For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of two 2-by-9-inch round cake pans with shortening. Line with parchment cut to neatly cover the bottom and sides of the pans.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, buttermilk, espresso, vegetable oil and vanilla; mix on medium speed. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans.
Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pans and continue baking until an inserted skewer comes out clean, another 15 minutes. Cool on a rack, unmold and return to the rack to cool completely.
For the buttercream icing: With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg whites and powdered sugar for 5 minutes. Add the butter and vanilla and beat for 10 minutes, until fluffy. (Makes 3 pounds.)
For the caramel icing/crumble: Mix the sugar, buttermilk, shortening, butter and baking soda in a 3- or 4-quart cast-iron Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook to the softball stage (235 to 245 degrees F on a candy thermometer), swirling the pan to keep the ingredients moving.
Remove from the heat and beat with a wooden spoon until creamy and spreadable. Spread on a silicone mat and set aside. When cool, break into a crumble.
To create the striped filling: Put one-third of the vanilla buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a 1/3-inch tip. Put an equivalent amount of raspberry jam into a second piping bag, also fitted with a 1/3-inch tip.
When the cakes are completely cool, pipe a dollop of buttercream into the center of one of the layers. Pipe concentric circles around the first dollop, working outward and alternating between circles of raspberry jam and buttercream¿this will be your bottom layer.
Lightly place the remaining cake layer on top of the 'piped' bottom layer. Use the remaining buttercream to ice the entire cake.
Add the crumbled caramel by patting small handfuls onto the top of the iced cake.
This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. It has not been tested for home use.
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