FOR FROSTING: 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons almond extract
FOR BERRY SAUCE: 6 cups (1½ pounds) frozen mixed berries: blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, raspberries, huckleberries, etc.
1½ cups pinot noir
¾ cup sugar
½ cup orange juice
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons honey
To prep the cake: Butter and flour three 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
To make the cake: Sift the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, ginger, and pepper together in a medium bowl; set aside.
In a mixer bowl, with the mixer on high speed, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and egg yolks, beating until creamy. Add the vanilla extract. On low speed, alternatively blend in the dry ingredients and buttermilk in small batches, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
Divide the batter between the three prepared pans and top the pans to settle the batter. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. All ovens are different, so I start checking at 35 to 40 minutes.
To make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer. Add the butter. Add the powdered sugar. Add the almond extract. Beat until smooth.
To assemble: Divide the frosting between the layers of spice cake and on top. Leave the side of the cake naked or cover it completely. Decorate with flowers, moss, berries, and greenery.
To make the berry sauce: In a saucepan, combine the berries, pinot noir, sugar, orange juice, and vanilla bean with scrapings. (If using vanilla extract, add it later.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the honey; let cool. Remove the vanilla bean, if using, or stir in the vanilla extract.
To serve: Slice the cake and serve alongside the berry sauce.
Tips: The frosting can be made a day in advance and will keep in the refrigerator. The cake layers can be baked a day in advance and wrapped tightly, once cooled. The berry sauce can be made a day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator. The assembled cake will keep for a couple of days.