St George’s Day battenberg cake

by Lesley Holdship

Lesley Holdship’s red-velvet-and-vanilla recreation of the traditional British confection


For the vanilla cake:
175g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
175g self raising flour
2 tsp vanilla extract 

For the red velvet cake:
200g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
1tsp baking powder
100g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp red food colouring (bake stable)
150g buttermilk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the icing:
100g butter
100g cream cheese
400g icing sugar, sifted
800g natural marzipan


Preheat the oven to 180C. Line 2 x 900g loaf tins.

For the vanilla cake, cream the butter and sugar until light and creamy, then add the eggs 1 at a time. Mix really well, until everything is incorporated.

Stir in the flour and vanilla and then beat well, until fluffy. Scrape into 1 of the tins and get the cake into the oven. Bake for 25-30 mins, until springy.

Meanwhile, make the red velvet cake. First off, stir the flour, cocoa and baking powder together. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together and then mix in the eggs, 1 at a time. Next, stir in the vanilla and red colouring. Add the flour and cocoa mix, along with the buttermilk, and beat well to combine.

Stir together the lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda, pour into the cake batter and mix well. Scrape the mixture into the second tin and bake for 25-30 mins.

Let both cakes cool completely.

Make the icing by beating together the butter and cream cheese, then adding the icing sugar. This is likely to create big clouds of sugar dust, so go carefully at the offset!

Take each cake and slice off a hefty bit from the top and cut a sliver from the bottom and sides, resulting in a neat rectangle. Cut each cake in 2 lengthways so you end up with 4 pieces of cake, each with a square end of around 5cm.

Sandwich 2 opposite colours together side by side with some of the icing, then spread more icing over the top. Place the remaining 2 pieces of cake on top, alternating the colours.

Dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan until it is about the size of an A4 piece of paper. Spread a rectangle of icing on to the marzipan, about the size of the cake.

Sit the cake on top and ice the very top. Carefully lift the marzipan up over the cake, using the palm of your hand to support the sides, and then press it to the cake. Trim any excess so the seam is not too bulky. Roll the cake over so the seam is on the bottom, then trim any excess marzipan from the ends for a neat finish.

It is now ready to serve, in thick slices preferably, with a cup of tea!

Recipe: Lesley Holdship