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Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray and line with circles of parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking powder being sure it is free of lumps and aerated. Set aside.
Chop the almonds by hand or with a small food processor until fine crumbs.
In an electric mixer, whip egg whites until stiff. Set aside. Using an electric mixer and a different bowl, combine sugar, butter and vanilla and beat on medium high for 4 minutes until it is light a fluffy, scraping down sides of the bowl once or twice.
With machine running on medium, gradually add dry ingredients alternately with milk until smooth. Gently fold in the egg whites and the nuts.
Spoon batter into the two prepared pans and bake 30 minutes until center of cakes test dry using a toothpick. Remove to a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then turn out of pans onto cooling racks and cool completely.
To make the frosting:In a small saucepan, bring sugar, water, cream of tartar and salt to the boil until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 2 minutes.
Place egg whites into bowl of an electric mixer and whip until foamy. With machine running, add the sugar syrup to the egg whites in a gradual stream and continue to beat until very glossy and stiff peaks form, for 7 minutes.
Add vanilla and beat for 1 additional minute.
Frost layers and sides of the cake with about 2/3 of the frosting, then swirl the remainder on top. Decorate with the toasted almonds.