1/2 cup (4 ounces, 1 stick) butter
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks (save the whites for the topping)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 large egg whites
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) Baker's Special sugar or granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sliced, blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
1 tablespoon sugar
your favorite pastry cream OR our favorite pastry cream (below)
fresh raspberries, sliced strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8" round or 9" round cake pans. Or lightly grease the pans, line with parchment rounds, and lightly grease the parchment as well.
To make the cake: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, and egg yolks. Beat in the vanilla, sweet dough flavor, milk, baking powder, and flour. Spread the mixture in the prepared pans (the batter will barely cover the bottom of the pans; that's OK).
Beat the egg whites till light; gradually add the 3/4 cup sugar and continue to beat till the meringue is smooth, glossy and somewhat stiff (but not stiff enough to form stand-up points). Spread the meringue on the cake batter, and sprinkle with the almonds, cinnamon, and sugar. Note: If you're using Fiori di Sicilia, omit the cinnamon.
Bake the cakes for 30 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove them from the oven, allow them to cool for 15 minutes, then loosen the edges and gently turn them out onto a rack to cool completely. If some of the almonds fall off during this process, just sprinkle them back on top.
Here's our pastry cream secret: mix 1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix with 2 teaspoons vanilla extract OR 1/8 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia and 1 3/4 cups light cream (rich) or heavy cream (ultra-rich) till thick.
Assembly: Place one of the cake layers, meringue side up, on a serving plate. Spread with the pastry cream/pudding. Add a layer of fresh berries. Top with the second cake layer, meringue-side up. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving time. Yield: 8 to 10 servings
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