Princess Victoria's Battenberg Cake

In the 18th and 19th centuries it was a common practice to name foods after members of royal families, especially upon important life’s events. Princess Victoria of Hesse was the granddaughter of Great Britain’s Queen Victoria. She was born on Easter Sunday in 1863. Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Alice was her mother.

Princess Alice, her mother, died when Princess Victoria was young. As a result, she left her childhood behind and helped raise her younger siblings. She was well-educated, an avid reader, researcher and map maker in later life.

She often met Prince Louis of Battenberg at family gatherings. He was her first cousin. He was German, but he had adopted British nationality. He served as an officer in the Royal Navy. Much to the chagrin of her father, they married in 1882. Her father believed that Prince Louis would take her away from his easy reach. That is exactly what happened. She lived in many places as she followed him to his various stations. They had children, the oldest of which was Alice. Alice was the mother of Great Britain’s Prince Phillip (Queen Elizabeth’s husband). In clearer terms … our Princess Victoria who married a Battenberg was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria … and she was the grandmother of our current Prince Phillip. She played a significant role in raising Prince Phillip because his mother was diagnosed schizophrenic when he was a child and was quietly institutionalized.

All that said, Princess Louis (Victoria) of Battenberg died in 1950 at the age of 87. She had lived during a time with British Royals abandoned their German roots and changed their names! She had visited her cousins in Russia and departed on the last train before the Russian Revolution resulted in the murders of her female cousins, the wife of Grand Duke Alexandrovich and Alex, the Tsarina. She had begged Alex to end her relationship with Rasputin, but to no avail.

She had flown in a zeppelin and a bi-plane, sitting on a stool hanging on to the back of the pilot. Her legacy, in her own writing, is “"What will live in history is the good work done by the individual and that has nothing to do with rank or title ...”

The Battenberg Cake was created in honor of the marriage of Princess Victoria and Prince Louis of Battenberg. Some food historians have different ideas, but I love this version! The original was made with flavored and colored sponge cakes. Vanilla for one cake and raspberry (pink) for the other cake. Layers of the cake were put together and placed in reverse, so they form a checkerboard pattern. The layers were stuck together with raspberry jam and the entire cake was covered with almond paste.

As usual, I’ve taken liberty with the recipe. A little food coloring for the pink batter and a creamy frosting … and we have a beautiful Battenberg style cake! It isn’t a perfect checkerboard, and I don’t care! Miss Phoebe enjoyed it with ice cream and that is all I really ever care about!

You can Google recipes for Battenberg Cake. You can use your favorite sponge cake recipe or a plain white cake recipe. You can make marzipan for the outside layer or you can buy it. You can replace it with fondant icing, which you can also buy already made!

I used a pound cake mix! 
Yes, I used a mix. I added
almond flavoring to it and tinted half the batter pink. I added raspberry flavoring to the pink batch. I baked my cakes in my thin square layer pans and had 4 layers. I love these little pans, because I don’t ever need a whole cake, so I froze two layers for later and used two layers for my take on the Battenberg Cake! You can trim the depth of your layers, so you have perfect squares showing in the slice … but unless you are a perfectionist … you don’t have do it! You already have to trim the crisp edges as you place the layers together … glued with jam. I used raspberry seedless jam.

I love jam cakes, and this is so very close. Jelly Rolls, a sponge cake spread with jam and rolled up to make spiral slices, is one of my favorites. My husband loved his grandmother’s jam cake, which was a simple yellow cake layer, sliced in half and spread with jam. Both these cakes just get a sprinkle of powdered sugar … no frosting. When I had a house filled with teenagers or college students, I used to bake white cupcakes and squirt jam in the center with a cake decorating bag. Then a quick drop of frosting was all they needed.

The Battenberg Cake is easy to assemble. Trim the crisp edges from each layer. Spread one layer with jam and place the other layer on top. I let this rest for about 30 minutes, so it was ‘stuck’! Now you begin to create! Slice the cake in slices that are about the same width as a layer is thick. Assemble the slices in reverse, but first you need to spread more jam on the cut edge so glue those sections together. Build the second layer the same way and spread more jam to glue all the sections together. I wrapped this little cake in cellophane and let it rest for a couple hours. I frosted mine with a simple powdered sugar icing made with 2 cups of powdered sugar, a Tablespoon of soft butter and a few drops of milk. I didn’t flavor the icing, but you can if you want.

The end result is really pretty … almost cute!

This post is a part of my 2021 special project … Foods Named After Famous People!

I’ll share it with a couple blog parties, so check the short list on my sidebar.

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