Annie Bell's Layered Easter Gateau

Method

You will need two 20cm x 5cm deep loose-bottom cake tins or sandwich tins. For the filling, break up the chocolate and gently melt it in a bowl set over a pan containing a little simmering water.

Beat this into the sour cream in a medium-size bowl, cover and chill for 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/ 400F/gas 6. Butter the cake tins. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff using an electric hand whisk.
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in another large bowl, without letting the mixture become too pale and thick. Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk and sugar mixture in two goes, then fold in the baking powder and the almond essence, if including.

Transfer a third of the mixture to another bowl (you may want to weigh the mixtures) and fold the pistachios into this. Fold the ground almonds into the remaining two thirds of the mixture.

Pour the mixtures into separate tins and bake the smaller cake for 20 minutes and the larger one for 25 minutes or until the top feels springy, the sides are shrinking away from the tin and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the tins and leave to cool on a rack.

Using a bread knife, slit the larger cake in half horizontally, and slice the brown surface off the pistachio cake. Spread half the chocolate filling over the bottom almond layer, sit the pistachio layer on top, then spread the remaining filling over it and top with the final almond cake.

For the icing, break up the chocolate and gently melt it with the butter in a bowl set over a pan containing a little simmering water, stirring until smooth. At the same time, combine the cocoa, golden syrup and 75ml water in a small pan and heat to just under boiling, whisking until smooth.

Add this to the melted chocolate and blend until thick. Smooth two thirds over the top of the cake and a third around the side. Set aside for 30 minutes. Finish to your liking with Easter-themed decorations, then set aside in a cool place for 2 hours to set fully.

Hints 'n' Tips

Buy pistachios ready-shelled and grind them in an electric coffee grinder. The pistachio layer gives the cake an added dimension, but you could use ground almonds for all three layers.

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