While friends, family and many fellow bloggers overseas celebrate Thanksgiving, on that date we here at the WarmSnugFat household have a much more important anniversary in mind. For it is the day of The Beloved Husband's birth, and must be suitably celebrated. Normally I'm the sort of person who couldn't care less if there was a cake or not for my own birthday, but I really enjoy inventing cakes for everybody else's birthdays based on their own particular taste. The Husband has quite sophisticated taste in cake, his preference being coffee and walnut cake, usually found at Rua. It's a nice light cake with butter icing and I think a hint of orange in the sponge. I didn't want to bother Aran to ask him for the exact recipe when he was so busy winning a Good Food Ireland award for his most excellent shop and deli (shameless plug for my child's godfather!) so I came up with something else, and he liked it… a lot!
Instead of espresso feel free to use some strong instant coffee - you can split the sponges in two to make a four layer cake, in which case i would up the quantity of the frosting a little, and leave a little extra frosting for piling on top with some extra toasted nuts for your own birthday boy - it is a birthday, after all.
For the sponge
180g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
100g demerara sugar
200g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
2 tbsp espresso
For the meringue
2 egg whites
2oz caster sugar
2oz ground almonds
For the frosting
8oz of cream cheese
4oz butter, softened
4oz caster sugar
150g flaked toasted almonds to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180C Butter and line 2 x 20cm sandwich cake tins.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and add the eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition.
Sieve the flour and baking powder into the egg mixture and fold in with the espresso until everything is just combined.
Divide the batter between the tins and bake for 25 minutes checking for doneness with a skewer after this time. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then onto a wire rack to cool completely
Turn the oven down to 120C
Trace the outline of one of the sandwich pans onto a square of baking parchment
Whisk the egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl until they form stiff peaks, whisk in the sugar a tablespoon at a time then carefully fold in the ground almonds with a metal spoon. Pile the mixture into your circle template and bake for about an hour
Make the frosting by beating the cheese, butter and sugar together until light and creamy, add the coffee and mix well.
Assemble the cake: Slice the sponges in half horizontally to make four circles, sandwich them together with the buttercream frosting, spreading a layer on the top and sides also. Press the toasted almonds around the sides and top with the meringue layer to finish. Serve with cream and a coffee syrup if liked.