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The perfect Christmas gift for you or a loved one
Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease and line the base of 2 x 18cm round sandwich tins with baking parchment.
Start with the almond sponge: put all the ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk until the mix comes together smoothly. Weigh the mixture and spread exactly half into each tin. Bake for 30 mins – when you poke a skewer into the middle, it should come out clean. Cool in the tins for 15 mins, then carefully turn out onto wire racks to finish cooling while you make the second sponge.
Clean the tins, then grease and line as above. Beat together the butter, sugar, flour, ground almonds, eggs, vanilla, rose water and milk as above. When smooth, beat in a little pink food colouring, bit by bit, until you get a nice colour – it will fade a little during baking, so you can go slightly stronger than you want the finished sponge. Weigh, divide between the tins and bake as above. Cool in the same way.
Once the sponges are cool, cover gently and chill for 30 mins – this will make cutting them easier and neater.
Unwrap the sponges and, if they have domed in the centre, trim to flatten. Cut a 6cm diameter circle out of the centre of each sponge (a 6cm biscuit cutter is ideal, or make yourself a paper template) and set aside. Then cut a 12cm diameter circle from the centre of each sponge by tracing a knife around a plate of the same diameter (or use another paper template). So from each sponge you should end up with a 6cm circle, a 12cm ring and an 18cm ring.
Swap the middle rings of the almond sponges with the middle rings from the rose sponges, and fit the cut pieces back together. Handle the sponges very gently, to avoid cracking or crumbling up the edges too much. You should end up with 4 sponges that look like targets.
Heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve and stir in the rose water. Brush some over the top of one of the sponges and top with an alternating sponge. Repeat to stack up all the layers. Sit the cake on a serving plate or cake stand.
Dust your work surface with a little icing sugar and roll out your marzipan until big enough to cover the cake (use a piece of string to measure the cake; see tip below). Brush some more jam all over the top and sides of the cake. Use your rolling pin to lift up the marzipan onto the cake, then ease it down the sides, pressing to stick. Trim the marzipan from the base, then decorate the cake as you like. Cut into wedges and serve with tea. Will keep for three days in an airtight container.