This luscious, buttery cake with a hint of lemon is perfect for a summer party. It will keep well, in fact it is better the next day. It can also be made year round – fill it with jam and cream or dried fruit compote when fresh berries are not available.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pan and line the bottoms with a round of parchment.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt onto a sheet of wax paper. In a small bowl mix together the eggs with a fork. Stir in the vanilla.
To make the cake, put the almond paste in the bowl of an electric mixer and using the paddle attachment, beat the almond paste on low speed until it breaks up. Slowly add the sugar, beating until it is incorporated. Beat in the butter a little at a time. Turn up the speed to medium and continue beating until the butter is light and fluffy. With the mixer still on medium, pour in the eggs in a slow steady stream. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and then continue to beat for another 30 seconds.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, and stir in the sifted dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Stir in the lemon zest and poppy seeds. Do not over mix. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and bake on the lower rack for 35 to 40 minutes, until the center springs back when touched lightly and the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and let cool on racks for 5 minutes. Turn over onto the racks and cool completely. When cool, cut each cake in half to make four layers.
Meanwhile, place the blueberries in a small pan with the lemon zest and some sugar. Cook gently until the blueberries pop and are soft. Let cool. Add sugar to taste.
In the cleaned out bowl of the electric mixer, whisk the mascarpone until smooth, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Then, whisk until thick but not grainy looking.
To assemble, place the bottom layer of cake on a cake plate. Spread one-quarter of the mascarpone mixture on top. Drizzle over one quarter of the blueberries, then, sprinkle with some of the raspberries and some slices of peaches. Repeat with the remaining layers ending with the mascarpone and arranging the fruit decoratively on top. Decorate the edges of the cake with edible green leaves. Serves 8 to 10. Frances Wilson