Coffee Walnut Battenberg Cake

This Battenberg cake pairs a moist vanilla sponge with a rich coffee and walnut sponge, arranges them in a checkerboard with buttercream, then surrounds the whole thing in smooth, sweet marzipan.

I made it with a chocolate buttercream to stick the layers together instead of a coffee buttercream, because I had some chocolate buttercream around.

The construction part was nerve-wracking, but it turned out pretty visually impressive and delicately delicious.

This is the technical challenge for the second season of the Great British Bakeoff Cake Week.

The assignment was to bake Mary Berry’s coffee and walnut battenberg cake with “perfect sponge symmetry, distinguished flavors, and a smooth exterior.”

No pressure.

I hope you enjoy it!

Great British Bakeoff Vegan: Season 2, Episode 1, Technical Challenge



  • 100 g vegan butter or margarine
  • 100 g sugar or monkfruit sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut yogurt
  • 100 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 50 g ground almonds
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ tsp strong decaf espresso
  • 25 g walnuts, chopped
  • ½ tsp molasses
  • 1 ½ tsp soy milk

Chocolate buttercream

  • 1 ½ cups vegan butter or margarine
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 5 cups icing sugar
  • ½ cup soy milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla


  • 200 g marzipan
  • 10 g small walnut pieces


Make the cakes. In a large bowl, beat the margarine, sugar, yogurt, flour, baking powder and ground almonds for 2-3 minutes until it is smooth and glossy. Split the batter equally into two bowls.

Add the espresso, chopped walnuts and molasses into half of the batter, and add the 1 ½ tsp soy milk into the other half of the batter. Mix just to combine, then pour into 2 greased 8×4″ cake pans.

Bake at 325F for 30-35 mins until cooked, cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn the cakes out and cool completely before assembling.

Make the buttercream. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high, whip the vegan butter and cocoa. Add in half of the icing sugar, followed by half the soy milk, and mix again. Add the remaining icing sugar and soy milk, plus the vanilla, and mix again. If it seems too dry, add 1 tsp more soy milk at a time until it’s creamy and thick enouch for piping. You don’t want it to be too runny or dripping off a spoon.

Assemble. Trim the edges off the cooled cakes, then cut into 4 equal strips. Lay one vanilla and one coffee-walnut strip next to each other, using some buttercream to stick them together. Spread a bit more buttercream on the top. Stick the remaining two strips together with buttercream and place them on top to create a checkerboard. Spread a bit more buttercream over the top of the cake.

Decorate. Roll the marzipan out on a work surface dusted with icing sugar. Make it into a rectangle as long as the cake and wide enough to wrap around the cake. Lay the buttercream side of the cake down on the marzipan and spread buttercream over the remaining three sides of the cake (not the ends). Roll the cake in the marzipan, pressing it tight, and brush the join with water, pressing to seal. Turn the cake over so that the join is underneath. Trim the ends of the cake to show the checkerboard. Smooth the marzipan with your hands and pinch the edges if you like. Stick the walnut pieces decoratively on top of the cake with little dots of buttercream to secure it. Slice and enjoy!

Chef Maitri Carmichael brings a creative and peaceful energy to every plate. She grew up in Toronto with a British Grandma and an Italian Nonna who showed their love through food, then she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years, spending her free time at community farms and zen kitchens. Originally a scientist and biotech entrepreneur, she graduated from the Vegan Chef School in London (2021) and the Raw Food Culinary Academy in Vancouver (2023), and is now settled in Hawaii.

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