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The perfect Christmas gift for you or a loved one
Butter two 20cm loose-bottomed round sandwich tins and line with baking parchment. Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 4. Tip the butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 10 mins, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt and the milk. Spoon the batter into the prepared tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 22-25 mins, or until risen and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Put the cherries, vanilla, sugar, lemon juice and kirsch or liqueur (if using) in a pan and bring to a simmer over a low heat. Cook for 5 mins, turn up the heat to medium and cook for 5-7 mins more until the liquid becomes syrupy. If the cherries are softened but the liquid isn’t yet syrupy, strain the liquid into a separate pan and simmer until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Beat the cream and icing sugar together using an electric whisk until the cream has thickened, then fold in the custard and chill for 1 hr.
Put one of the sponges on a cake plate or stand and spread over the custard cream. Spoon over the cherries, then top with the second sponge. Dust with more icing sugar and serve immediately. Leftovers will keep chilled for two days and are best served at room temperature.