I grant you this recipe is a little bit involved. It’s not the sort of thing you want to make at the last minute. It’s more along the lines of something you make to impress your mother-in-law. It’s also very pretty and spring-like. Great for Easter, although that has now passed, but Mother’s Day is coming up.
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For the sponge cake:
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup milk
¼ teaspoon almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Beat the eggs, adding the sugar gradually. Keep beating until the mixture is light and lemon-colored. Beat in the oil. Sift the dry ingredients together; add the vanilla and almond extracts to the milk. Stir in dry ingredients, alternating with milk mixture. Pour into pans and bake 20-25 minutes. Cool a few minutes in pans and unmold onto a wire rack. Cool completely.
¾ cup apricot preserves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 kiwi fruit, halved and sliced (to form crescents)
½ pint strawberries, sliced (reserve one whole berry for garnish)
Heat apricot preserves and lemon juice to boiling, stirring occasionally. Strain enough of the preserve mixture to measure 2 tablespoons syrup for glaze. Cool the remaining preserve mixture.
Whipped Cream Cheese Topping:
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup powdered sugar
¾ cup chilled whipping cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
In a chilled bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Place bottom cake layer on a serving plate. Spread with half of the preserve mixture. Spread ¾ cup of the whipped cream cheese topping over this. Top with second layer. Spread with remaining preserve mixture. Arrange fruit on top: the kiwi scallops go around the edge; place the whole strawberry in the center and arrange the remaining slices about the center in a star pattern. (This is just the base recipe. You can add whatever fruit you like to it and get creative with how you arrange it.) Brush top with reserved apricot syrup. You can also arrange any leftover strawberries around the base. Frost sides of cake with remaining cream cheese topping. Serve immediately or refrigerate no longer than 8 hours.
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After watching her beloved sister Sophia pine over the ton’s Golden Boy for years, Miss Julia St. Claire has foresworn love and put herself firmly on the shelf. Unfortunately, her social-climbing mother and debt-ridden father have other ideas, and jump at the chance to marry Julia off to the newly-named Earl of Clivesden…the man of Sophia’s dreams.
Since resigning his Cavalry commission, Benedict Revelstoke has spent his time in London avoiding the marriage mart. But when he discovers that the Earl of Clivesden has set Julia in his sights, Benedict tries to protect his childhood best friend from the man’s advances—only to discover more than friendship driving his desire to defend her. He surprises them both with the force of his feelings, but when she refuses him and her father announces her betrothal, he fears he’s lost her forever—until Julia approaches him with a shocking scheme that will ruin her for all respectable society…
…and lead them into an exquisite world of forbidden pleasures.
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