I have had a fascination with this cake for some considerable number of months. I've been wanting to make it and wanting to make it and wanting to make for AGES. I very much love Deb's Smitten Kitchen blog - so much so that I pre-ordered her cookbook the day it came out and I'm waiting with bated breath for it to show up. In the meantime, I'm baking my way through the back numbers - which brought me here.
I was explaining the cake to Will - while we were eating enormous steaks, now I think about it - and bemoaning the fact that it's hard to make for work and anyway was enough of a spectacle that it really needed an event suitable for it. Whereupon Will invited me to his birthday bash, which involves approaching 20 people in his parents' beautiful house, barbecuing, eating and drinking... Also plenty of chasing about with two labradoodles, one of whom was clearly designed to be in a cartoon, trying to make friends with the horses and biting nails over the Olympics. Brilliant.
The cake itself is remarkably easy to make. That's sort of the thing about baking - you do one step after the other, just like the recipe says, and it all comes right in the end. You do have to measure, and it is worth doing the little things that seem fussy, like weighing your batter into the tins to make sure they're the same thickness or browning the nuts before you grind them...and when you do that, it all works. I only had 2 cake pans for a 3 layer cake, so I did a lot of weighing out of ingredients and dividing them so that I could bake in stages.
Producing the cake was overkill. Totally. It was enormously excessive and unnecessary, and went down brilliantly. I will do it again.