Here the sharp flavour of raspberries and cream is sandwiched between layers of almond sponge, doused with either black raspberry Chambord liqueur or good brandy. Dredged with icing sugar just before serving, it gives a festive appearance while suiting our warmer December weather. It can be made a few days ahead and is a cinch to serve: just remove from the tin, dust with sugar and it's ready to go. The cake is similar to the French jaconde, a sponge cake rich with almonds. Grinding flaked almonds gives a coarser and arguably more interesting texture and better flavour than shop-bought ground almonds.
1 teaspoon honey
3 eggs, 60g each
60g castor sugar
60g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
60g coarsely ground almonds
a handful of flaked almonds
200g raspberries, fresh or frozen
100g castor sugar
2 small sheets of gelatine
1 egg white
75g real double cream, not thickened
10g castor sugar
seeds from a vanilla pod
20g Chambord liqueur or brandy, extra to finish
about 20 fresh or frozen raspberries to finish, more to decorate if needed
icing sugar to serve
1. To make the cake, line the base of a 23-centimetre (or similar size) round springform cake tin with a disk of non-stick paper, and heat the oven to 160C conventional or 140C fan-forced. Melt the butter and honey and keep this warm. Separate the eggs, keeping the whites in a mixing bowl and the yolks in a cup to one side.
2. Whisk the whites with an electric mixer until they start to fluff then gradually beat in the sugar, a little at a time, to a thick meringue. Then add the yolks and beat a minute longer. In a small bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and almonds. Fold this ever-so gently through the egg mixture with the honey and melted butter then spoon this into the tin, smooth the top, sprinkle with a handful of flaked almonds and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until risen, golden and slightly firm.
3. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. When cool, remove the cake from the tin, slice it in half to form two layers, peel the paper off the base and return the paper to the tin. Line the sides of the tin with a band of non-stick paper.
4. For the mousse, heat the raspberries and half the sugar in a saucepan or bowl in the microwave until hot, then puree in a blender until smooth. Press this through a sieve to remove the pips, then discard. Soak the gelatine in cold water for a few minutes, until soft. Reheat the raspberry puree and stir the gelatine through, until melted.
4. Put the egg white and remaining half of sugar in a clean bowl or saucepan and heat until piping hot (but not cooked). Beat with an electric whisk until cold, thick and meringue-like, then beat this in with the cooled raspberry puree.
5. For the vanilla cream, beat the cream with the sugar, vanilla pod seeds and liqueur until almost thick. Fold this in with the raspberry mixture.
6. Place the base of the cake back in the tin and sprinkle the sponge with some liqueur. Spoon over the raspberry mousse and press about 20 raspberries randomly into it. Add the top of the cake to the mousse and gently press down. Cover and chill until needed (up to two days ahead).
7. To serve, un-mould, dust with icing sugar and decorate with extra raspberries, if using.