Autumn Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
2 1/4 cups (318g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 3/4 cups (370g) packed light-brown sugar
3/4 cup (175ml) vegetable oil
3/4 cup (185g) unsweetened applesauce
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Cream Cheese Frosting
12 oz cream cheese , nearly at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter (4 oz), nearly at room temperature
3 1/2 cups (440g) powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round baking pans well with non-stick baking spray then lightly dust with flour and shake out excess. Wrap cake strips around pan if you have them (for a more level cake). Set pans aside.
In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cloves for 20 seconds, set aside.
Pour brown sugar into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Break up brown sugar with fingertips until no clumps remain. Pour in vegetable oil and applesauce, set mixer with paddle attachment and blend until well combined (I recommend a paddle attachment that constantly scrapes bowl, otherwise stop mixer throughout entire mixing process and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl). Mix in eggs and vanilla. Add in 1/2 of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined, then blend in buttermilk, then add remaining 1/2 of the flour mixture and mix until well combined. Divide mixture evenly among two prepared baking pans. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 28 - 32 minutes. Allow to cool several minutes then run a knife around edges to ensure cake is loose and invert upside down onto a wire rack to cool (this will also help deflate those domes a little if you didn't use cake strips). Cool completely then level tops of cakes as needed. Frost with cream cheese frosting, sprinkle pecans around edges if desired.
For the frosting:
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in powdered sugar and vanilla and mix until well blended (at this point I like to freeze the frosting in 5 minute increments, then mix again with stand mixer, then freeze another 5 and more as needed until it's a stiffer yet creamy consistency).