GINGER SPICE LAYER CAKE WITH APPLE BUTTER MASCARPONE FROSTING

  The Barley and sorghum fields have been harvested and the {once} green, rolling hills of Northern Virginia are now brown and withered; meanwhile the bronze, red, and yellow hues from the hickory, beech, and red maple trees are scattered about the mountainside and valleys, creating a fiery picturesque scene.  Dotting the sides of the road are small farm stands selling freshly picked apples by the bushel, locally made ciders by the jug, mason jars filled with jelly of all kinds, and honey.  The air is crisp with the pleasant scent of burning wood and chimney smoke here and there- Oh, there are hundreds of things I could write about this beautiful time of the year, as well as the scenes and feelings felt within it.  It’s already passing by so quickly.  Soon all the trees will be bare and it will be brutally cold once again.

  But to every season there is always a downside, to me that downside is the withering of all the lovely flowers.  Flowers are a very crucial part of my blogging as they are practically the only ‘props’ that I use.  Just when I was saddened by not having any flowers to decorate with, I went on a walk around my neighbor’s farm and found a lone pink rose in one of the garden beds.  It was laden with rain droplets and was perfect in every way; alongside the rose were the prettiest purple mums.  In the end, I ended up smiling as it worked out.  But, pretty soon I won’t be so lucky.

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  As you can see if you scroll through my recent posts I’ve been doing a lot of baking with apples.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of baking with them and I’ll be saddened when the season ends.  Usually I would make my own products using apples as that’s something I like doing instead of buying it pre-made from a supermarket, but I was really anxious to bake this cake that’s been on my mind for quite some time(and was unable to bake as I was away from my kitchen); so, once I got home I made my way to one of the many farm stands in my area that was selling their locally made apple products.  I found the most delicious apple butter and it happened to be made by the local Lions Club members.  Every year they go out and pick apples from the orchards nearby and dedicate an entire day of their time in the kitchen of a community cannery making the apple butter.  They can a thousand or so jars of it and sell it around the county!  Even though I didn’t have time to make my own apple butter, I still got to use it fresh(with local apples, too).

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  My absolute favorite part about this cake?  Well, that would have to be the frosting.  I really wanted something delicious that wasn’t your mundane American buttercream, so I played with it a bit and added mascarpone cheese and a custard that was flavored with that delicious apple butter I bought.  It’s like a hybrid of American and German buttercream(and it’s oh so good).  It’s smooth to the palate when eaten and it spreads beautifully!  In the layers are the spices of fall(as I call them), a hint of vanilla, and for that tender and moist crumb:  more apple butter.

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*Majority of measurements used is in metric units.


GINGER SPICE LAYER CAKE WITH APPLE BUTTER MASCARPONE FROSTING

cake

175 grams unsalted butter, room temperature

500 grams granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 large fresh eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup local apple butter

250 grams cake flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

312 grams milk, room temperature

 

frosting

2 large fresh egg yolks

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup + 3 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/3 cup apple butter

8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

dash of ground cloves

pinch of salt

method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and line(with parchment) three, 8-inch cake pans.
  2. In an electric standing mixer with whisks attached, combine the sugar, butter, and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 7-8 minutes until light and fluffy.  Meanwhile in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, spices, baking powder, and baking soda until combined.  Set aside.  Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the eggs; beating one at a time until just combined(about 10 seconds each egg).  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Add the apple butter and half of the flour mixture and half the milk.  Beat on medium until just combined; scrape down the bowl once more and add the remaining milk and flour, beat till just combined.  
  3. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 23-25 minutes.  Check for doneness at 23 minutes using a toothpick; if it comes out clean it’s done, if not, bake 2 more minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.  Let the cakes rest in their pans for 10 minutes, then using a sharp knife, gently loosen the cakes from around the edges of the pan.  Invert onto wire racks to cool completely, about one hour.
  4.  Once cooled, assemble the cake.  Place the first layer flat side down on your cake board/plate/stand and add about 3/4 cups of the frosting.  Spread around with an offset spatula, then add the second layer, flat side facing up.  Add 3/4 more of the frosting, spread; then place the third layer, flat side facing up.  Add the remaining frosting to the top of the cake and around the sides(it’s a naked cake so there will be a very, very little frosting for the edges).

frosting:

  1. Place a small mixing bowl in the refrigerator for later use.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often so it doesn’t burn.  Remove from heat and stir in the apple butter, let it sit for five minutes(it will look very grainy, so don’t freak out!).  Using a fine mesh strainer/sieve, strain out the mixture over a bowl to catch the liquid.  Discard the pulpy stuff and set the liquid aside.
  3. Create a double boiler by filling a medium-sized pot with a few inches of water, then place a heatproof bowl large enough to fit on top of the pot without touching the water.  Bring the water to a slow simmer over medium-low heat then add the egg yolks and sugar to the bowl; stir with a whisk until the sugar dissolves and egg yolks look a bit pale.  Continue to whisk the eggs, then slowly stream in the milk mixture.  Whisk constantly till the mixture is thick, this may take a few minutes.  Once the mixture has thickened, immediately remove the bowl from atop the pot of water and pour the custard into the chilled bowl.  Again, whisk frivolously until the mixture is cool to the touch.  
  4. In an electric mixer with beaters/whisks attached, add the soft butter and mascarpone cheese.  Beat on medium speed until combined and smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, salt, and custard and beat on medium-high until the mixture is combined and has become light in color and quite volumized, about 2 minutes.
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