I really like cakes that have layers of filling alternated with cake soaked in liquor - it reminds me of the kind of cakes my mom would buy from Lutz Bakery in Chicago for birthday parties when I was growing up. The genoise is my adaptation of Susan Purdy's recipe in A Piece of Cake. —VanessaS
Preheat oven to 350 and place rack in the middle of the oven. Butter a 18x12 inch jelly roll pan and line the bottom with parchment. Butter the parchment, sprinkle a little flour around the inside and shake out the excess flour.
Whisk flour and salt and set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Place eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and place over a double boiler of water that is hot, but not so hot that you can’t hold your finger in it. Place mixer bowl on top and whisk until sugar is dissolved and egg mixture starts to feel a little warm to the touch. Put mixer bowl onto electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment and whisk at high speed for 5 minutes, until very light in color and fluffy like marshmallow fluff. Add vanilla and almond extract and whisk for a second to blend. Add almond meal and mix at low speed for 10 seconds. Add ½ cup of flour mixture and mix at low speed for ten seconds – repeat until all flour is incorporated. Add butter and whisk at high speed for 10 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and give it a final stir with a spatula to make sure everything is mixed. Pour into pan and bake for 15 minutes, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Let sit in pan for 5 minutes, loosen edges with butter knife and flip out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely.
In a medium bowl, mix ricotta, clove, 6 teaspoons of the cognac, prunes, almonds, vanilla and honey. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat water and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Stir in 1 teaspoon of cognac.
Line a 9x5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap – lay one sheet widthwise and one sheet lengthwise. With a serrated knife, trim the edges off of the cake. Cut one slice as wide as the bottom of your loaf pan. Put one cake piece in the bottom of the loaf pan and brush with a third of the cognac mixture. Spread half of ricotta over the cake mixture and top with another cake piece cut to fit the middle of the loaf pan. Again, brush with a third of the cognac mixture. Cut another section of cake as wide as the top of the loaf pan. Place cake section on a flat surface, brush with remaining cognac mixture, and put in loaf pan, wet side down. Top with the remaining ricotta mixture, tighten up the plastic wrap over the top of the cake and refrigerate overnight preferably, but at least 6 hours.