¼ cup pecan pieces or halves, lightly toasted if you wish
Cider Caramel Sauce
4 cups unfiltered apple cider
½ cup Calvados, applejack, brandy, or bourbon
⅓ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground mace
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1½ cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Use fingertips or a dry pastry brush to thoroughly grease the inside of a 10-inch light metal tube pan or 12-cup Bundt pan with the shortening. Dust with flour and tap out any excess. (Note: The Bundt pan makes a pretty fluted cake, but the pan’s heavy metal finish makes a thicker, chewier, and darker cake crust than will a light aluminum tube pan. Using a Bundt pan might also increase baking time by 5 to 8 minutes.)
In small saucepan, simmer the cider until it reduces to 1 cup, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, mace, and cardamom into a medium bowl.
Beat the butter until creamy in a large bowl with an electric mixer set to high speed. With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Quickly beat in the vanilla.
Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with half the cider, beating after each addition only until the batter is smooth.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any trapped air bubbles. Bake in the center of the oven until a tester or wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean with a few moist, clinging crumbs, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Turn out the cake and let cool to room temperature.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until smooth and bubbling. Add the cream in a slow, steady stream, stirring continuously. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and comes just to a boil, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Stir in enough confectioners’ sugar to make a stiff glaze that resembles icing. Spoon the glaze over the cooled cake, letting it run down the sides. Sprinkle with pecans and let sit for a few minutes while the glaze sets.
Bring the cider, Calvados, brown sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, cinnamon, mace, and cardamom to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. (Don’t worry if lemon juice makes the mixture look curdled at first, just keep stirring.) Let cook at a low boil for 10 minutes.
Stir in the cream and continue cooking until the mixture reduces to 1½ cups, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla. Serve warm. (Make-ahead note: Cool, cover, and refrigerate sauce in a glass jar for up to two weeks. Reheat gently before serving.)
Serve slices of cake with a little warm cider caramel sauce.