3cupscake flour, or all-purpose flour,spooned and leveled
1tspcoarse Kosher salt(if using table salt, use half the amount)
2 ¾tspbaking powder
1tspfreshly grated nutmeg
1 ⅓cupseggnog,room temperature
⅔cupfull-fat sour cream
2cupsunsalted butter,softened to room temperature
¼tspfreshly grated nutmeg
¼ - ⅓cupeggnog
2tspvanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 F, and spray the bottoms of three 8-inch cake pans with non-stick spray.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed for 10 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating each for 10 seconds before adding the next. Scrape the bowl down, add the vanilla bean paste, and beat for 10 more seconds.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves.
With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the eggnog and sour cream, starting and ending with the flour. Use a spatula to scrape the bowl well and incorporate any stray bits of flour.
Divide the batter between the pans. Bake on the center oven rack for about 25-30 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
Set the pans on a wire rack, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel, and cool completely before frosting.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute until smooth.
With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar, meringue powder and nutmeg, and mix until combined.
Add the eggnog and vanilla, increase the speed to medium high and whip for 4-5 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally, until very light and fluffy.
Remove the cooled cakes from the pans. Fill, stack and frost the cake with the buttercream.
CHRISTMAS TREETo pipe the Christmas tree, fit a piping bag with tip #1M, and fill with buttercream. Start at the bottom of the cake, piping swoops upwards to create the branches of the tree. Pipe the bottom row first, then the next row, working your way up the side of the cake. The top branch of the tree should be the last branch you pipe.Before the buttercream crusts over, decorate with sprinkle "ornaments".
STARFor the star, spread a small amount of buttercream onto a piece of wax paper. The buttercream should be about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with sparkling sugar, and press it gently into the buttercream.Freeze the buttercream on the wax paper for about 10 minutes, until firm.Use a mini star cutter to cut a star from the frozen buttercream. If you don't have a star cutter, you can just use a knife. Carefully lift the frozen star off the paper, and place on your cake to top the Christmas tree.
Leftover cake should be stored in an airtight container or cake carrier for up to 3 days. The assembled and frosted cake can also be frozen for several months.