While I’m all about pies for Thanksgiving, the Christmas season always screams “CAKE!!!” to me. Not sure why, probably some unexplored childhood thing lying deep in my subconscious; whatever it is, it bothers no one, myself included, so I’ll likely keep baking cakes every December.
Much of the time the month of December is harried and I want simple cakes that can be thrown together quickly and still taste amazing (such a cake coming to you tomorrow!). But the holiday season does deserve at least one real show-stopper of a cake, doesn’t it? Obviously I think so.
Here we have pecan pie being transformed into a very tall, generously frosted layer cake here. Let me warn/tell you, this baby is RICH! Like, I only ate three bites at a time, rich. Like, make sure there are at least twenty teeth brushings between your last bite of this cake and your next dentist’s appointment. This is most definitely a once-a-year-only cake, but for that one time a year, it is so worth it.
It tastes just as advertised – all the flavors and textures of pecan pie, but it’s clearly cake! Extremely delicious and festive, and totally worth the effort. Your family and guests will think so anyways. Enjoy!
Source: Taste of the South Special Collector’s Issue: Southern Christmas, December 2015
1 ½ cups toasted pecans, finely chopped
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk
1 tbs vanilla extract
Coarsely chopped pecans for garnish
PECAN PIE FILLING:
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup dark corn syrup (you can substitute 1/3 cup light corn syrup and 1/3 cup sorghum syrup)
5 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract
BROWN SUGAR FROSTING:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup water
½ tsp salt
2 cups unsalted butter, softened and divided
7 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 to 3 tbs whole milk, as needed
First make the CAKE: preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, then spray the parchment with cooking spray. Sprinkle ½ cup chopped pecans in each prepared pan.
In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape the side of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating until just combined after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Divided batter evenly among the prepared cake pans, smoothing the tops.
Bake until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pans completely.
Meanwhile, make the PECAN PIE FILLING: in a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, eggs, pecans, and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before using.
Now make the BROWN SUGAR FROSTING: in a small saucepan, bring brown sugar, 1/3 cup water, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, approximately 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in ½ cup butter until it melts. Let cool completely.
In a large bowl, beat cooled brown sugar mixture and remaining 1 ½ cups softened butter at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. With mixer on low speed, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until combined. If needed, add milk, 1 tbs at a time, until the frosting is spreadable consistency. I didn’t need any milk.
Assemble the cake: place one cake on a cake plate and spread half the Pecan Pie Filling on top. Top with a second layer of cake, then spread the remaining half of the Pecan Pie Filling on top. Place the third cake on top, and then frost the entire top and sides of the cake with the Brown Sugar Frosting. Sprinkle the top of the frosted cake with the chopped pecans for garnish, if desired.