Spice Layer Cake with Cardamom-Coffee Icing

Makes two 8-inch layer cakes.

2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350°,  butter and flour 2-8-inch cake pans
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, pepper and cardamom. Mix thoroughly with a whisk. In a standing mixer beat the butter until light. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy and well mixed.
Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well, about 5 minutes, scraping the sides down with a spatula. Beat in the flour mixture alternatively with the buttermilk and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until smooth about 1 minute.
Divide the batter equally into two 8-inch buttered and floured cake pans.

Bake in a preheated 350° oven for about 30 minutes or until the surface springs back when gently touched with your fingers. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on wire racks about 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and continue cooling.

Cardamom-Coffee Icing
3 ounces milk
1 ½ tablespoon instant coffee or espresso (I use Medaglia D’Oro brand)
1 ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 3 sticks butter (24 tablespoons)
2 ¼ cups confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
Warm the milk and dissolve the instant coffee or espresso in it and let it cool to room temperature. In a stand mixer beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the cardamom, vanilla and sugar and mix well. Add the coffee mixture and continue to beat until fluffy. Spread a little of the icing over the bottom layer. Cover with the second layer and spread the remaining icing over the top and the sides. Because of the butter in the frosting, the cake is best refrigerated once cut and after the first day. Remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.