Finals Week Technical Bake: Mary Berry's Battenberg Cake

Finals Week Technical Bake: Mary Berry's Battenberg Cake

Judge Mary Berry keeps the bakers in check with the "Finals Week" technical challenge. The bakers are tasked with making a quintessentially British recipe, a Battenberg Cake. This cake features a checkerboard pattern with delicately cut and stacked sponge. A homemade jam is sandwiched in between the layers and the cake is then covered with marzipan. Check out the full recipe below and be sure to watch the full episode of "Finals Week" from The Great American Baking Show Season 2 Episode 8.


For the cake:

8 oz butter, softened

8 oz superfine sugar

4 large eggs

8 oz self- raising flour

2 ½ oz ground almonds

½ teaspoon almond extract

Pink food coloring

For the apricot jam:

8 oz apricots, quartered, stoned and roughly chopped 

8 oz jam sugar

For the marzipan:

8 oz ground almonds

4 oz powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting

4 oz superfine sugar

1 large egg

¾ teaspoon almond extract

For the royal icing: 

9 oz powdered sugar

1 large egg white

½ teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon glycerine

Pink food coloring


1. For the cake, preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 10 x 8inch rectangle, shallow cake tin.

2. Cut out a piece of greaseproof foil paper that is 4 inches longer than the length of the tin. 

3. Make two folds along the width of the paper, one 5-1/2 inches from one end and the other 4 ½ inches from the other end, leaving a 4 inch gap in the middle.

4. Open out the paper, greaseproof paper side up and push up the centerfold to make a 2-inch pleat. Line the base of the tin with this, making any adjustments to ensure the pleat divides the tin making in effect two rectangular 'tins' (One 5 ½ inches & one 4 ½ inches) within the tin.

5. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and pale in color. Add the eggs one at a time, then fold in the flour, ground almonds and almond essence until smooth and glossy looking.

6. Spoon two fifths of the mixture into smaller (41/2 inch) side of the prepared tin as neatly as possible.

7. Add some pink food coloring to the remaining mixture to turn it a mid pink color, then spoon it into the larger ( 5 ½ inch ) side of the tin. Smooth the surface of each half and check to make sure the paper divider is still. 

8. Bake in the oven for 30-50 minutes or until the cake is well risen, springy to the touch and has shrunk slightly from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then loosen the cake from the sides with a round bladed knife, turn it out, peel off the parchment liner and finish cooling on a wire rack.

9. For the jam, place the apricots in a small deep-sided saucepan and bash them with a wooden spoon. Add the sugar and bring to the boil over a low heat until the sugar has melted. Increase the heat and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully pour into a shallow container. Leave to cool and chill to set. 

10. For the almond paste, mix the ground almonds extra fine sugar and confectioners sugar together in a bowl. Stir in the egg and almond extract. Knead in the bowl to form a stiff paste but do not over-knead, as this will make the paste oily. Wrap in cling film and chill.

11. For the royal icing, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until they are frothy. Add the icing sugar to the egg white, a spoonful at a time and fold in.

12. Add the lemon juice and glycerine and stir. Beat the icing until it is very stiff and white and stands up in peaks.

13. Spoon half the royal icing into a piping bag fitted with a no 3-writing nozzle. Add a little pink food coloring to the remaining icing and mix to a mid color to match the pink sponge. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle.

14. Trim the crispy outer edges off the cooled cakes with a serrated knife. Cut the plain sponge and trim if necessary into 4 equal strips. Cut the pink sponge and trip if necessary into 5 equal square strips. You need 5 pink and 4 plain striped of equal size.

15. Gently heat the apricot jam in a pan and pass through a sieve. Use the warmed jam to stick the cake together to make a checkerboard effect, 3 layers of 3. Brush the top of the assembled cake with apricot jam.

16. Roll the almond paste out, on a work surface lightly dusted with sifted icing sugar, into an oblong length of the cake and sufficiently wide to wrap around the cake.

17. Invert the cake on to the almond paste; positioning it so that when you lift up once long side, it perfectly covers one side of the cake (this way the join will be neatly in the corner). Brush the remaining sides with apricot jam.

18. Brush off any crumbs from the marzipan and work surface. Roll the cake over in the marzipan, pressing to neatly cover it, then brush the corner join lightly with water, pressing it to seal. (Try to avoid touching the marzipan with wet fingers, as they will mark it. Turn the cake over so that the join is underneath. Trim a slim slice from each end of the cake to neaten and show off the checkerboard effect. Smooth the marzipan over with your hands so their warmth will give it a smooth finish.

19. Score the top of the cake with ½ inch long diagonal lines using a sharp knife. Pipe white icing along the diagonal lines from left to right across the cake, then right to left across the cake to form a lattice.

20. Pipe a border of pink icing around the top of the cake. 


1. You must be precise with your measurements in order to have enough sponge of each color to get everything in the correct portions.

2. Do not over mix the cake or it may rise then sink. 

3. Precision is key, in order to assemble the Battenberg properly. 

4. If the cake is over baked it will be crumbly, if under baked it will come out soggy. 

{showname}News & BlogsRecipesFinals Week Technical Bake: Mary Berry's Battenberg Cake