Pistachio and bay batternburg recipe - Ink Sugar Spice

Pistachio and raspberry/bay Battenburg

BattenburgRectangularSomething a little different from the traditional Battenburg, this cake incorporates pistachios and a fresh raspberry sauce which has been flavoured with bay leaf.

I have made my own marzipan, and have included the ingredients but please don’t think you have to do this – you can use shop bought (I do think it’s inferior but in the overall scheme of things you’d only notice if you’d recently eaten homemade). I will add the recipe I use for marzipan to another post. It is a very old marchpane (marzipan) recipe that I work from, but I note that it has not really altered for most modern chefs and cooks and many use the same ingredients (if in marginally different ratios).

I made the cake in a normal square cake pan, not one of those specialist Battenburg tins. I’ve taken images of how I prepped the tin, so anyone can follow

I have also chosen to make the cake in a 2 x 3 layout, rather than just 2 x 2 squares. This cake can be made into either – or even more geometric combinations. The cake is baked in two halves: one for each flavour and then you cut it accordingly. Normally in specialist Battenburg pans there are four cavities, one for each quarter.


  • Large bowl and two medium bowls
  • Food processor (at a pinch you could use a large pestle and mortar)
  • 20cm square cake tin
  • Plenty of greaseproof paper/baking parchment
  • Kitchen foil
  • Small saucepan
  • Fine sieve
  • Spatulas and wooden spoons
  • Large serrated knife (a bread knife is great for this)
  • Cake lifter or a couple of fish slices/large spatulas for moving the cake


  • Unsalted butter, softened – 175g (plus extra for greasing)
  • Caster sugar – 175g
  • Eggs, large – 3
  • Plain flour – 130g
  • Ground almonds – 40g
  • Pistachio paste -4 teaspoons
  • Fresh raspberries – 150g
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Baking powder – 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Fine salt – a pinch
  • A few drops each of green and pink food colouring (entirely optional)
  • Apricot jam for spreading/sticking the cake together and the marzipan on – you’ll need half a normal sized jar
  • Marzipan – make you own (ingredients are listed below and I will write a separate recipe post soon) or shop bought
  • Extra icing sugar to roll the marzipan out

For the marzipan

  • Ground almonds – 225g
  • Icing sugar – 225g
  • Egg white – about 40g (the white of one large egg or one and a ‘bit’ medium)
  • Lemon juice – 2 teaspoons
  • Almond essence – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Rose water – 1/4 teaspoon

Method – prepare the tin

  1. Take a large piece of kitchen foil and fold it over on itself at least twice to make a long strip, about 30 cm long and about 6 cm in depth
  2. Proffer it up to your baking tin to measure the size – it needs to span across the middle of the tin to divide it into half. Crease the foil to meet the sides of the tin exactly and leave the foil strip in the tin (for now)
  3. Grease the tin to help the greaseproof paper stick to the tin while you are measuring and cutting
  4. Cut a long strip of greaseproof paper to the width of the tin
  5. Place the long strip of paper into the cake tin and over the foil strip – crease the greaseproof paper so that it fits neatly into the tin, across one half of the bottom, up one side of the foil, down the other side of the foil, across the other half of the tin and then up the other sidefoil-paper
  6. Take out both foil and greaseproof paper
  7. As the greaseproof paper only covered the bottom and two sides of the tin, now cut two small strips of greaseproof to match the bare sides of the tin
  8. Grease the tin liberally, so that the paper will ‘stick’ to it
  9. Place the two small greaseproof sides into the tin
  10. Now add the foil strip again, bending one end to the left and one to the right (this stops one side of the cake from being smaller)
  11. Lay the large pre-creased greaseproof sheet on top and smooth all the corners downempty
  12. Your tin is ready – you will pour the pistachio batter in one side and the raspberry and bay in the otherfilled

Method – preparing the cake

  1. Put the raspberries in a saucepan and squash them with a wooden food or fork
  2. Place over a medium heat and ad the bay leaf
  3. Cook gently, stirring all the time, for about 3-4 minutes until the raspberries are very mushy and forming a thick juice
  4. Discard the bay leaf
  5. Push the raspberries through a sieve over one of the smaller bowls – you do not want the pips
  6. Turn the oven on to 160C fan / 180C conventional
  7. In the large bowl cream the sugar and butter together until they are lightened and a little fluffy
  8. Add one egg and a large spoonful of the flour and beat or whisk in
  9. Now add the send egg and another spoonful of flour and beat or whisk in
  10. Finally add the last (and third) egg and the remaining flour and the baking powder, ground almonds and salt and whisk in
  11. Now separate the batter evenly between the two smaller bowls (one will already have the raspberry juice in). You may want to weigh the bowls to ensure they are even
  12. Mix the raspberry juice into the cake mix in that bowl – now is the time to add a little food colouring if you want to and you think the colour of the sponge is not enough
  13. Gently spoon the raspberry mix into one half of your carefully prepared tin and smooth the top
  14. In the other bowl, mix in the pistachio paste and, again, add some green colouring if the sponge is not vibrant enough for you
  15. Spoon the pistachio mix into the other half of the tin and smooth it over
  16. Bake the cake for about 35 minutes
  17. Now is a good time to make the marzipan if doing this yourself – pulse the almonds and sugar together in a food processor. Then, put all the ingredients together and knead briefly until it is incorporated, but try not to over knead or it will become ‘sweaty’. If you’re doing this on a hot day, pop it in the fridge until you use it
  18. Check the cake is done by inserting a skewer into each side. Please note the top of the sponge bakes differently on both sides as the raspberry juice and the pistachio paste do alter the batter. However they do bake at the same rate: very fortunate!
  19. Leave to cool in the tin

Method – preparing the cake

  1. Once cooled (doesn’t have to be completely cold) carefully remove the two sponges from the cake tin and place them side-by-side on a board
  2. Level off the tops so they are flat
  3. Cut the sponges into two or three lengthways each (depending if you are doing a 2 x 2 or 3 x 2 cake)
  4. Place the long cake slices together as for constructing the cake (you are not doing this now) – you need to alternate between the colourspart-assembled
  5. Check they’re all even and trim off any areas now
  6. Roll out the marzipan on a your countertop or table that’s very liberally dusted with icing sugar. It needs to be larger than the cake
  7. Warm the apricot jam a little and either take out any lumpy bits or sieve it
  8. Spread some apricot jam over the middle of the marzipan, roughly the size of the cake (larger, not smaller than the cake itself)
  9. Spread the apricot jam over the first layer (that is two or three sponge strips) of sponge and make sure it goes in between where the sponge strips meet too – the jam needs to cover every side of each sponge strip (although don’t do the ends)
  10. Lift up the first layer and place it on the marzipan
  11. Repeat the jam spreading over the top layer, making sure the jam goes in between too
  12. Lift up the second layer and place it on the first
  13. They should already be done, but make sure the top and sides of the built-up cake is all jammy
  14. Trim off the marzipan to the front and back of the cake (you can already size this up)onMarzipan
  15. Lift up one side of the marzipan and smooth it up the side of the cake and partly over the top – trim the marzipan along the midline of the cake and remove the excess
  16. Repeat with the other side and trim it off midline, so it meets the other edge of the marzipan
  17. This join line will be the base of the cake
  18. Gently lift up the cake and invert it onto a cake board or plate
  19. If the ends need neatening up you can do this now with a sharp knife
  20. The Battenburg is now ready

Don’t throw away those trimmings from the sponge – these go great with some additional raspberries, a handful of nuts and some whipped cream or custard as an impromptu, messy but delicious dessert.





Alice in Wonderland Victorian fancies

victorianfondantfanciesandhanddrawnalicetagsThis was a little project I’ve been hatching for a while. It combines a bit of research into Victorian treats, a bit of illustration and drawing and some recipe reverse-engineering. It also marries an homage to Alice in Wonderland in its 150th birthday year (as I love the story and, in particular, John Tenniel’s original illustrations) to a ‘tea time treats’ challenge hosted by the Lavender & Lovage and HedgeComber blogs.

So, quite a list and suitably I’ve been working on it for some while (way before I stumbled on the Tea Time Treats challenge). One of the most tricky things for me on this project is that I don’t do ickle or dainty. I do try and make things look nice, but elaborate bakes are too time consuming to be an option for me as a working mum. My baking hobby has to get squeezed in between my normal day job and the rest of the chores. Plus, when I get time to bake patisserie is my go-to choice, not decoration. So, all in all, out of my comfort zone somewhat.

Tea Time TreatsTea time treats

This little project seemed to fit nicely with the June Tea Time Treats challenge run by the Lavender & Lovage and The Hedgecombers blogs (Karen Burns Booth and Jane Sarchet respectively) which calls for small cakes. I’ve not participated before.

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said

Because there are quite a few instructions just for the fondant fancies, I have not included either the recipe for the lemon and cucumber G&T in this post, else it would be a really long read:

Eat me

Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865, just four years after Mrs Beeton’s The Book of Household Management, so this should have proved a rich contemporary reference source for an appropriate recipe. I had already decided that I’d like a lemon sponge and read through Mme Beeton’s book and tried her recipe for lemon cake. Frankly, it was awful – doughy and oddly flavoured (the amount of orange flower water was a bit overkill). Many of her recipes have stood the test of time, but this one got fed to the blackbirds.

So, I went back to a more typical sponge ratio and concentrated on looking at construction and flavours from the contemporary period. I picked out an apricot jam filling and a marzipan covering, held in place by a layer of buttercream. I researched some contemporary food illustrations and settled on striped piping. To link to the Alice theme, I modelled some mini roses (white and then half painted in red, to mimic the book), a top hat or two and a Cheshire Cat to top off the cakes along with the pink pralines.

Drink me

The little cakes would definitely be the ‘eat me’ so I decided to have a ‘drink me’ item too and matched a G&T to the lemon flavour of the sponge with limoncello and lemon verbena. I also added a slice of cucumber, to evoke cucumber sandwiches in a British tea party – it was really lovely. The recipe is here.

Alice in Wonderland food tagsI’ve had such a curious dream

To link to Alice and give me an excuse to do a bit of drawing I drew up some eat me and drink me food tags. I was enjoying myself so much I ended up doing a few more…


  • 20cm x 20cm cake tin, greased and lined
  • Bowls
  • Palette knives: a small cranked handle one and a ‘normal’ large one
  • Rolling pin
  • Sharp knife
  • Piping bag with fine plain nozzle
  • Two circular tall biscuit cutters one about 5cm in diameter, the other about 6cm (just ensure that one cutter is quite a bit bigger than the other, as it will be used to cut the marzipan for the top of the fondants)
  • Whisk

Ingredients for the sponge

  • Caster sugar – 175g
  • Unsalted butter, softened – 175g
  • Plain flour – 175g
  • Eggs, medium – 3
  • Lemon – the zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Bicarbonate of soda – 1/2 teaspoon

Ingredients for the buttercream

  • Unsalted butter, softened – 200g
  • Icing sugar – 200g
  • Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon

Additional ingredients

  • 2 x 200g packs of coloured marzipan
  • Royal icing (make up from icing sugar and a little added water and egg white and some food colouring) or buy in
  • Apricot jam – you’ll need about half of a typical sized jar
  • Decorations for the top of the fondant fancies – you don’t have to make your own as I did – or you can leave plain

Method – sponge

  1. Turn the oven on to 150C fan / 160C conventional
  2. Cream the sugar and butter together, then combine all the other ingredients
  3. Smooth into the prepared cake tin
  4. Bake at the bottom of the oven for about 40 minutes – test with a skewer to see if it’s done; the skewer should come out clean
  5. Leave to cool in the tin and then remove onto a cutting board
  6. Using the smaller biscuit cutter, press out 16 rounds from the cakePress out 16 cake rounds from the sponge
  7. Cut each of the sponge rounds in half with a bread knife
  8. Spread the apricot jam onto the bottom half of each of the mini sponges and then sandwich the two back together
  9. Pop all 16 of the mini cakes in the freezer for an hour, as this will make the next steps much easier

Method – buttercream

  1. Prepare the buttercream while the cakes are in the freezer
  2. Gently stir the icing sugar into the softened butter to incorporate it without creating a cloud of icing dust
  3. Add the lemon juice and adjust the consistency with a little water or more icing sugar as you see fit
  4. Once incorporated roughly, you can then whisk it for about 3 minutes (the longer you whisk the smoother and fluffier the buttercream)
  5. Take the cakes out of the freezer and paste the buttercream onto the sides and the top, making a small dome on the top of the cake, to round it off
  6. buttercreamSmooth it a little, but don’t worry too much – it is getting covered in marzipan
  7. Leave the cakes while you prepare the marzipan and the royal icing
  8. Method – placing the marzipan
  9. Each of the marzipan packs will cover eight of the cakes pretty much exactly
  10. Roll out one of the marzipan packs very thinly. It needs to be thin for two reasons – you don’t want an overwhelming taste of marzipan drowning out the lemon of the sponge and it also ensures you have enough to cover all the cakes
  11. Measure the height of the cakes with a strip of paper – and cut a long strip out of the marzipan with its width matching this height. This strips will wrap around the sides of a cake.
  12. Make sure the strip is a little longer than the diameter of the cake (if you want to really check, use a piece of string to measure the cake diameter and then lie it down along the marzipan).
  13. Cut a round out of the marzipan using the larger cutter
  14. Trim the end of the strip of marzipan to have a straight edge
  15. Put this straightened end on to one of the cakes and press the marzipan strip all around, wrapping the sides of the cake
  16. Overlap the rough end over the original straight end and take a sharp knife and trim the excess so that it fits exactly
  17. Smooth the edges of the marzipan strip together a little with the back of a spoon or the edge of a knife
  18. Place the round you cut out on top, and again smooth the edges down to try to hide them a little
  19. Repeat for all the cakes, including swapping to the second marzipan pack, so that you eventually have 16 fondant fancies, with eight in each colour

Method – piping

  1. Make up your royal icing and add some food colouring. As I had both pink and blue marzipan, I chose to use a single colour for the piping – purple, as it would go nicely with both. They would look lovely, though, with a combination of two or three complimentary colours if you really wanted to take it even further
  2. Using a fine circular nozzle, start from the top centre of one of the cakes and draw out a line of piping slowly and slightly away from the cake
  3. Fig 1.

    Fig 1.

    To get as straight a line as possible, you need to not pipe directly on to the marzipan but pull the icing out and over the cake in one continuous stream and let it fall down one side to the bottom – almost as if you were using a piece of string – like in fig 1.

  4. Once you have one line done, start from the top again and pipe three more lines in turn, making a cross over the cake (effectively marking the cake into quarter pieces)
  5. Fig 2.

    Fig 2.

    Eventually you need to have twelve lines piped equally spaced apart around the cake – making those first four quarters just makes it more easy to do it evenly. I’d suggest you do it in order as in Fig 2, but however you think best to get twelve lines

  6. Repeat for all twelve cakes
  7. Use a large palette knife slid under each cake to move them, if you need to while the icing dries
  8. If you are using a decorative topper, such as pink pralines or modelled roses, Cheshire Cats and top hats, pipe a small blob of the royal icing in the middle at the top of the cake and push the topper gently into it

 “…go on till you come to the end: then stop.”