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Three-Layer Apple Cake

Ingredients:

For the buttercream:
4 large egg whites
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces

For the cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pans
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, two coarsely grated and two diced

Directions:

Step 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8-inch-round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter, then flour paper and sides (tapping out excess); set aside.

Step 2
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, and eggs until well combined; fold in grated and diced apples. Add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Divide batter among prepared pans; smooth tops.

Step 3
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 20 minutes, then invert onto wire racks; peel off parchment. Invert cakes again, and let cool completely on racks.

Step 4
Make buttercream: In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt until sugar has dissolved; remove from heat. Using an electric mixer on medium, beat mixture until fluffy and cooled, about 15 minutes. Increase to high; beat until stiff peaks form. Reduce to medium-low; gradually add butter, beating until fully incorporated, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 5
Assemble cake: Place one layer on a serving plate; spread top with buttercream. Top with another layer; spread top with buttercream. Top with third layer; spread remaining buttercream over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 4 days). To serve, bring cake to room temperature; slice with a serrated knife.

Cook's Notes
You can also bake the cake in a 13-by-9-inch pan; the baking time will be about the same. Also, if the buttercream separates, continue beating -- it will come together.

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