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How do you make Battenberg? Bake Off 2020 signature challenge explained

Everything you need to make the colourful British bake, which will make for a perfect at home tea party!

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Published: Tuesday, 22nd September 2020 at 8:19 pm

Viewers tuned in tonight for the return of The Great British Bake Off.


Great British Bake Off judges and hosts Prue Leith, Paul Hollywood, Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas welcomed a new batch of bakers to the famous tent.

Rolling up their sleeves and flouring their surfaces, The Great British Bake Off contestants showed off their skills in a bid to be crowned this week's star baker and keep their spot in the competition.

For their first signature challenge, they were tasked with making a traditional Battenberg cake with their own spin.

So, if you fancy making the quintessential British bake, or are feeling more like a Star Baker and want to make a Battenberg with a twist, here's what you need to do...

What is a Battenberg cake?

Battenberg - also spelt Battenburg - is a light sponge cake held together with jam. The cake is covered in marzipan and, when cut in cross section, displays a distinctive two-by-two check pattern often alternately coloured pink and yellow.

Battenberg recipe

This recipe from makes two cakes, each cut into 10 slices and can be frozen (use half the recipe for one cake).

Preparation time: 2hrs

Cooking time: 1hr



For almond sponge

  • 175g very soft butter
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3 medium eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp almond extract

For pink sponge

  • 1 x ingredients for almond sponge
  • pink food colouring, we used ½ tsp Squires rose food paste

To assemble

  • 200g apricot jam
  • 2 x blocks white marzipan
  • little icing sugar, for dusting


  • STEP 1

    Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line the base and sides of a 20cm square tin with baking parchment (the easiest way is to cross 2 x 20cm-long strips over the base). To make the almond sponge, put the butter, sugar, flour, ground almonds, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and almond extract in a large bowl. Beat with an electric whisk until the mix comes together smoothly. Scrape into the tin, spreading to the corners, and bake for 25-30 mins – when you poke in a skewer, it should come out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling while you make the second sponge.

  • STEP 2

    For the pink sponge, line the tin as above. Mix all the ingredients together as above, but don’t add the almond extract. Fold in some pink food colouring. Then scrape it all into the tin and bake as before. Cool.

  • STEP 3

    To assemble, heat the jam in a small pan until runny, then sieve. Barely trim two opposite edges from the almond sponge, then well trim a third edge. Roughly measure the height of the sponge, then cutting from the well-trimmed edge, use a ruler to help you cut 4 slices each the same width as the sponge height. Discard or nibble leftover sponge. Repeat with pink cake.

  • STEP 4

    Take 2 x almond slices and 2 x pink slices and trim so they are all the same length. Roll out one marzipan block on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar to just over 20cm wide, then keep rolling lengthways until the marzipan is roughly 0.5cm thick. Brush with apricot jam, then lay a pink and an almond slice side by side at one end of the marzipan, brushing jam in between to stick sponges, and leaving 4cm clear marzipan at the end. Brush more jam on top of the sponges, then sandwich remaining 2 slices on top, alternating colours to give a checkerboard effect. Trim the marzipan to the length of the cakes.

  • STEP 5

    Carefully lift up the marzipan and smooth over the cake with your hands, but leave a small marzipan fold along the bottom edge before you stick it to the first side. Trim opposite side to match size of fold, then crimp edges using fingers and thumb (or, more simply, press with prongs of fork). If you like, mark the 10 slices using the prongs of a fork.

  • STEP 6

    Assemble second Battenberg and keep in an airtight box or well wrapped in cling film for up to 3 days. Can be frozen for up to a month.

Bake it different

If you're feeling ambitious and want to do something different, you could follow these tips from Olive Magazine for an orange and lemon Battenberg, which is sure to add a little zest to a traditional Battenberg.


Instead of using almonds and pink food colouring, replace with the following for the sponge:

  • unwaxed lemons 2, zested
  • oranges 2, zested
  • orange food colouring gel
  • yellow food colouring gel

For the icing, use the following:

  • salted butter 70g, softened
  • icing sugar 180g, plus extra for dusting
  • thyme 3 sprigs, leaves stripped and finely chopped
  • lemon 1 unwaxed, ½ zested and 1½ tsp of juice
  • orange 1, zested and 1½ tsp of juice
  • white marzipan 300g

The Great British Bake Off is on Tuesdays on Channel 4 at 8pm. If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV guide.


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