Grease and flour 8-cup (2 L) and 12 cup (3 L) cake pans. Line bottoms with waxed or parchment paper and set aside.
In very large bowl, cream butter, sugar, lemon rind and almond extract until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and sa< stir in ground almonds. Stir into creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, making 3 additions of the dry mixture and 2 additions of the sour cream.
Pour 3 cups (750 mL) of the batter into small pan; pour remaining batter into large pan. Tap pans lightly on counter to release excess air bubbles. Bake in 325F (160C) oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let stand in pans for 10 minutes. Loosen edges and turn out onto racks. Remove waxed paper and let cool completely. Repeat recipe to make a total of 4 layers.
To level cakes, use ruler as guide and insert toothpicks around sides to mark even cutting line. With long serrated knife, cut off rounded tops. Remove toothpicks. (Cake layers can be wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.)
Place one large layer, cut side up, on serving base; slip strips of waxed paper under cake to protect base from icing. Spread about 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) icing over top of layer for filling. Top with second large layer, cut side down; spread icing over sides and top. Dip palette knife into hot water and smooth icing. Refrigerate until firm.
Icing: In very large mixing bowl, beat butter and lemon juice until fluffy. Gradually beat in icing sugar. Fold in cream cheese. Spoon 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) into piping bag fitted with star tip, set aside for decorating. Beat lemon rind into remaining icing.
Place bottom layer of small tier on slightly smaller round of stiff foil-covered cardboard. Using about 3/4 cup (175 mL) icing for filling, assemble and ice as per large tier.
Using same 8-cup (2 L) cake pan, trace outline on bottom tier. Cut 7 plastic straws exact height of bottom tier. Insert evenly spaced straws 1 inch (2.5 cm) inside outline; insert remaining straw in centre.
Centre top tier on bottom tier, using traced outline as guide. Remove waxed paper strips. With reserved icing, pipe shell pattern around top and bottom edges of each tier. (Cake can prepared to this point end refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
Garnish: Just before serving, decorate cake with flowers and lemon rind.
Makes 60 servings.
Additional Information Tip: To serve cake, remove top tier with 2 metal spatulas and set aside. Following outside shape of cake, cut border about 2 inches (5 cm) from outside edge; cut border into small slices. Repeat once more. Cut centre portion into wedges. Repeat with top tier, cutting only 1 border.
Cake Decorating Ideas, see:
http://www.pastrywiz.com/wedding/wedding27f.htm Sugar Art Flowers/Petals/etc: