Faulknerian Family Spice Cake with Caramel Icing

"Being from the South, I come from a rather, ah … kooky family in which relationships are tangled but the food is straightforward and good. This is my mother's spice cake. I fashioned a pumpkin version of sorts for the food section at the Chicago Tribune when I worked there, but Mother's original is superior: murky and dark and complex underneath, but with a crazy sweet caramel icing on top. Just like the South."

-ENunn, submitted on Food52

Faulknerian Family Spice Cake with Caramel Icing

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    1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened 1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup shortening (yes, shortening) 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    3 cups sugar 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
    5 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla
    3 cups flour 1/2 cup unsalted butter, for icing
    2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 cup packed brown sugar, for icing
    1/2 teaspoon mace (don't leave this out) 1/3 cup heavy cream, for icing
    1/2 teaspoon allspice 2 cups confectioners' sugar, for icing
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1 teaspoon vanilla, for icing
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves


    Prep: 15 min Total: More than 60 min
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    • 1

      Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease and flour a tube pan.

    • 2

      Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Sift together the dry ingredients twice. Add the dry mixture to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk, in three additions. Add the vanilla and beat for another 10 seconds.

    • 3

      Pour the batter into the tube pan and bake for 75 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then turn the cake out of the pan and let it cool completely on the rack.

    • 4

      While the cake is baking, make the icing: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the brown sugar and cream. Remove from heat and stir until completely smooth. Return to heat and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Let the mixture cool. Using a whisk, beat in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. (The icing will be lumpy at first but will smooth out toward the end.) When the cake is cool, spread the icing over the top and sides and serve.

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