Harlequin Battenberg Muffins

harlequincakesthumbs.JPGThese Battenberg-inspired cupcakes are deliciously moist and tasty, with a colourful surprise inside. Some of the ingredients might raise an eyebrow too.

The Recipe

For The Cakes


  • 175g Self raising flour
  • 100g Rice flour
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 200g Soft butter or vegetable baking fat
  • 100g Cooked Beetroot, pureed
  • 100g Raw carrot, grated
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 Heaped tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Half a teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 Teaspoon almond (or if you prefer, vanilla) extract
  • To Decorate
  • 200g Marzipan (or if you prefer, fondant cake icing)
  • Strawberry jam


harlequincakes2.JPGPut the flour, rice flour, fat, sugar, eggs and almond or vanilla flavouring in a large bowl.

Mix together with an electric whisk for a few moments - work thoroughly enough to get all the wet and dry ingredients to mix, but don't worry if there are a few small lumps of fat visible at this stage.

harlequincakes3.JPGDivide the mixture in half, into another bowl.

This division doesn't have to be terribly precise - just judge it by eye.

harlequincakes4.JPGAdd the carrot and turmeric to one bowl, Add the beetroot and chocolate to the other.

Mix each bowl again with the electric whisk until fully combined. Rinse the blades between mixes to avoid contaminating the colours.

Preheat the oven to 180C

harlequincakes5.JPGSpoon each of the mixes into its own polythene bag, tie off the top loosely, then cut a small piece off one of the bottom corners - to make it into a piping bag.

harlequincakes6.JPGBe careful not to let the little pieces of plastic you cut off the bags find their way into the cakes.

Set 12 paper cases in a muffin tray.

Carefully squeeze a blob of one mix into the middle of each case, then squeeze a ring of the other colour around it.

harlequincakes7.JPGRepeat the process, but reversing the colours for a second layer

Each layer is about 1cm thick (so that's about 2cm of unbaked cake batter in each case) - that should just about use up all of the mix.

Place in the oven and set a timer for 12 minutes

harlequincakes8.JPGIf the cakes are done, a toothpick pushed into the middle of the cake should come out clean. If it's sticky with uncooked mix, return the cakes to the oven for another couple of minutes, then test again.

Leave the cakes to cool for half an hour before decorating them.

harlequincakes9.JPGRoll out the marzipan to about 3 or 4mm thick. Use icing (powdered) sugar to prevent it sticking to the work surface or rolling pin.

Using a fluted cutter, or the rim of a suitably-sized glass, cut circles about the same size as the tops of the cakes.

harlequincakes10.JPGSpread a little jam on the top of each of the cakes (if there are cracks in the top surface, you can use the jam to fill them).

Apply the marzipan circles on top of the jam, pressing them down to conform to the curved top of the cake.

I quite like the plain, smooth appearance of the marzipan, but if you prefer, you could decorate it by imprinting with a pattern, or drizzling thin threads of melted chocolate across it.


Choice Of Ingredients

Why beetroot? Why Turmeric?

The affinity between chocolate and beetroot is well established - there's something about the sweet earthiness of beets that perfectly balances the bitter complexity of cocoa. The dark maroon colour changes during cooking to a deep, rich chocolate brown, which also helps to cement the relationship.

The turmeric is mostly here for appearance. I really dislike using artificial colourings, but I wanted to emphasise the orange of the grated carrot. You're unlikely to taste the turmeric, but it does lend a beautiful golden glow to the cake.


The almond flavouring in the cake and the marzipan maintain the connection between this recipe and the square-section Battenberg cake with which we're all very familiar. But not everyone likes almond flavour - so vanilla can be used instead, and ready-made fondant icing used in place of the marzipan.

The other thing that makes this recipe special is the rice flour - it gives the cake a slightly denser, but still fluffy and moist texture.