Battenberg cake

This article is about the type of cake. For other uses, see Battenberg.
Battenberg Cake

A homemade Battenberg Cake, showing the typical chequered pink-and-yellow squares
Type Sponge cake
Place of origin United Kingdom
Main ingredients Flour
Cookbook: Battenberg Cake  Media: Battenberg Cake

Battenberg[1] or Battenburg[2] is a light sponge cake with the pieces covered in jam. The cake is covered in marzipan and, when cut in cross section, displays a distinctive two-by-two check pattern alternately coloured pink and yellow (which also gave its name to Battenburg markings).

The cake is made by baking a yellow and a pink sponge cake separately, and then cutting and combining the pieces in a chequered pattern. The cake is held together by apricot jam and covered with marzipan.[3]


While the cake originates in England, its exact origins are unclear,[4][5] with early recipes also using the alternative names "Domino Cake" (recipe by Agnes Berthe Marshall, 1898), "Neapolitan Roll" (recipe by Robert Wells, 1898),[6] or "Church Window Cake". The cake was purportedly named in honour of the marriage of Princess Victoria, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, to Prince Louis of Battenberg in 1884. The name refers to the town of Battenberg, Hesse in central Germany and is the seat of the aristocratic family known in Britain as Mountbatten.[7]

According to The Oxford Companion to Food, the name "Battenberg cake" first appeared in print in 1903.[8] However, a "Battenburg cake" appeared in: Frederick Vine, Saleable Shop Goods for Counter-Tray and Window … (London, England: Office of the Baker and Confectioner, 1898).[4][9]

The black and white checkers on emergency vehicles in the UK are officially referred to as Battenberg markings because of their resemblance to the checkered pattern of the Battenberg cake.[10]

American variation

In the United States, there is a related confection called a checkerboard cake named because, as with a Battenberg cake, when it is sliced open it resembles the board for the game draughts, known in the U.S. as "checkers", which is played on a "checkerboard". A typical checkerboard cake is one that alternates between vanilla and chocolate flavoured sponge cake and has a very rich chocolate buttercream icing. Unlike the British Battenberg, it does not typically use marzipan and utilizes a special springform pan to get the desired effect.[11]

See also


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Battenberg cake.
  1. "Battenberg". Oxford dictionary. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  2. "Definition of "Battenburg"". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  3. Cook, Sarah (March 2011). "Battenberg Cake". Good Housekeeping. BBC. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  4. 1 2 Food History Jottings. "Battenburg Cake - the Truth".
  5. Foods of England. "Battenberg Cake". Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  6. Food History Jottings. "Battenburg Cake History Again!". Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  7. John Ayto, The Diner's Dictionary: Food and Drink from A to Z (Oxford, England : Routledge, 1993), p. 22.
  8. Davidson, Alan, The Oxford Companion to Food, 3rd ed. (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 67.
  9. In the 1907 edition, see p. 136.
  10. "Minor British Institutions: Battenberg cake". The Independent. 2010-11-13. Retrieved 2016-05-03.
  11. "Checkerboard Cake". Retrieved 7 November 2016
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