For the Cake:
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
- 7 egg whites
- Pinch salt
For the Frosting:
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 egg whites
- Pinch salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
TO MAKE THE CAKE: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line three 8 or 9-inch cake pans with parchment or wax paper and butter the paper. In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until the butter is light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. with the mixer running, alternately add a third of the flour to the creamed butter, then the milk, and stir the batter until it is just combined. Stir in the chopped almonds.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they just hold stiff peaks. Stir one-third of the beaten whites into the batter and then gently fold in the remaining whites. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. Cool the cakes for 20 minutes, then carefully unmold each cake and place them on a rack to cool.
TO MAKE THE FROSTING: In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, stir the sugar and water together. Boil until the sugar reaches a temperature of 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer. This should take about 33 minutes. While the sugar is cooking, with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until they just hold stiff peaks. Once the sugar has reached 238 degrees F, slowly and carefully pour it into the beaten whites while the mixer is running on high speed. Add the vanilla extract and continue to beat until the meringue has completely cooled about 15 minutes.
TO DECORATE THE CAKE: Place one layer of cake on a cake circle or plate and spread some of the frostings evenly over the surface with a metal spatula. Top with the second layer, repeat the process, and finally top with the third layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting