Battenbuns with Homemade Marzipan

What is the result when you cross the flavour, colour and checkerboard of a Battenberg with a Hot Cross Bun? A Battenbun, of course!

  • Preparation Time60 mins
  • Cooking Time35 mins
  • Serves12
  • DifficultyHard

For the dough:

550g plain flour
90g ground almonds
70g caster sugar
1 tsp finely-grated lemon zest
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
180ml 2% milk, heated to just above body temperature (43°C)
16g instant dry yeast
3 large eggs, at room temperature
125ml vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
75g chopped dried apricots
45g dried currants
Pink and yellow food colouring paste

For the hot glaze:

100g granulated sugar
45ml water
1 teaspoon almond extract

For the decoration:

250g Homemade Marzipan (recipe follows) pink & yellow food colouring paste

For the marzipan (makes 450g):

200g ground almonds
200g granulated sugar
60ml honey
30ml water
1 teaspoon pure almond extract

1. For the dough, measure all of the ingredients except the currants and dried apricots into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the hook attachment or in a large bowl. Mix the dough on low speed until it comes together, then increase the speed by one and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes (the dough is soft and should stick to the bottom of the bowl). If mixing by hand, stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together, then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth. Towards the end of kneading, add the currants and dried apricots and knead in.

2. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Use a toothpick to add pink colouring (as desired) to one piece of dough and work in by kneading and repeat with the yellow colouring to the second piece of dough, leaving the third piece natural. Place each piece of dough into a separate bowl and cover the bowls with plastic wrap and let rise for 75 to 90 minutes, until almost doubled in size.

3. Turn the dough pieces out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll out each into a long rope about 45 cm long. Twist the three colours together and then cut this long rope into 12 equal pieces (or weigh and cut into twelve 100 g pieces). Shape each piece into a ball by rolling between your hands while it remains on the work surface – the colours will not blend together. Place the rolled buns in a greased 9-x-13-inch/23-x-33-cm pan, leaving space between them. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the buns rise for 45 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Uncover the buns and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a rich brown on top. While still hot from the oven, prepare the glaze.

5. For the glaze, bring the sugar, water and almond extract up to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved. Brush this syrup over the still-hot buns, until it has all been used. Let the buns cool completely in the tin.

6. For the décor, divide the marzipan into two pieces and tint one pink and the other yellow, of the desired tone (it can be subtle or bright, as you wish). Roll both of the marzipan pieces out to 4mm thick (using icing sugar for rolling, to prevent sticking). Cut strips to lay on top of each bun as crosses (one pink and one yellow) – the marzipan will stick because of the glaze. Cut squares about 1.5 cm across and arrange four (2 pink, 2 yellow) over the centre of the cross, in a Batternberg pattern.

Ideally the buns are best the day they are baked, but they will keep, well wrapped, for a full day.

To make the homemade marzipan:

1. Place the ground almonds into a food processor. Stir the sugar, honey and water in a small saucepot over high heat until it reaches a full boil and the sugar has completely dissolved. Pour this into the food processor while it’s running. Add the almond extract and blend until the marzipan comes together. While it’s still warm, shape this into a log and wrap in plastic wrap well. Leave at room temperature to cool and store well-wrapped until you are ready to use it.

Note: Marzipan will keep, well-wrapped, for up to a month, or can be frozen up to 3 months.

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