One 20 cm (8 inch) round cake (we used butter cake, but you ' could use chocolate, mud or coconut cake)
250 g (8 oz) unsalted butter
125 g (4 oz) icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 teaspoons milk
Kirsch or other fruit-based liqueur
4 tablespoons raspberry jam
300 g (10 oz) white chocolate melts
5 fresh figs, quartered
1 To make the buttercream, beat the butter with electric beaters until light and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar alternately with the vanilla essence and milk, beating until smooth and fluffy.
2 Use a serrated knife to slice the cake horizontally into 3 even layers. Place the bottom layer on a board or plate. Brush with a little liqueur and spread with half the jam. Spread with a thin layer of buttercream. Place another cake layer on top and repeat the layers. Top with the remaining cake layer, and spread the rest of the buttercream evenly over the cake.
3 Put the white chocolate melts in a heatproof bowl. Bring a small pan of water to a simmer, remove from the heat and place the bowl over the pan (don't let the bottom of the bowl sit in the water). Stir the chocolate until melted. (Or melt in the microwave for 1 minute on High, stirring after 30 seconds.) 4 Spread the melted chocolate in 5x11 cm (2x5 inch) strips over a sheet of baking paper. Leave to set completely before removing from the paper—you will need about 20 of these shapes but make a few extra in case of breakages. Break one end of each strip or trim with a knife to give a flat base, then stand them upright around the edge of the cake, slightly overlapping. You can tie a ribbon around the cake or leave it plain. Arrange the fresh fig quarters around the edge.
Brush the cake with liqueur, spread with jam and then with buttercream.
Spread the melted white chocolate in strips over a sheet of baking paper.
Break the end off each strip oj chocolate, to give a flat base to stand it up on.
Ahead of time: This cake can be decorated up to 2 days in advance, but add the figs just before serving. Keep in a cool dark place in an airtight container or in the fridge in warm weather.