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Baby Block Cake

It takes a little work to build this cake, but the results will wow your guests. The whipped-cream frosting is a delicious complement to the moist almond cake and raspberry filling. The trick to this cake is to make and apply the frosting the evening before or the morning of the party, since whipped cream can absorb flavors from the refrigerator.

Almond pound cake

3/4 cup slivered, blanched almonds
2 cups sugar
8 large eggs
2 tbsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups (24 oz.) sour cream
3 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 sticks and 3 tbsp. butter, softened

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat two 8" x 8" pans with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Combine almonds and a ¼ cup of the sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until very finely ground. Set aside.

2. In medium bowl, combine eggs, almond extract, vanilla extract, and 1 cup of the sour cream. Set aside.

3. In large mixing bowl, combine reserved ground almond mixture, flour, the remaining sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add butter and the remaining sour cream to bowl and beat on low speed until batter is moist. Increase speed to medium and beat 1 minute. Add reserved egg mixture in three batches, beating until well-combined and scraping down the bowl after each addition.

4. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes until cake is dark golden-brown and toothpick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean. Cool completely on wire racks.

Yield: two 8" x 8" cakes, which yield 3 four-inch blocks (serves 24)