The ginger flavour of this cake comes from both ground ginger and stem ginger, so there is a strong ginger undercurrent, and as a bonus you occasionally get a burst from a chunk of stem ginger. The pecans and salted caramel complement it perfectly – you will definitely want to go back for seconds.
Preheat the oven to 180°C [350°F/Gas mark 4]. Grease 3 x 18-cm [7-in] cake tins and line the bases with baking paper.
For the cake, heat the butter, salt, muscovado sugar and treacle in a small pan over a low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter has melted and combined.
Combine the flour and ground spices in a separate bowl.
Heat the milk in a small bowl in the microwave for a minute until warm. Set aside.
Pour the liquid sugar and butter mixture over the flour mixture, then stir quickly until smooth and combined. Add the chopped ginger, then the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Add the bicarbonate of soda to the reserved warm milk and mix until foamy. Pour this into the main mixture and mix with a balloon whisk until smooth and just combined. Immediately pour the mixture evenly between the prepared cake tins and bake for 25–35 minutes until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, make the salted caramel. Heat the water and sugar in a saucepan over a low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and wait (don’t stir) until the sugar turns an amber colour. You can swill the pan around to even out the colour.
When the sugar syrup has turned a deep amber colour, remove the pan from the heat, add the cream in one go and stir constantly with a balloon whisk. The caramel will bubble up, so be careful at this stage! Return the pan to the stove over a low heat and continue stirring until all the sugar has dissolved and you have a smooth and creamy caramel. Pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle with a little salt to taste. Don’t add too much; it’s better to add too little than too much. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 30–45 minutes. It will thicken
as it cools.
When the cakes are baked, leave them to cool in their tins for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and turn them out onto racks. Peel off the baking paper and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting (see below), then transfer to a large piping [pastry] bag and cut a large tip.
Make sure the cakes and caramel are cool before assembling. Stack the cakes using the guide below. In between each cake layer, pipe the frosting, drizzle the caramel and sprinkle with a third of the pecans. Continue until you have 2 layers of frosting and caramel, and have placed the third cake layer on top. Pipe the frosting on top of the cake and smooth with a palette knife. Cover the sides with more frosting, or leave them naked, depending on how you are planning to decorate this cake. Chill in the fridge, or freezer if you’re in a rush. Then it’s time to decorate!