder, which acts as a neutral, unsweetened cocoa powder is acidic and bitter, with a very strong and concentrated chocolate flavor. In this recipe, it adds to the classic slight tang red velvet cakes are known for.

Red Liquid Food Coloring: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but red food coloring is the key to the signature color of red velvet cake and, therefore, the checkerboard pattern of our Battenberg. Unlike gel food coloring, which is far more concentrated, liquid food coloring gives you a little more control over your cake’s red hue.

Seedless Strawberry Jam: While apricot jam is the traditional filling used for a Battenberg, the delicately sweet, fruity flavor of strawberry jam used for this cake beautifully complements the rich notes of cocoa in the red velvet layers while also tying into the festive coloration of the cake.

Red Velvet Battenberg Cake

Red Velvet Battenberg Cake

The traditional teatime Battenberg cake gets a sweet and festive holiday spin in this Red Velvet Battenberg Cake. Complete with a checkerboard of tender red velvet and vanilla cake layers, a simple spread of strawberry jam, and all blanketed in a sweet layer of Vanilla Marzipan, this cake is like a beautifully wrapped gift that keeps on giving.

Red Velvet Battenberg Cake
 
Makes 1 (7½-inch) cake
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1¼ cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs (200 grams), room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups (188 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ cup (24 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  • ½ cup (120 grams) heavy whipping cream, room temperature and divided
  • 2 tablespoons (10 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) red liquid food coloring
  • ½ cup (160 grams) seedless strawberry jam
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • Vanilla Marzipan (recipe follows)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with baking spray with flour. Cut a sheet of parchment paper into at least a 16¼x8-inch rectangle. Fold in half widthwise. From center fold, fold over a 2-inch section. Place parchment in prepared pan with 2-inch section standing up in center to form a divider.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and granulated sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with ¼ cup (60 grams) cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Transfer half of batter (about 2 cups or 472 grams) to another medium bowl; fold in 2 tablespoons (30 grams) cream just until combined.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa, food coloring, and remaining 2 tablespoons (30 grams) cream until smooth. Fold cocoa mixture into remaining batter until combined. Spoon each batter into one side of prepared pan. Using a small offset spatula, smooth flat; run tip of spatula through each batter. Tap pan on a kitchen towel-lined counter to help release air bubbles.
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center of each cake comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack. Using a serrated knife, trim each cake into 2 approximately 7½x1½x1½-inch rectangles.
  6. In another small bowl, whisk jam until smooth.
  7. Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners’ sugar. On sugar-dusted surface, roll Vanilla Marzipan into a 13½x9½-inch rectangle (about ⅛ inch thick). (You can turn the marzipan over before building the cake if you do not want any confectioners’ sugar to be on the outside of the cake.) Spread jam on one side of one piece of vanilla cake, and place, jam side down, on marzipan; spread jam on remaining sides of vanilla cake piece. Spread jam on one side of one piece of red velvet cake, and place, jam side down, next to vanilla cake piece on marzipan; spread jam on exposed sides of red velvet cake piece, and top with remaining vanilla cake piece. Spread jam on exposed sides of vanilla cake piece, and place remaining red velvet cake piece next to it; spread jam on exposed sides of red velvet cake piece. Gently press all cake pieces together.
  8. Trim marzipan flush with ends of cake. Carefully wrap marzipan around cake, gently pressing to smooth out air pockets and seal. Trim off any excess marzipan if there is any overlap. Place, seam side down, on a serving platter, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Before serving, score marzipan in a checkerboard pattern, and trim each end.

Vanilla Marzipan
 
Makes about 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups (180 grams) confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1½ cups (144 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large pasteurized egg white (30 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons (8 grams) vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. In the work bowl of a food processor, place confectioners’ sugar, flour, and salt; pulse until combined. Add egg white and vanilla, and process until mixture holds together and has the consistency of softened butter.
  2. Lightly dust work surface with confectioners’ sugar. Turn out marzipan, and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, dusting with confectioners’ sugar as needed. Shape into a rectangle, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.

 

Making Your Marzipan 

A quick blitz in the food processor and a gentle kneading ensure a beautifully delicate marzipan

                                                     

1. In the work bowl of a food processor, place confectioners’ sugar, flour, and salt; pulse until combined. Add egg white and vanilla, and process until mixture holds together and has the consistency of softened butter. 

           

2. Lightly dust work surface with confectioners’ sugar. Turn out marzipan, and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, dusting with confectioners’ sugar as needed. Shape into a rectangle, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.

 

Prepping Your Pan

Our method allows you to bake both of your cake layers at once, ensuring even baking across the board

                                                                                      

1. Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with baking spray with flour. Cut a sheet of parchment paper into at least a 16¼x8-inch rectangle. Fold in half widthwise. From center fold, fold over a 2-inch section. Place parchment in prepared pan with 2-inch section standing up in center to form a divider. 

Note: If done correctly, the center divider will fall right at the 4-inch mark on your ruler. Adjust as needed to line up the divider right in the center of your pan, as this will ensure that both cakes end up the same size.

 

Coloring and Baking Your Batters

We show you how to festively color your batters and then pour them into your pan to bake them simultaneously

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and granulated sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. 

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with ¼ cup (60 grams) cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition.

                                                                

3. Transfer half of batter (about 2 cups or 472 grams) to another medium bowl; fold in 2 tablespoons (30 grams) cream just until combined.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa, food coloring, and remaining 2 tablespoons (30 grams) cream until smooth. Fold cocoa mixture into remaining batter until combined.

           

5. Spoon each batter into one side of prepared pan. Using a small offset spatula, smooth flat; run tip of spatula through each batter. Tap pan on a kitchen towel-lined counter to help release air bubbles.

6. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center of each cake comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

 

Assembling Your Cake

After your cake has cooled, it’s time to trim and assemble. We show you every step of the process, resulting in an elegant yet simple checkerboard-patterned cake.

        1. Using a serrated knife, trim each cake into 2 approximately 7½x1½x1½-inch rectangles. What’s most important here is that the cakes match in size. If you need to make the measurements smaller or you accidentally trim too much off one cake, just trim the same amount from the other cake. 

2. In a small bowl, whisk jam until smooth.

           

3. Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners’ sugar. On sugar-dusted surface, roll Vanilla Marzipan into a 13½x9½-inch rectangle (about ⅛ inch thick). (You can turn the marzipan over before building cake if you do not want any confectioners’ sugar to be on the outside of the cake). Spread jam onto one side of one piece of vanilla cake, and place, jam side down, on marzipan; spread jam onto remaining sides of vanilla cake piece. Spread jam onto one side of one piece of red velvet cake, and place, jam side down, next to vanilla cake piece on marzipan; spread jam onto exposed sides of red velvet cake piece, and top with remaining vanilla cake piece. Spread jam onto exposed sides of vanilla cake piece, and place remaining red velvet cake piece next to it; spread jam onto exposed sides of red velvet cake piece. Gently press all cake pieces together.

           

4. Trim marzipan flush with ends of cake. Carefully wrap marzipan around cake, gently pressing to smooth out air pockets and seal. Trim off any excess marzipan if there is any overlap. Place, seam side down, on a serving platter, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Refrigerating will help set the jam and make it easier to get a clean cut when it’s time to slice and serve the cake.

           

5. Before serving, score marzipan in a checkerboard pattern, and trim each end. To score the marzipan, simply run a knife over it in diagonal lines, being sure not to press so hard that you slice through the marzipan. Then, repeat with diagonal lines going in the opposite direction. Trim each end of the cake for a clean, finished look.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Rate this recipe:  

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.