This is an epic centrepiece cake that easily serves 12-14. You will need to make four cakes, which can be baked two at a time.
2½ cups caster sugar
400 grams butter, softened
2 vanilla beans, split lengthways and seeds scraped out
6 large eggs, size 7
1½ cups buttermilk
3 cups plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup almond meal
900 grams cherries in syrup, drained, reserve cherries and syrup
Amaretto cherry syrup
1¼ cups reserved cherry syrup
⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup Amaretto
1 vanilla pod, split
250 grams butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar
250 grams sour cream
½ teaspoon almond extract, optional
2 tablespoons freeze-dried cherries, crumbled
½ cup edible flowers
Preheat the oven to 160˚C.
Grease 4 x 22cm cake tins and line the base and sides with baking paper. (I prepared half of the cake batter and cooked two cakes at a time.)
Cake: Put the sugar, butter and vanilla in a mixer and beat for 8 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. Add half of the buttermilk and sift in the flour and baking powder, then beat briefly to combine.
Add the remaining buttermilk and the almond meal and beat again to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 40 minutes or until gently risen and cooked through. Cool and remove from the tins.
Amaretto cherry syrup: Put the cherry syrup, sugar, Amaretto and vanilla pod in a pot. Bring to a boil then simmer together for 8 minutes. Cool and set aside.
Icing: Put the butter in a mixer and beat for five minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the icing sugar, 1 cup at a time, with the sour cream and almond extract, if using, and beat all together until smooth.
Place one cake on a serving plate and brush with syrup. Top with ¼ of the icing and ⅓ of the reserved cherries. Repeat twice, finishing with the final cake.
Brush with syrup and use the remaining icing to ice the top of the cake and decorate with fresh or dried cherries and flowers. Leave to sit for at least one hour before serving. Any remaining syrup can be used to drizzle over cake once served.