Pumpkin-Praline Layer Cake

Adapted from Midwest Living.

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1  cup packed brown sugar
1/2  cup butter or margarine
1/4  cup whipping cream
3/4  cup chopped pecans
2  cups all-purpose flour
2  teaspoons baking powder
2  teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1  teaspoon baking soda
1  teaspoon salt
1-2/3  cups granulated sugar
1  cup cooking oil
4  eggs
2  cups canned pumpkin

Whipped Cream Topping (see recipe below)

In a heavy saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, and whipping cream. Cook over low heat until the brown sugar just dissolves, stirring occasionally. Pour mixture into two 9×1-1/2-inch round baking pans. Sprinkle evenly with the pecans. Let the mixture cool slightly.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Set it aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the granulated sugar, cooking oil, and eggs. Add the pumpkin and dry ingredients alternately to the oil mixture, beating until the mixture is just combined. Stir in the black walnut flavoring, if you like.

Carefully spoon the batter over the pecan/ brown-sugar mixture in the baking pans. Place pans on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpicks inserted in the centers come out clean. Cool the cakes in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. Invert them onto wire racks, replacing any brown-sugar mixture that remains in the pans. Cool before assembling.

Meanwhile, prepare the Whipped Cream Topping.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a serving plate, praline side up. Spread with the topping. Add the second layer, praline side up. Pipe or dollop with the remaining topping. Sprinkle lightly with some additional pie spice, if you like. Makes 12 servings.

Whipped Cream Topping: In a clean mixing bowl, beat 1-3/4 cups whipping cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form (tips curl). Add 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Beat the topping mixture until stiff peaks form (the tips stand straight).

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