Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5. Grease and flour 2 x 18cm/7in sandwich tins.
Put the margarine, caster sugar, self-raising flour, eggs, vanilla essence and hot water into a mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
Divide equally between the two prepared tins and bake for about 20 minutes until the sponge is golden and springs back to the touch. Leave for 5 minutes then turn out on to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Cut each sponge in half horizontally so that you have four layers.
Whip the cream until stiff and fold in the kirsch. Put about a quarter of the cream one side for the decoration.
Reserve six evenly-sized strawberries and slice the remainder. 7. Spread each layer of sponge with cream and top with strawberries. Make sure you leave enough cream to coat the top and sides of the gateau. Smooth the top.
Coat the sides of the gateau with toasted almonds. Use the reserved cream to pipe rosettes on the top. Halve the reserved strawberries and use to decorate.
Chill until required.