Battenberg Cake is a popular sweet cake, often served with afternoon tea.
It’s square in cross section, but long and rectangular, made from sponge and wrapped in yellow marzipan (a sweet almond paste).
Within the square cross section there are four squares, two each of lemon coloured sponge and two of pink. The most popular theory for this pattern is that it was created in 1884 to commemorate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter to Prince Louis of Battenberg. Each of the four squares represents each of the four Battenberg princes: Louis, Alexander, Henry and Francis Joseph.
The name Battenberg has further connections with the British royal family – the aforementioned Prince Louis of Battenberg changed his name to the British version of the name – Mountbatten – during the first world war at the suggestion of King George V as anti German sentiment was running high. Indeed it was during that war that the royal family adopted the name Windsor from the somewhat Germanic “House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha”. Prince Louis’ son – also named Louis – was a much loved and respected member of the royal family – best known as Earl Mountbatten of Burma until his death in 1979 at the hands of the Provisional IRA.
The distinctive chequered pattern of Battenberg cake has also given its name to the fluorescent patterns used to identify police and emergency vehicles in many European countries.