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Make the batter for the French crêpes and continue with step 2 while it rests.
For the crème diplomate, pour the milk into a medium saucepan and set over a medium heat for 2-3 mins until it begins to steam. Turn off the heat.
Put the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and almond extract in a medium heatproof bowl and mix to a paste. Gradually pour in the steaming milk, whisking constantly, then return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over a low-medium heat, still whisking, until it becomes lumpy. Continue whisking to beat out the lumps and create a thick, smooth mixture. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover to prevent a skin forming, then set aside to cool. Will keep chilled for up to two days.
Lightly beat the crème diplomate to loosen, then pass through a sieve to remove any lumps. Whip the double cream in a separate bowl until it just holds its shape, then fold into the mixture to combine. Will keep chilled for up to two days.
Put the frozen cherries, sugar and cherry brandy liqueur, if using, in a medium pan and cook over a medium heat for 5 mins. Carefully spoon out a few of the whole cherries and set aside to use for decorating later. Cook for 5 mins more until thickened, then remove 2 tbsp of the cherry cooking liquid and mix with the cornflour to make a paste. Stir this back into the pan and continue to cook for about 10 mins, until you can draw a clear line through the middle of the pan with a spoon. Blitz with a hand blender until
smooth, then leave to cool completely. Keep chilled until needed. Will keep chilled for up to two days.
While chilling the cherry compote, cook the pancakes and allow to cool before continuing with step 7.
To assemble the cake, reserve 1 tbsp of the cherry compote. Spread another 1 tbsp over a serving plate and smooth it out. Put one crêpe on top. Spread over 1 heaped tbsp of the crème diplomat, then place another crêpe on top. Spread over ½ tbsp of the cherry compote and place a crêpe on top. Repeat this pattern, alternating the layers with the two fillings, until it’s all used up, reserving the remaining crème diplomat for decorating. Chill the cake for 1 hr to firm up.
Remove the cake from the fridge, then use a palette knife to smooth the crème diplomate over the top and sides, or leave uncovered if you prefer. Swirl the remaining cherry compote into the top layer of crème diplomat, then scatter over the reserved cherries and toasted flaked almonds.