Maybe I’m just an oblivious schlub from the colonies, but I’d never heard of Battenberg cake until my boss mentioned it during a conversation about the wonderful things to be found at UK import shops.
The way it was described, it sounded like a wonderful blend of flavours: sponge cake plus marzipan plus apricot jam. I knew I had to try some, so off I went to British Pantry, the greatest little UK import shop in Calgary. There was one last cake left — it looked a little worse for wear, but I snatched it up anyway. For a $10 risk, I hoped for some sponge-cake reward.
The Pitch: “Chequered sponge sandwiched together with an apricot filling (8%), wrapped in almond flavoured paste (44%).” Also of note: “Proudly Baked in Britain with 100% British Wheat Flour”; “Baked with Free Range Eggs”; “100% Natural Flavours & No Artificial Colours.”
The Look: Sponge cake, divided into yellow and pink squares, wrapped in almond-flavoured paste. The squares are glued together with an apricot jam filling. My cake is a bit ratty looking (it’s a long trip between the UK and Calgary), so the paste is cracked off on the corners. The sponge is still soft and spongy, which is a tad alarming in a Twinkie-indestructibility kind of way. Reasonably heavy for the size.
The Taste: Very soft, verging on mushy texture to the almond-flavoured cake, with a granulated sugar crunch from the almond-flavoured paste. And woah, is that paste ever almond-flavoured. The colourful cake in the centre provides some pretty pizzaz, but the intense almond flavour is what you’re buying. It’s also tooth-rattlingly sweet, like so many British confections. It’s almost a bit too sweet for my tastes. That said, I wouldn’t raise any objections if someone plunked a piece down in front of me, especially if it came paired with a nice cup of strong tea.
RATINGS AND DETAILS
Cost: $9.99 for a 220-gram block of cake at British Pantry in Calgary.
Value for cash money: Not cheap.
Availability: Not easy to find in Calgary or Edmonton, but UK import shops are the most likely source. Even British Pantry, which, I’d venture, has just about the best selection of any UK import shop in the province, doesn’t consistently carry it. (It’s sometimes in the freezer, in case you can’t find it on the shelf.)
Nutrition?: Per 1/6 of the cake (37 grams): 157 calories, 4.6 grams of fat, 70 mg of sodium, 0.5 grams of fibre, 2.3 grams of protein.
The verdict: If you like almond flavouring, you’re in for a sweeeeet treat. A rare indulgence, to be enjoyed very sparingly.