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Rachel Allen’s battenberg is a classic afternoon tea treat that brightens up the table with its jolly coloured sponge squares.
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4, then butter the sides of a 20cm square cake tin and line the base with a square of baking parchment.
Cut out another square of baking parchment the same size as the base of the tin, using the tin as a template to draw around. Fold in one side by 3cm to form a flap, then fold the opposite side by the same amount to make a second flap.
Fold the paper in half parallel to the folds for the flaps, folding over the middle section so that there is a flap on each side and viewed from the side, the folded shape looks like an upside-down letter ‘T’. This will be used as a partition to separate the two different coloured sponges.
Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Gradually add the eggs, beating all the time, then beat in the milk and sift in the flour, folding it in to combine.
Divide the mixture between two bowls, adding a few drops of the pink food colouring to one of the bowls and mixing in.
Place the paper shape in the centre of the tin so that it stands upright with the central fold uppermost and the flaps facing down, flat against the base of the tin. You’ll see that the paper now forms a partition with a compartment on either side.
Supporting the paper with one hand, pour one of the batters into one compartment. Continuing to hold the paper so that it doesn’t cave in under the weight of the first batter, pour the second bowlful of batter into the other compartment. You can then take your hand off the paper as it should now be held upright by the batter pressing in on either side. You might want to ask someone to hold the paper ‘wall’ steady while you pour in the batter.
Place the filled cake tin in the oven with the partition in place and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of each section of cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then, loosening round the edges using a small, sharp knife, carefully remove the cake from the tin and place on the wire rack to cool down completely.
When the cake is cool, divide it in half so you have a rectangle in each colour. Then cut each section in half lengthways so you have two rectangles in each colour. Trim all the edges so each rectangle has the same dimensions. The cross section should be a square, with the width the same as the depth.
Push the jam through a sieve and using a palette knife, spread the jam over two adjoining sides of each rectangle of cake, then stick them together along the jammed sides to form a chequerboard pattern when viewed from the end of the cake.
Roll out the marzipan on a work surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. It should be rolled out into a rectangle the same length as the cake and four times the width, with any excess trimmed away.
Spread the remaining jam over the marzipan, then place the cake along one edge so that cake and marzipan align lengthways, and roll up the cake in the marzipan. Cut off each end of the cake to neaten, then cut into slices to serve.
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