The spices in this cake remind author Tracey Seaman of apple pie and mulled cider. If you want a final flourish, serve the cake with sliced peeled apples that have been sautéed in a little butter with lemon juice and cinnamon-sugar.
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
How to Make It
Step 1 Assemble the cake
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the bottom of two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans with wax paper and grease the paper thoroughly.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter with the brown sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the maple syrup.
In a medium bowl, whisk the cake flour with the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, ginger and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the top. Bake the cakes in the bottom third of the oven for about 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans, peel off the wax paper and place right side up on racks to cool completely.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and 3 tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat, brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Let the syrup boil until it turns a medium amber color, about 5 minutes; swirl the pan gently to blend the color. Remove from the heat and carefully pour in 1/2 cup of the cream; stand back to avoid splatters. Stir with a wooden spoon until blended and smooth. Let cool completely.
Beat the remaining 2 cups cream with the confectioners' sugar until firm. Fold 1/2 cup of the caramel into the cream in two additions.
Place one cake layer right side up on a cake platter. Spread 1 cup of the caramel cream on top. Cover with the second cake layer, bottom side up. Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining caramel cream. Drizzle the remaining caramel in zigzags over the top of the cake. To serve, slice gently with a serrated cake knife.
The cakes can be baked 1 day ahead; wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature. The caramel can be kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours. The assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 hours.
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