Celebrate the Queen’s birthday with this very British cake. It bears the original German name of the family now known in Britain as Mountbatten. The batter is divided in half and cocoa is added to one portion of it. After baking, the two cakes are cut into even bars and stacked up checkerboard-style. Thanks to Kyra Effren for sharing her expert knowledge of British baking.
One 8 x 5 x 5-inch loaf cake
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa, sifted after measuring
3 tablespoons milk
8 ounces almond paste
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
Two 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans, buttered and the bottoms lined with rectangles of parchment paper
- Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
- Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle on medium speed until very light and smooth, about 5 minutes.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla.
- Sift the cake flour into a bowl and stir in the baking powder.
- Stop the mixer and add a third of the flour mixture to the batter. Mix on lowest speed until the flour is absorbed. Repeat with the remaining second and last third of the batter. After all the flour has been added, let the batter beat on lowest speed for 2 additional minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and put half the batter into another bowl.
- Mix the cocoa and milk together and stir the cocoa mixture into one of the batters. Scrape each batter into a separate pan and bake until well risen and a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake emerges clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Unmold the cakes to racks to cool completely.
- To make the marzipan, cut the almond paste into 1/2-inch pieces and combine in the bowl of an electric mixer with about half the confectioners’ sugar. Place on mixer with paddle attachment and beat on lowest speed until the almond paste absorbs the sugar, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining sugar in a stream and continue mixing until the marzipan looks like very fine crumbs. Add the corn syrup to the bowl and continue mixing until the marzipan begins to form larger crumbs. Remove the bowl from the mixer and pour the marzipan out onto a work surface. Knead the crumbs together until they form a firm dough, adding a drop or two of water if the mixture seems too dry. Wrap the marzipan in plastic wrap.
- After the cakes have cooled, trim the sides straight and cut each cake into a 9 x 5 x 2 1/2-inch slab. Cut one cake down the middle to make two 9 x 2 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch bars. Repeat with the other cake.
- To make the glaze, place the jam in a medium saucepan and heat it over medium heat until it is slightly reduced and no longer sticky, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Assemble the cake on a piece of parchment paper. First brush some of the glaze on the side of one of the plain cake bars and press a bar of the chocolate cake against it so that you have one white bar and one chocolate bar, side by side.
- Paint the top of the white bar with the glaze and place the second bar of chocolate cake on top of it. Paint the side of that second bar of chocolate cake and the top of the bar of chocolate cake on the bottom layer with the glaze and place the last bar of white cake in place. Now you should have two layers of alternating colors, like a checkerboard.
- Roll out the marzipan to a 10 x 22-inch rectangle, dusting the marzipan and the work surface with a little cornstarch to keep it from sticking. Brush the glaze on one side of the cake and invert the cake so that the glaze is on the bottom. Position the cake so that it is 1 inch from one of the 10-inch sides of the marzipan. Paint the remainder of the outside of the cake with the glaze and wrap the marzipan around to cover the whole cake, trimming it evenly where it meets the other end of the marzipan.
- Trim the ends of the cake flat.