1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable cooking spray, then line bottoms with parchment paper (cut a circle of paper to fit the bottom of each pan).
2. Prepare the torte. In a medium bowl combine bread crumbs, baking powder, and pecans.
3. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on high to whip egg whites and salt to stiff peaks, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer on high to whisk the egg yolks until thick and pale yellow, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Increase speed to high and mix until very thick, about 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold 1/3 of the whites into yolk mixture until just combined. Fold in remaining egg whites until no traces of white remain. Add pecan mixture to egg mixture in three batches, carefully folding together until well combined.
5. Divide batter evenly between pans, lightly smoothing the tops. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then place on cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
6. Prepare the frosting. In a medium saucepan combine brown sugar, 1/2 cup of the butter, and cream. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Bring to a boil without stirring and cook until mixture reaches a consistency where a small bit dropped in some ice water does not dissolve - 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, beat on high speed until mixture is cool to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup butter and mix until combined. Frosting should be light and fluffy.
7. To assemble, place one cake layer on a serving plate and top with half the frosting. Top with remaining layer and frost the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, if desired. Serve at room temperature.
Fresh Magazine, November - December 2009