For the sponges
- 125g butter, at room temperature, plus a little extra for greasing
- 125g caster sugar
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 50g ground almonds
- 100g self-raising flour
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tsp milk
- 3-4 drops red food colouring
- 100g, apricot jam
- Icing sugar, for dusting
- 400g white or yellow marzipan
- Caster sugar, for sprinkling
- Grease the Tala Battenberg Tin with butter, then line each section with strips of baking parchment, firmly creased so they fit neatly. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4.
- Beat the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl using a handheld electric mixer or wooden spoon, until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well between each addition. Stir in the almond extract and ground almonds. Sift in the flour and salt, folding in gently with a large metal spoon. Stir in the milk.
- Divide the mixture equally into two separate bowls by weighing them accurately. Stir the red food colouring into one portion, mixing thoroughly to give an even pink colour.
- Share the pink mixture equally between two sections of the prepared tin, levelling the surface smoothly and making sure that it goes into the corners. Share the plain mixture between the remaining two sections in the same way.
- Bake for 23-25 minutes, until risen and firm. Cool on a wire rack until barely warm, then carefully remove the sponges by easing out the dividers. Peel away the lining parchment carefully and leave until completely cold.
- Trim the sponges with a sharp serrated knife (a bread knife is ideal) so that they are all the same size. Warm the apricot jam with 1 tbsp water, then pass it through a sieve to make sure that it’s smooth. Assemble the cakes into a chequerboard pattern, brushing the surfaces that meet with apricot jam.
- Sprinkle a spotlessly clean work surface with icing sugar. Knead the marzipan for a few moments until pliable, then roll out into a neat rectangle measuring 20 x 30cm, trimming the edges with a sharp knife to be as accurate as possible.
- Brush the surface of the marzipan with apricot jam (re-warmed if necessary). Set the cake on top, lining up the long side of the cake with one shorter edge of marzipan. Roll the cake and marzipan up carefully, pressing gently as you go, to cover with marzipan, sealing the joins together and leaving the chequerboard ends free.
- Smooth the marzipan with your hands to neaten it up, trim if needed, then pinch the top along each side to crimp it. Sprinkle with a little caster sugar, then serve.