Apple-Spice Layer Cake with Caramel Swirl Icing

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HOW TO MAKE IT : 

1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease either two or three 9-inch cake pans depending on your preference and/or the size of your cake pans.  Mine are incredibly deep so I only used two but if yours are not so deep, then you want to use three.  Line each pan with parchment paper and grease that as well.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Beat in the molasses and scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the eggs one at a time, only adding the next after the previous one has been thoroughly incorporated.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger.  Add the sour cream and flour mixture alternately to the batter, starting and ending with the flour (flour in 3 increments, sour cream in 2).  Stir in the shredded apples trying to leave as much juice behind as possible, vanilla, and fresh ginger.

4. Split evenly among your cake pans.  If using two cake pans, put on the same rack in the oven.  If using three, place two of the pans side by side on one rack and the third on the other rack.  Make sure they are staggered so that no pan is directly under the other.  Bake 35-40 minutes if using three or 50-55 minutes if using two, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Rearrange the layers about halfway through.

5. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Carefully unmold the cakes to a cooling rack.  Let cool completely before icing.  I made these on Wednesday night and then iced on Thursday morning.

6. For the icing – cream the butter on medium-high speed for three minutes or until fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar over low speed until combined.  Then, add the cream and vanilla.  Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 3 minutes, or until fluffy.  Add the mascarpone and beat over low speed or until just incorporated.  Take one of your batches of caramel and heat just until it’s a bit liquidy but not so hot that it’s scorching.  You want it to be around room temperature.  Stir into the frosting, using large strokes to create swirls.  Place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate and spread icing over the top of it.  Top with the second cake and repeat.  (And then again with the third if using three layers).  Cover the cake with an even layer of frosting.  I found this frosting to be less stiff than most so it was hard to get a super pretty frosting job.  No matter since you’re going to be covering it with pecans and caramel!  Ah, the beauty of this cake.Pat the toasted pecans onto the sides of the cake.  Melt your second batch of caramel to just room temperature.  Pour of the the top and, using a spoon, spread it almost to the sides of your cake.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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