Slices into 12 - 16 tall slim slices. Freezes well - freeze the whole cake once iced but before decorating.
A pretty winter cake, using ground nuts as well as flour and a cream cheese frosting to make it lighter and easier on the icing than traditional cakes.
250g butter, softened
250g soft brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
350g self-raising flour (use wholemeal self-raising if you prefer)
200g ground almonds
60ml brandy or rum plus some extra for brushing the cakes between layers
1 tsp ground cinnamon
500g cream cheese, softened
100g butter, softened
Decoration - sprigs of rosemary, shortbread or gingerbread reindeer or snowmen
325g icing sugar
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 x 20cm cake tins (2” deep), greased and lined
Preheat the oven to 170C or use the AGA Baking oven, placing the tins on the grid shelf on the floor. Make the cakes by beating together 250g soft butter and 250g soft brown sugar until pale and creamy.
Add the eggs one at a time then fold in the self-raising flour and ground almonds. Add the milk, brandy (or rum), vanilla extract and ground cinnamon and mix together gently until just combined then divide between the tins. Bake for 30 - 40 mins until the cakes spring back when pressed gently in the centre or until a skewer comes out clean.
Cool in the tins for 10 mins then turn out on to a wire cooling rack. Remove the baking paper and leave to cool completely. Meanwhile make the icing and chill while the cakes are cooling.
Beat together 500g cream cheese, 325g sifted icing sugar and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Beat for 5 mins then chill for 15 mins minimum, this makes it easier to fill the cakes.
Trim the tops of the cakes if they have risen more in the middle while cooking, and slice in half horizontally to give 4 layers in total.
Place the first layer on a cake stand or plate, brush with a little brandy or rum to keep the sponge moist, then add about 1/5th of the icing. Spread evenly over the layer then repeat with the remaining 3 layers then finally spread the icing thinly over the sides and use the rest for the top.
Decorate with rosemary ‘trees’ and shortbread reindeer. Dust with icing sugar for ‘snow’.