2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 large egg whites, beaten to blend
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
For Filling and Decorating:
4 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
1 cup strawberry preserves
2 pounds strawberries, hulled, sliced
1 pound strawberries, hulled
1 1/2 pounds marzipan (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper; butter paper. Dust pans with flour. Combine first 4 ingredients in bowl of electric stand mixer. Add butter and mix with whisk attachment until mixture resembles moist crumbs. Add milk, egg whites and extracts. Mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.
DO-AHEAD TIP: Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap well with plastic and store at room temperature.
FOR FILLING: Using long serrated knife, cut each cake layer evenly into 2 layers. Using electric mixer, beat 2 1/2 cups cream in large bowl until firm peaks form. Place 1 cake layer on platter or Cake Plate. Spread cake with 1/3 cup strawberry preserves. Arrange strawberry slices evenly over preserves. Spread enough cream over strawberries to cover (about 3/4 cup). Repeat layering cake, preserves, strawberries and cream two times; top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining whipped cream over top and sides of cake.
FOR DECORATING: Using electric mixer, beat remaining 2 cups cream in large bowl until firm peaks form. Place whole strawberries over top of cake, points up, leaving 1 1/2-inch border. Using pastry bag fitted with large star tip, pipe cream up sides of cake in vertical lines. Frost top border of cake with remaining whipped cream. Refrigerate until whipped cream is set, about 2 hours.
DO-AHEAD TIP: Can be made up to 6 hours ahead.
ALTERNATIVE MARZIPAN DECORATION: Instead of decorating the cake with piped whipped cream and whole strawberries, Roll out half of marzipan between 2 sheets of parchment paper into thin (about 1/8-inch thick) round. Using 9-inch round cake pan as template, cut out 9-inch round from marzipan. Set round aside.
Knead scraps into remaining marzipan, then Roll out between sheets of parchment into 14x10-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle into two 5-inch wide strips. Place 1 strip carefully against side of cake, pressing gently to adhere. Place remaining strip on opposite side of cake, covering side of cake with marzipan. Place round on top of cake. Press down edges.
Gather marzipan scraps. Color with green and red food coloring if desired. Decorate with hand-molded berries and vines.
DO-AHEAD TIP: Marzipan covered cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Date: July 6, 2002