Autumn is starting to be one of my favourites seasons. The changes in colours, weather and even our moods are very generous in their spectrum. A little bit of everything. Unpredictable both ways, good or bad can surprise us at any time. It’s the weather – many would say. I would add – it’s Autumn! I see everything in layers and colours. A bit of green, a little bit of glorious gold and reddish lines and spots everywhere and brown of course – the inevitable colour of soil. If I was born on this side of planet, I would be an Autumn person with all the layers in between.
Just like this gorgeous cake! Two different colours, and in my opinion they are Autumn colours, a bit of jam in between and there are the layers of different tastes. I’ve chosen just a plain icing for this one but have to add that the original version is covered with marzipan and it tastes wonderful… but, just recently I was introduced to Alchermes, and I was instantly intrigued by the name, look and the complete appearance of this scarlet liquid. I had to include it into my baking and to start I made this nourishing one, to celebrate the Autumn season. I’ve added a few drops of Alchermes into the icing as well as to the cake itself. What a wonderful and intriguing aroma but no one would expect less from a liquid with a Hermes the son of Zeus as a part of its name.
I thought the cake will be quite buttery for my taste but it is just as it should be. Moist and rich! Just a few almonds make all the difference and shouldn’t be avoided. And Alchermes, oh what an indulgence! Just wait until the smell from the oven conquers the whole house.
350 gr butter
350 gr sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
280 gr plain flour
100 gr ground almonds
2 teaspoon aluminium free baking powder
2 tablespoons of Alchermes
100 gr jam (I used this plum jam)
250 gr powdered sugar
a few drops of Alchermes
1 teaspoon of water
Heat oven to 180C.
Mix the butter with the sugar until pale, in a large size bowl. Add the eggs and whisk for another 4-5 minutes. Add the vanilla paste and mix slowly one more time. In a different bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and almonds. Add to the butter mixture and combine all using spatula or hand mixer on a very slow speed. Once all combined, divide butter in two (ideally using scales to be precise) and in one of them add Alchermes. Mix until all ingredients well combined and pour into a lined baking tin.
In case you don’t have two 10x20cm baking tins you can use one 20×20 cm baking tin, which is more common in many kitchens. Divide the baking tin in two by putting a thick piece (a few times folded) of aluminium foil lengthways, imitating the wall of a baking dish – which is what I do and it works perfectly. Bake for 45 minutes or until baked.
Once baked, leave on a cooling rack to cool before transferring to the refrigerator to cool completely. This way it’ll be much easier to cut the cake, which is our next step. Use a ruler if you have to and try to make a straight cut so you get 4 ( 2 each colour cake) nice pieces.
Assembling the cake : place all four pieces, making sure you have one plain and one pink cake next to each other. Spread all tops with jam, turn the jam sides facing each other and glue the cakes. Repeat with the other two cakes.
One more time, spread the jam, this time on the top of two already “glued” cakes and place the other two on the top. Make sure you follow the pattern, one plain and one pink, when finishing assembling the cake.
Mix the powdered sugar with the water and Alchermes and spread over the cake. The cake is not so “firm” because it’s not wrapped in marzipan as the original recipe says but we love the rustic look of the cake and the fact that you can choose and divide the piece you want to eat first – or at least that was the way one of our friends saw it when she tasted the cake for the first time.