From my mother, Magdelene Hafner. This beautifully delicate and light cake takes its name from the German word for heaven, himmel.
125g unsalted butter at room temperature
125g caster sugar
2 eggs, separated, plus 1 egg white
125g self-raising flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
3-4 tbsp flaked almonds
2 tbsp caster sugar, extra
300mL thickened cream
1 tbsp vanilla sugar*
2 punnets strawberries
* Vanilla sugar is available at good delicatessens. Make your own by placing a split vanilla bean in a jar with 500g of caster sugar and leaving it at least two weeks. The perfume will increase with time. The bases can be kept in an airtight container for a day or two or frozen for up to a week.
Preheat oven to 180C.
Grease very liberally two 23cm round springform cake tin bases. Beat the butter with the sugar for about 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Slowly add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until well incorporated.
Gently fold in the flour. You will have a dry, thick cake batter. In a separate clean bowl, beat the 3 egg whites with the pinch of salt until very stiff.
Divide the cake mixture between the cake bases. Using a palette knife or spatula, spread the cake mixture evenly - and very thinly - over the trays. Gently spread the beaten egg whites over the cake mixture. Wipe your thumb around the edges of the cake base and attach the side rings. Sprinkle with the almond flakes (saving some to sprinkle on later) and extra caster sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. While still a little warm, remove the rings and very carefully run a palette or butter knife under the cakes to prise them from the bases. Slip cakes onto racks.
Whip the cream and vanilla sugar until just firm. Put the first layer of cake on a serving plate and cover with almost all the cream. Halve or quarter the strawberries and arrange over the cream. Top with the remaining cream, cover with the second piece of cake and sprinkle on reserved almond flakes.
This cake also works very well with fresh raspberries.
This recipe is featured in the book, Spring which is available now in all good bookstores RRP $34.95. To order direct call 1300 656 059 or visit www.smh.com.au/store