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Now it is fair to say I like a nice cake, indeed there is yet to be a cake invented that I did not like, and top of my list has to be the delectable and eye catching Battenberg, pink and yellow sponge squares glued together with apricot jam to produce a chequerboard effect and encased in marzipan, pure heaven in cake form.
Before we get to the fabled taste test I feel a little history lesson is called for, after all a cake does not end up looking like the Battenberg for no reason. Popular belief has it that the four quarters of sponge honour the four Battenberg princes, Louis, Alexander, Henry and Francis and the cake was first made to mark the occasion of Prince Louis marriage to Princess Victoria of Hesse-Darmstadt. During the war with Germany the family decided it should anglicize its name in the face of anti-German feeling and the Battenberg family name was changed to Mountbatten, thankfully the cake kept its original Battenberg name.
So that’s the History lesson over for today, after all we are not here to learn. The Lyons Battenberg is packed in a cardboard sheaf and is wrapped in clear polythene to enable potential buyers to see the cake in all of its glory. The cardboard sheaf is taken up with enticing pictures of sliced Battenberg and the Lyons company crest explaining that they have been baking cakes since 1908. The bottom of the cardboard sheaf is given over to Ingredients and Nutritional information with the Ingredient list offering no real surprises as far as cakes go, needless to say that sugar is the top listed constituent with the marzipan making up 40% of the finished product. The calorific value is quite high with the whole 230g cake notching up a belly busting 990 kcals. The Lyons Battenberg is also not for the intolerant as it contains Egg, milk, Soya, wheat and nuts, on the plus side it is artificial colour free. If you are tempted to buy one of these delicious cakes they retail between the £1 and £1.20 mark, money well spent in my opinion. A larger version is also available called the Lyons Family Battenberg, this weighs in at a wholesome 300g and retails at around the £1.50 price.
Enough waffle already! Let’s try the cake, pulling off the polythene wrapper releases a faint almond scent from the marzipan. A sniff of the sponge reveals a subtle sweet smell that gets the mouth watering in anticipation. Cutting the cake is easy with a sharp knife gliding effortlessly through with minimal squashing or misshaping. My first bite detaches a pink square of sponge with marzipan attached, the cake almost melts in the mouth and requires very little chewing. I can just make out the flavour of the apricot jam which is used to hold the sponge and marzipan together and all of the flavours compliment each other to perfection. My second bite reveals more of the same, the texture of the marzipan is a delightful contrast to the softness of the sponge, this really is the king of cakes. Sadly I cannot stop at one slice and the whole 230g slab is soon reduced to little more than a few wayward crumbs. Surprisingly I do not feel terribly bloated or sick after wiping out the entire cake, I believe this has to do with the lightness of the sponge.
It can be little else but the full five stars for me, seldom do such simple ingredients like sponge and marzipan combine to make such a delicious and moorish cake, and the beauty of the Battenberg is in its simplicity. I urge you to buy one immediately just so you can see what I mean.