CHERRY-AL­MOND PANDORO LAYER CAKE

Food & Drink - - RECIPES -

Both panettone and pandoro are gifted at Christ­mas (you’ll find them to­gether in the shops) but they are very dif­fer­ent in flavour. With­out can­died fruits, and more cake than bread, this show-stop­per sings Noel with its Christ­mas tree shape, dust­ing of su­gar “snow” and red cherry dec­o­ra­tions. Best of all, it’s su­per easy! Start three days be­fore by soak­ing fresh cherries in cherry liqueur, and com­plete it just be­fore serv­ing; it shouldn’t sit for more than an hour as it may start to sag and slide, es­pe­cially if not kept cold.

3 cups (750 mL) fresh, stemmed and pit­ted cherries (see TIP)

3 cups (750 mL) Luxardo cherry liqueur or cherry brandy

2 cups (500 mL) mas­car­pone

⅓ cup (80 mL) 35% cream

½ cup (125 mL) su­per fine vanilla or plain white su­gar

½ cup (125 mL) sliced al­monds, plus a pinch ex­tra for gar­nish­ing

1 pandoro (about 750 g), size de­pends on bak­ery or brand

1 or 2 wooden skew­ers, each 10 inches (25 cm) long

2 tbsp (30 mL) ic­ing su­gar for dust­ing

1 Place cherries into a large jar with a tight­fit­ting lid and add the liqueur. Cover and set on the counter to soak for 3 days. Once a day, give the jar a shake to move the cherries around.

2 When ready to as­sem­ble the cake, drain the cherries through a sieve, col­lect­ing and sav­ing the liqueur; set aside. You can use any leftover liqueur in drinks, bak­ing or to soak more fruit. It’s also pretty de­li­cious on the rocks!

3 Into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the mas­car­pone, cream and su­gar. Mix on medium-high speed un­til well com­bined, su­gar is mostly dis­solved and a lit­tle light­ness and vol­ume has been achieved, about 2 min­utes or less. Do not over-mix or the cream may turn to but­ter!

4 Add the al­monds and give it one last spin to com­bine. Set aside in the fridge to chill for about 20 min­utes.

5 Lay the pandoro on its side and slice it hor­i­zon­tally into 5 equally thick lay­ers.

6 Us­ing a pas­try brush, paint the cut side of the bot­tom slice of pandoro with the cherry liqueur; set it onto a serv­ing plate, spread about ⅓ cup (80 mL) of the mas­car­pone mix­ture al­most to the edges, then top that with about ⅓ cup (80 mL) of the cherries. This part isn’t science; just use your eye to di­vide up the fill­ing and cherries; you will need less and less as you go since the slabs of cake get smaller and smaller.

7 Con­tinue on by paint­ing the next layer with liqueur, spread­ing it with mas­car­pone, adding some cherries, and so on un­til all lay­ers are used.

8 Run 1 or 2 long wooden skew­ers through the cake to pre­vent it from slid­ing or fall­ing over. Once the skew­ers are shoved all the way down, fin­ish with a dol­lop of the mas­car­pone mix­ture on the very top. Top this with a few cherries and a pinch of sliced al­monds. Dust it with ic­ing su­gar through a sieve. Serve im­me­di­ately! Serves 8 TIP

No cherry pit­ter? No prob­lem! Sim­ply set each cherry on the open­ing of a soda or wine bot­tle, and with a straw—stain­less steel is best—push the pit right through and down into the bot­tle.

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