Ginger Pecan Cake
3 cups flour sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans ground fine
9 toasted pecan halves
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter room temperature
3 cups light brown sugar sifted
6 lrg eggs lightly beaten
1 cup milk plus
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pint creme fraiche
2 teaspoons bourbon optional
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar to taste
1/4 ounce crystallized ginger cut thin strips
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
CAKE: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange two racks in the center of oven. Line bottoms of three 8- by 2-inch buttered cake pans with parchment. Dust bottoms and sides with flour; tap out excess.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and ground ginger into medium bowl. Add ground pecans, and whisk to combine; set aside. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add brown sugar until fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Drizzle in eggs, a little at a time, beating each time until batter is no longer slick, about 5 minutes; scrape down sides twice.
On low, add flour mixture to sugar-butter mixture, alternating with milk, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with flour mixture; scrape down bowl twice. Beat in grated ginger and vanilla.
Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake 30 minutes; rotate pans, if necessary, for even browning. Bake 5 to 10 minutes more, until cake tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean. Transfer pans to wire racks to cool, about 15 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, and return to wire racks, tops up; let cool. (Makes three 8-inch layers)
To assemble cake, remove parchment from bottoms of cakes. Set aside prettiest layer, it will be used for top of cake. Place one layer on serving platter, and spread with half the creme fraiche filling; repeat with second layer. Top cake with reserved third. Chill cake while icing is being prepared. Pour the icing onto the center point on the top of the cake, and let it flow down the sides. When the icing has set slightly, 5 to 10 minutes, arrange the pecan halves and crystallized ginger on the top.
GLOSSY CARAMEL ICING: Place sugar in a large skillet over medium heat. Let cook until it begins to melt and turns golden, 2 to 3 minutes. As sugar melts, stir with back of a wooden spoon if needed, until amber colored, and about 310 degrees on candy thermometer, 3 to 4 minutes. Slowly pour cream into skillet, being careful as you pour because it willl splatter. Stir with wooden spoon, reducing
Yield: 1 eight-inch cake