Butter Pecan Cake Recipe

Butter Pecan Cake Recipe


For the Cake:

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter
  • 3 cups (333g) cake flour
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (200g) light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups (354ml) buttermilk, room temperature preferred
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups (160g) pecan halves, very finely chopped

For the Icing:

  • 1 ½ cups (340g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ⅓ cup (66g) light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ½ cups (562g) powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup (35g) pecan halves, very finely chopped, optional


Brown the Butter:

  1. Melt the butter over medium-low heat, then increase heat and cook until golden brown specks form. Allow it to cool completely.

Prepare the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and line three 8-inch round baking pans.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Add the browned butter to the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Gradually add this mixture to the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  5. Stir in the finely chopped pecans.
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared baking pans.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans.

Make the Icing:

  1. Beat the softened butter, cream cheese, light brown sugar, vanilla extract, and salt together until smooth and creamy.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar and heavy cream, beating until the icing is fluffy and well combined.

Assemble the Cake:

  1. If necessary, level the tops of the cakes with a knife.
  2. Place one cake layer on a serving plate and spread a layer of icing on top.
  3. Repeat with the second layer and top with the third layer.
  4. Frost the outside of the cake with the remaining icing.
  5. Decorate with finely chopped pecans and piped frosting swirls if desired.

Additional Information:

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cooking Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Calories: 975 per serving
  • Servings: 12 servings

Achieving the perfect Butter Pecan Cake involves careful attention to detail and a few helpful secrets. Here are the steps and tips to ensure your cake turns out moist, flavorful, and beautiful:

Secrets to Achieve the Perfect Butter Pecan Cake

  1. Use High-Quality Ingredients:
    • Opt for fresh, high-quality butter, cream cheese, and pecans for the best flavor.
  2. Properly Brown the Butter:
    • To brown butter, melt it over medium heat, then continue cooking while stirring until it turns a golden brown color with a nutty aroma. This adds depth to the cake’s flavor.
  3. Room Temperature Ingredients:
    • Ensure all your ingredients, especially butter, eggs, and buttermilk, are at room temperature. This helps them blend more smoothly and evenly.
  4. Measure Flour Correctly:
    • Spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with a knife. Avoid packing it down, which can result in a dense cake.
  5. Sift Dry Ingredients:
    • Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together to ensure a light and airy texture.
  6. Cream Butter and Sugars Well:
    • Beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, usually for about 3-5 minutes. This incorporates air into the batter for a lighter cake.
  7. Don’t Overmix the Batter:
    • When adding the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, mix until just combined to avoid overworking the gluten in the flour.
  8. Fold in Pecans Gently:
    • When adding the finely chopped pecans, fold them in gently with a spatula to maintain the airiness of the batter.
  9. Evenly Divide Batter:
    • Use a kitchen scale to divide the batter evenly among the cake pans. This ensures each layer bakes uniformly.
  10. Preheat Oven and Use Proper Rack Position:
  • Preheat your oven and bake the cakes on the middle rack to ensure even baking.
  1. Check for Doneness:
  • Use a toothpick to check if the cakes are done. It should come out clean or with a few crumbs attached.
  1. Cool Cakes Properly:
  • Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. This prevents them from breaking apart.
  1. Make Frosting Smooth:
  • Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth before adding the powdered sugar. This prevents lumps in your frosting.
  1. Adjust Frosting Consistency:
  • If the frosting is too thick, add a bit more cream. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar.
  1. Chill the Frosting:
  • Chill the frosting slightly if it’s too soft to spread easily. This makes it easier to work with.
  1. Level Cake Layers:
  • Use a serrated knife or cake leveler to level the tops of the cake layers before frosting.
  1. Apply a Crumb Coat:
  • Apply a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) and chill the cake for 15 minutes before applying the final coat. This helps seal in crumbs and provides a smooth finish.
  1. Decorate with Pecans:
  • Press finely chopped pecans into the sides of the frosted cake and top with whole pecans for a beautiful presentation.
  1. Store Properly:
  • Store the cake in an airtight container to keep it moist. If storing for more than a day, refrigerate it.
  1. Serve at Room Temperature:
  • For the best flavor and texture, serve the cake at room temperature.

Most Popular Questions and Answers Related to Butter Pecan Cake:

1. Can I use store-bought pecans instead of chopping them myself?

  • Yes, you can use store-bought finely chopped pecans to save time.

2. Can I substitute buttermilk with regular milk?

  • For best results, use buttermilk. If unavailable, make a substitute by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.

3. How do I prevent my cake layers from sticking to the pan?

  • Grease the pans thoroughly and line the bottom with parchment paper for easy removal.

4. Can I make this cake ahead of time?

  • Yes, you can bake the cake layers a day ahead. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

5. How should I store the frosted cake?

  • Store the frosted cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow it to come to room temperature before serving.

6. Can I freeze the cake layers?

  • Yes, wrap the cooled cake layers in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before frosting.

7. Can I add more pecans to the cake batter?

  • You can add up to ½ cup more pecans if you prefer a nuttier cake.

8. What can I use instead of cream cheese in the frosting?

  • Mascarpone cheese can be used as a substitute for cream cheese in the frosting.

9. Can I use salted butter instead of unsalted?

  • If using salted butter, reduce the added salt in the recipe by half.

10. How can I ensure my butter is properly browned?

  • Melt butter over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it turns a golden brown color with brown specks. Watch carefully to avoid burning.

11. What type of vanilla extract should I use?

  • Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.

12. Can I use a different type of sugar for the icing?

  • Stick to powdered sugar for the icing to ensure a smooth texture.

13. How do I know when the cakes are done baking?

  • Insert a toothpick into the center; if it comes out clean or with a few crumbs, the cake is done.

14. Can I use a hand mixer instead of a stand mixer?

  • Yes, a hand mixer can be used, but it may take a bit longer to achieve the desired consistency.

15. Is it necessary to cool the browned butter completely?

  • Yes, cooling the browned butter completely ensures it mixes properly with the other ingredients.

16. What if my frosting is too thick?

  • Add a little more heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

17. Can I use this recipe for cupcakes?

  • Yes, you can use this batter to make cupcakes. Adjust the baking time to 18-20 minutes.

18. How do I make sure my cake layers are even?

  • Use a kitchen scale to ensure equal amounts of batter in each pan.

19. Can I add a fruit filling between the layers?

  • Yes, a layer of fruit preserves or pie filling can be added between the cake layers.

20. What should I do if my cake is dry?

  • Ensure you measure ingredients accurately and do not overbake. Adding a simple syrup soak can help moisten the cake.