I don’t bake a lot of cakes, and I don’t use a ton of fresh fruit (because, meh). But every once in a while I like to go full out and really make something fancy and nice, and this is both.
It’s also delicious, so there’s that, too.
- Blanched almonds are raw almonds that have had the brown skin removed, which removes some of the bitterness that can come from almond skin. You can either buy blanched almonds or make them yourself using regular almonds. To do that, fill a small saucepan ¾ full with water, bring the water to boil, turn off the heat and put the almonds into the water. Let them sit there for about a minute, then place them in a colander and run some cold water over them. Squeeze each one out of their skin and let them dry before putting them in the food processor. NOTE: when you squeeze them, these things go FLYING. Aim them down, back into the colander!
· ¾ cup butter, softened to room temperature
· 2 cups sugar, divided
· 3 eggs, brought to room temperature
· 2 t almond liqueur (like Amaretto di Saronno)
· 1 t vanilla, divided
· ½ cup ground, blanched almonds*
· 1 ½ cups flour
· 2 t baking powder
· ½ t salt
· ½ cup milk
· 1 pound fresh strawberries
· 8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
· ½ t vanilla
· 2 cups heavy whipping cream
DirectionsFor this recipe you’ll need a springform pan. Take that out, and butter and flour it, then set it aside.
Place the butter and 1 ½ cups of the sugar into a large bowl and beat with your hand mixer until fluffy, maybe 3 minutes. Next, add in the eggs, almond liqueur and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and beat again until everything is very well combined. Set this aside.
Next, take your blanched almonds and put them in a food processor to grind them up until you have a full half cup.
In a separate bowl, put in your dry ingredients – the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together until well combined.
Pour half of the dry ingredients into the bowl with the butter mixture and beat until combined. Follow that with half the milk and once again beat until combined. Then the remaining flour mixture, beat, and finally the remaining milk, and beat. Don’t go too crazy with the mixer – just get everything combined.
Pour the batter into your prepared springform pan, and smooth it out so it’s level. Bake at 325 for a half hour. Then, cover the cake with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack (leaving it in the springform pan).
While your cake is cooling, you can prepare the strawberries and make the whipped cream.
For the strawberries, wash them and then cut the bottoms off each one, so that they can stand on their ends. Cut half of them in half lengthwise and leave the remaining strawberries whole.
Now we’re gonna get all creative-like.
Take your cake and carefully remove the outsides of the springform, but don’t throw it in the sink – you’ll need it shortly.
Take parchment paper and wrap it completely around the edges of the cake, with the paper high enough that it reaches a couple inches above the cake, like this:
Next, put the springform collar back onto the cake.
Take your half-strawberries and line them up, with the cut side out, along the edge of the cake.
Next, stand the remaining whole strawberries inside the cake, about a half inch or so apart from one another. If you have any leftover full or half strawberries, put them in an airtight bag and refrigerate them – we’ll use them in a bit. Or, you know, just eat them.
On to the whipped cream. Place the cream cheese, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar into a bowl and whip until well combined. Gradually add in the heavy cream while you continue to whip. Keep whipping until stiff peaks form.
Pour the whipped cream over the top of the cake and strawberries, covering the strawberries completely. Smooth the top with a spatula, lightly cover the whole thing with tinfoil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
When you’re ready to serve, take the cake out of the fridge and remove the springform sides and the parchment paper. You may have to do a little tidying up if some of the side strawberries fall off, but it shouldn’t be too bad. Take any leftover strawberries you might have, cut them into quarters, eighths or tiny squares and use to decorate the top. Slice and serve!