Prepare streusel: Combine brown sugar, pecans, flour and butter in a medium bowl; stir until well mixed. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease one classic 12-cup Bundt pan with shortening; coat lightly with cornmeal mix and shake off excess.
Combine 1-1/2 cups cornmeal mix, 2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 cup brown sugar; whisk well.
Combine sour cream, eggs, butter and vanilla in a separate bowl; whisk until smooth. Stir in pineapple. Add to cornmeal mixture; stir until dry ingredients are just moistened.
Spoon about half of batter into prepared Bundt pan. Smooth top; sprinkle evenly with 3/4 cup of the streusel. Repeat with remaining batter and streusel. Bake 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean; transfer to a wire rack. Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes; turn out onto a cake server. Allow to cool completely; dust well with confectioners sugar.
When ready to serve, prepare whipped cream. Combine cream, confectioners sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl; beat with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.
Slice cake into wedges; place each wedge on a dessert plate. Drizzle wedges with caramel topping; dollop with whipped cream. Garnish cream with mint leaves if desired. Yield: 24 servings.
Why this recipe represents holiday and tradition:
I began baking long ago with my Southern Great-Grandmother, who used cornmeal and pecan streusel in a variety of baked goods. This cake, baked in one of her beloved Bundt pans, includes some of the flavors and textures we always enjoyed, and deliciously represents our heritage and traditions.