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Pumpkin Showdown: Pumpkin Layer Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

(get the rest of the recipe after the jump.)

Cake batter:
6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, plus 2 Tablespoons to grease the pans
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; plus 4 Tablespoons for the pans
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoons New Mexico chili powder
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3-cup buttermilk

Topping: (cut recipe in half if not using on the sides)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1-1/3 cups raw pecans
1/2 cup raw, hulled pepitas
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
4 Tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2-teaspoon fine sea salt
3 Tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped

Frosting:
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 oz. (1-1/4 cups) confectioners' sugar

Prepare pumpkin purée:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with the oil. Place the pumpkin halves on the sheet cut side down. Bake until tender when pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Cool. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon and purée in a blender or food processor until smooth. Reserve 1-1/2 cups of the purée for the cake. (remaining purée can be refrigerated or frozen)

Prepare cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans,line the bottoms with parchment, butter the parchment, then flour each pan.
Melt 6 oz. butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan
occasionally until the butter turns golden-brown and has a nutty scent. Pour
the butter into a small bowl or measuring cup and allow to cool but not set,
about 15 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon,
ginger, salt, and chili powder and mix well. In a large bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups
of the pumpkin purée with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and
buttermilk- blend well. Using a rubber spatula, stir the flour mixture into the
pumpkin mixture until just combined. Slowly pour in the brown butter and whisk
until completely incorporated into the mixture. Evenly divide the batter
between the prepared cake pans. Bake the cakes until a tester inserted in the
center comes out completely clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cakes in the pan for
10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto cooling rack, remove the parchment, and
cool completely.

Prepare topping:
Melt butter in a heavy 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium
heat. Add the pecans, pepitas and sunflower seeds and cook until the pecans are
slightly brown and the pepitas begin to pop. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and
salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed. Stir in the crystallized ginger. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool in the skillet.

Prepare frosting:
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns golden-brown and has a nutty scent. Pour into a small bowl or measuring cup and let stand until the browned solids settle at the bottom of the bowl. Place the butter in the freezer and chill until just firm but not totally solid, 15-20 minutes. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl or cup, leaving the browned solids at the bottom; discard the solids. Use a stand mixer or a hand held electric
mixer on medium speed to beat the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar until
light in color and the brown sugar dissolves. Slowly add the confectioners'
sugar and continue beating until frosting is fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

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Layer and frost:

Place one 9 -inch layer on a serving plate. Place 1/2 cup of the frosting on top of cake layer and spread to the edge with a small off set spatula. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the nut mixture over the frosting, press down slightly, and top with the second 9-inch cake. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Arrange the remaining topping in a circle leaving a 1- inch border in from the edge clear of topping. Press the remaining topping around the sides of the cake.

Do ahead tips
Make the purée 1 or 2 days ahead.
The finished cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

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