Okay, here we go – less talk, more cake.
- Preheat your oven to 350° F.
- Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt and set aside.
- In a second medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporating and scraping down the sides before adding the next.
- Reduce your mixer speed to low and alternately add your flour and pumpkin mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pans. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (some crumbs are okay since it will be moist).
- Cool the cakes in their pans for about 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from their pans and let cool completely before frosting.
- For the icing, bring a small pot of water to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk the egg whites, sugar, and salt together in a metal bowl (ideally the bowl of your stand mixer) and set the bowl over the simmering pot of water. Continue whisking the mixture for 2-3 minutes without stopping, until the mixture heats up and slightly thickens, and the sugar dissolves completely. To check that the sugar has dissolved, rub some of the mixture between two fingers to feel for any remaining granules of sugar.
- Once the sugar has fully dissolved, take the bowl off the heat and put it into the base of your stand mixer. Using your whisk attachment or an electric mixer, continue beating the egg white mixture on high speed until it forms hard peaks (about 10 minutes).
- Adjust the mixer speed to medium and add the butter one piece at a time to the egg white mixture. Be careful that each piece of butter is incorporated with the mixture before you add the next. Note: it is important to continue mixing during the entire time you add the butter, cream cheese, and mascarpone.
- After all of the butter has been working into the mixture, add the vanilla, being sure to keep the mixer at medium speed the entire time.
- Add the cream cheese little by little, just like the butter, ensuring each piece has been incorporated in the mixture before adding the next.
- Repeat the process with the mascarpone cheese. Mix until you have a cohesive icing, about 10 minutes.
- For the candied pecans, melt the butter in a small pan over low heat. Add the pecans, sprinkle with sugar, and turn to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar coats and caramelizes the nuts. Remove to a plate and sprinkle with salt and pumpkin pie spice. Let cool.
- To assemble, top one cake with apple butter (the amount is up to you for how thick or thin you liked your cake filling).
- Top the other cake with some of the mascarpone cream cheese icing.
- Sandwich the cakes together so the apple butter and mascarpone cream cheese icing are smooshed in the middle.
- Ice the rest of the cake with the remaining mascarpone cream cheese icing and top with the candied pecans. Feel free to experiment here and throw some pecans in between the layers, too!
For the pumpkin cake
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin puree
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
For the mascarpone cream cheese icing
2 large egg whites
5 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 1/3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2 cubes
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
For the candied pecans
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Fine salt, for sprinkling
Pumpkin pie spice, for sprinkling
For the assembly
Apple butter (I used this one)