This is another of the favorite cakes that my father made. It's spicy, the prunes are rich and moist and just a bit chewy, the toasted walnuts add crunch and flavor, and the cake itself is very moist and buttery. After the cake was iced with the buttercream he would grate a bit of nutmeg over the top. The light sprinkling really added to the overall flavor, plus giving the cake a lovely finish.
Line two 8" cake pans with parchment and preheat your oven to 325℉ for convection and 350℉ for standard.
Place the granulated sugar and the room temperature butter in the bowl of your mixer and use the paddle attachment to beat until it is light and fluffy. Add the room temperature eggs yolks, one at a time, completely absorbing each before adding the next. Next, add the brown sugar and orange zest and turn the mixer on to high speed and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is light and airy.
Add the room temperature cream and vanilla extract. Mix at medium speed until completely combined, then switch to high and beat another minute or two. You want this mixture to be very light and airy.
Use a fine mesh strainer or sifter and sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Scoop the flour into the cake batter along with the chopped prunes and walnuts and mix at low speed for about 30 second. Stop and scrape the sides and bottom with a spatula and mix another 30 seconds.
NOTE...if the prunes are very dry soak them in 1/2 cup of hot water for 30 minutes. Drain off the water prior to adding the reconstituted prunes to the cake batter.
Pour the cake batter into a large shallow rimmed bowl. Wash and dry your mixer bowl. Add the egg whites, and using the whisk attachment beat at high speed until the whites start to foam. With the mixer still on high speed, start adding the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, a tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat until the whites hold firm peaks.
Scoop 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the cake batter and stir to lighten the batter. Add another 1/3 and gently fold into the batter, and follow that with the final 1/3. The process of folding the beaten whites into the cake batter should be as gentle as possible to avoid loosing the volume created by the meringue. Don't worry if there are a few tiny bits of white that aren't completely absorbed into the batter. These should disappear during the baking.
Scoop the batter equally between the two prepared cake pans. Bake on the center rack of your preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Cake is done when it is a light golden brown and springs back when the center is gently pressed with your finger.
Place the cake pans on a cooling rack. Wait about 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and gently dump the cakes onto the rack to cool. Wait until the cake is completely cooled before frosting.
Make the Italian Buttercream frosting as directed. When you are adding the butter, also add the orange zest. After frosting the entire cake, use a nutmeg grater to grate nutmeg lightly over the top of the cake as shown in the photo.
Serving Size 1 slice
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