While strawberries and other berries are available year-round, summer is their true season. This cake is the ultimate summer dessert — layers of crumbly almond cake, filled with a mascarpone-based cream, and topped with fresh berries.
Preparation time 2 hours Bake time 20-25 minutes Makes one 23cm (9in) log cake
For the cake
200 grams (2 cups) finely ground almond flour
½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1-2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling and decoration
250 grams (8.8 ounces) mascarpone
120 grams (4.2 ounces or ½ cup) crème fraîche or sour cream
240 milliliters (1 cup) cold heavy cream
60 grams (½ cup) confectioners' sugar, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 tablespoon rum or amaretto (optional)
450 grams (1 pound) strawberries or mixed berries - washed, dried and cut into smaller pieces as needed
Preheat the oven to 175C (350F).
Measure all the ingredients.
To make the cake, first butter and line with parchment a quarter sheet pan (size: 33x23cm or 13×9in). Brush the parchment with butter.
Combine the almond flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
Fill a pot with enough water so that a large mixing bowl can fit in it and not touch the water. Bring the water to a simmer over low heat.
Place the eggs, egg whites and sugar in the large and clean bowl and gently whisk to incorporate.
Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes. Do not stop whisking of the eggs will congeal.
Remove the bowl from the pot and beat on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 7 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the almond mixture, zest, and vanilla into the egg mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared quarter sheet pan and smooth out the top. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. The cake will rise and fall during baking – don’t be alarmed. Let the cake cool completely before assembling.
To make the cream filling, combine the mascarpone, crème fraiche, heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon (if using) and liquor (if using). Mix until combined and then whip until the cream holds its shape. Add more confectioners’ sugar to your taste preferences. If not using the cream filling immediately, store in the refrigerator.
To assemble, invert the cake onto a cutting board and peel off the parchment. Using a long, serrated bread knife, cut the cake into three segments. Trim the sides of the cake segments as needed so that you have three even layers. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread ¼ of the mascarpone filling on the layer. Repeat with the remaining 2 layers and cover the sides with cream. Arrange the berries on top.
If not serving immediately, chill until ready to serve.