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Battenberg

Categories: Friday feeling

A gluten, wheat and dairy-free take on a retro tea time treat from The Free From Bakehouse

It’s been a long time since Friday feeling sampled a battenberg. For one thing, the pink and yellow checks have become somewhat synonymous with highly processed versions of this English delicacy. For another—well, to be quite frank, battenberg has always struck us as rather quaint. That pink may just about pass as millennial, but the yellow is the yellow of school boaters, old Formica tables, and powdered desserts—all of which are lovely, but definitely of their time (the 1960s) and place (our grandmothers’ houses).

So you can imagine our surprise when our eyes caught the tell-tale colours and sleek marzipan robe at The Free From Bakehouse. “It’s old fashioned, but it’s still in fashion,” smiles owner Caroline, pointing out that it’s “a British afternoon classic, that looks impressive and appeals to Borough’s overseas visitors”—as well as local ones. The former like to find the odd British cake in Borough’s smorgasbord, the latter “recognise it as something they’ve had at some time in their lives, bringing them not only a trip down memory lane in the chequered coloured sponge but a cake that tastes great, despite being gluten, wheat and dairy free.”

You wouldn’t know it. The marzipan is ivory smooth, heady with real almonds, while the delicate sponge is as buttery as if it had actual butter in it. This too is a result of ground almonds. The jam is a comforting, caramelly apricot number, subtly squidged betwixt marzipan and squares. The cake cries out for a cuppa: not for want of moisture—far from it—but because we defy you to see something so old-school, so traditional, so quintessentially British as battenberg, and not be overwhelmed by the desire to put the kettle on.