Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Apple-Spice Layer Cake with Caramel Swirl Icing

Apple-Spice Layer Cake with Caramel Swirl Icing


3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups sugar
2 Tbs molasses
6 large eggs
3 cups cake flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbs ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup sour cream
3 granny smith apples, peeled and shredded (1 1/2-2 cups)
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 Tbs fresh minced ginger (optional)

1 1/2-2 cups caramel
3 sticks butter, at room temperature
2 Tbs heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone
2 cups pecan pieces, toasted (optional)
Place one oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and place a second in the top third. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease 3 9-inch cake pans, then line each one with a parchment paper round and grease the rounds.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the molasses, and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the eggs one at at a time, beating well after each egg. In a medium bowl, sift together the four, baking soda, salt, and ground spices. Add the sour cream and flour mixture alternately to the batter, starting and ending with the flour mixture (flour in 3 increments, sour cream in 2 increments). Stir in the shredded apples, vanilla, and fresh ginger.

The batter will be thick, so use a spoon to transfer evenly into the three pans (I actually used my kitchen scale to make sure I had even layers - anal much?). Place 2 of the pans side by side on one rack, and the third on the other rack. Make sure they are staggered so that no layer is directly under or above another. Bake 35-40 minutes, rearranging the layers about halfway through, until firm to the touch. Monitor the layers carefully, as they may be ready at different times.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and carefully unmold the cakes to a cooling rack. Cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, cream the butter on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale. Add the powdered sugar over low speed until combined, then add the cream and vanilla. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the mascarpone and beat over low speed just until combined - it may seperate and curdle if its overbeaten.

Reserve about 1/4-1/3 cup of the caramel, then stir the remaining caramel into the frosting, using large strokes to create swirls throughout.

Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate or decorating stand, and spread a layer of icing on top. Top with the second cake, then repeat with more icing, then the final layer. Cover the cake with an even layer of frosting. Pat (or fling) the toasted pecans onto the sides of the cake, then decorate the top as you desire. Drizzle the remaining caramel over the top.

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