Surprisingly, shockingly, and against all odds, I was commissioned with making the desserts for our Thanksgiving last year, way back in twenty-eleven. Yes, I'm just posting about them now, over two months later. Judge not lest ye be judged.
In addition to a triple cream cheesecake smothered with a baked apple topping (!), I made one heck of a phenomenal sky-high cake (if I do say so myself--horn tooted!)
The cake was an aptly-titled duchess* spice cake, fragrant with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. To moisten the cake, I applied a cinnamon-infused simple syrup to each layer. The finishing and, dare I say it, finest touch was a brown sugar cream cheese frosting. How I, an avid lover of cream cheese frosting, have managed to miss this more mellow and flavorful variation is beyond me. It's amazing, and I recommend it (and this particular cake-frosting combination) 100%.
*On an unrelated note, the name of this cake calls to mind a show that I'm happy to say I adored way before it became the thing to do. Matthew and Mary, I'm pulling for you crazy kids!
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 cup butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups water
4 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
Brown sugar cream cheese frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt together.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the sugars and butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the dry ingredients alternating with the buttermilk and mix just until incorporated. Beat in vanilla.
Bake at for 30 to 35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely, then cut each layer in half horizontally. (It helps tremendously to freeze the layers for about 30 minutes first.)
To make the simple syrup, add water and cinnamon to a small pot and bring to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, and strain out cinnamon sticks. Bring water back to a boil, add sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.
To make the frosting, beat butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar until smooth. I felt the need to add a little sifted powdered sugar to obtain the proper spreading consistency, but use your own judgment.
To assemble, liberally brush the four sides of exposed cake with the simple syrup. Slather the frosting between the halved and syruped layers (stacking as you go), then frost the sides and top in a decorative fashion. Chill for a bit to let things mingle, then slice and serve!