Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake, with Brown Butter/Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting and Toasted Pecans
To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans by spraying them with non-stick spray, lining the bottom and sides with parchment paper, and then spraying the parchment paper with non-stick spray. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Cook the butter, swirling occasionally, until it turns a nutty golden brown, about 5 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. In another larger bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, eggs and buttermilk. Gradually whisk in the flour mixture until combined. Add the brown butter and whisk until incorporated. Divide the batter between the cake pans.
Bake until the cake tests done, about 28-30 minutes. Set the pans on wire racks and cool completely in the pans.
To make the frosting:
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Cook the butter, swirling occasionally, until it turns a nutty golden brown, about 5 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Set the bowl in the freezer and chill for 20 minutes.
Scrape the chilled butter (discarding the browned solids at the bottom) into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the cream cheese and brown sugar. Beat on medium speed for 5 minutes, scraping as needed, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until you have the desired spreading consistency.
To assemble the cake:
Remove the cooled cakes from the pans and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Level the tops of the cakes with a sharp knife or cake leveler. Carefully divide each cake into two equal layers, so you have 4 layers of cake.
Place one layer of cake on a cake plate. Top with just enough frosting to spread it about 1/4 inch thick. Add the second layer of cake, and spread with a 1/4 inch layer of frosting. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Top with the third layer of cake, and spread with a 1/4 inch layer of frosting. Top with the final layer of cake, bottom side up so you have a smooth surface for the top. Apply a thin crumb coat of frosting all over the top and sides of the cake. Let sit for 20 minutes. When the crumb coat has set, finish frosting the cake, reserving 1 cup to pipe decoratively around the top edge of the cake. Sprinkle the top with the remaining chopped pecans. Line the bottom with the whole pecans, all the way around.
Refrigerate the cake until ready to
serve and refrigerate any leftovers. The cake will stay moist and fresh
for days, if refrigerated and covered.
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking.