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Kiwifruit Layer Cake

1 unfilled 8 or 9-inch round white layer cake
1 Tbsp instant coffee
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 Tbsp rum or brandy
300 ml heavy cream
6-8 kiwifruit
1/2 to 3/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup canned mandarins, fresh mandarin orange segments or fresh
sliced strawberries, or both strawberries and mandarin oranges

Split each layer of cake so you have four thin round layers. Put
one of these aside for other use [or make a really tall, 4-layer
cake!] and place the other three side by side on a clean working
surface.

Heat the coffee, sugar and water, stirring until the sugar dissolves,
then boil without stirring until a drop between your thumb and
forefinger forms a thread when your thumb and forefinger are moved
a centimeter apart [238 degrees, I think, or thread stage on a
candy thermometer--much easier than burning your fingers]. Cool
until you can put your hand on the bottom of the container, then
stir in the rum or brandy.

Drizzle each of the three sponge layers with a third of the coffee
syrup, covering the surface evenly [if you're going to make a
4-layer cake, make more syrup]. Whip the cream stiffly, put a
quarter on each of two layers, then cover with two thirds of the
thickly sliced kiwifruit. Stack these two layers on a flat serving
plate, and cover with the remaining layer. Spread the remaining
cream over the top and sides.

Toast the almonds until golden brown, under a broiler. or in a
dry frying pan on the stove and when they are cool press them into
the cream on the sides of the cake, tilting it slightly, and rotating
it. Cover lightly, and refrigerate at least 12 hours before serving.
The texture changes during this time. Just before serving decorate
the top with a ring of overlapping kiwifruit slices. Pile drained
mandarin segments in the centre of the cake if desired.

Note: refrigerate leftovers. The kiwifruit between the layers will
look good a day later, but the fruit on the top may need to be
replaced.

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