Southern Pecan Caramel Cake

Southern Pecan Caramel Cake

Rich, Decadent, and Irresistible



  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped

Caramel Frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. Prepare Batter: In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract.
  3. Combine Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Alternate Mixing: Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the whole milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in chopped pecans.
  5. Bake Cakes: Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  6. Prepare Caramel Frosting: In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Gradually beat in powdered sugar and vanilla extract until smooth and spreadable.
  7. Assemble Cake: Once cakes are completely cooled, spread caramel frosting between layers and over the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with additional pecans if desired.

here are 20 popular questions and their answers about making Southern Pecan Caramel Cake:

  1. Can I use salted butter instead of unsalted butter?
    • Yes, you can use salted butter, but adjust the amount of added salt in the recipe accordingly to avoid over-salting the cake.
  2. Can I use a different type of nuts instead of pecans?
    • Yes, you can substitute pecans with walnuts, almonds, or any other nuts of your choice.
  3. How do I ensure my cakes don’t stick to the pans?
    • Grease the cake pans well with butter or non-stick spray, and then dust with flour. Alternatively, use parchment paper rounds at the bottom of the pans.
  4. Can I make the cake layers ahead of time and freeze them?
    • Yes, you can bake the cake layers ahead of time, let them cool completely, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to a month.
  5. What should I do if my frosting turns out too runny?
    • If the caramel frosting is too runny, you can add more powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency.
  6. How should I store the cake once it’s frosted?
    • Store the frosted cake at room temperature in an airtight container or cake carrier for up to 3 days. If the weather is very warm, consider refrigerating it.
  7. Can I use a different type of frosting instead of caramel?
    • Yes, you can use a classic buttercream frosting, cream cheese frosting, or any other frosting you prefer for this cake.
  8. How do I prevent my pecans from sinking to the bottom of the cake batter?
    • Toss the chopped pecans in a tablespoon of flour before folding them into the batter. This helps to distribute them evenly and prevents sinking.
  9. What’s the best way to chop pecans for this cake?
    • Chop pecans finely with a sharp knife or use a food processor, being careful not to over-process to maintain some texture.
  10. Can I use buttermilk instead of whole milk in the cake batter?
    • Yes, buttermilk can be used instead of whole milk. It adds a slight tanginess and moisture to the cake.
  11. How do I know when the cakes are done baking?
    • Insert a toothpick into the center of the cakes; if it comes out clean or with a few crumbs, the cakes are done.
  12. Can I reduce the amount of sugar in the cake batter?
    • You can reduce the sugar slightly, but keep in mind that it will affect the texture and sweetness of the cake.
  13. What’s the difference between baking powder and baking soda in this recipe?
    • Baking powder helps the cake rise, while baking soda neutralizes acids and helps with browning and texture.
  14. Can I make this cake without eggs?
    • Yes, you can substitute each egg with a flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons water) for a vegan version.
  15. How do I make sure my cakes bake evenly?
    • Rotate the cake pans halfway through baking and ensure they are placed in the center of the oven for even heat distribution.
  16. Can I use store-bought caramel sauce instead of making the frosting from scratch?
    • Yes, you can use store-bought caramel sauce for convenience, but adjust the powdered sugar amount in the frosting accordingly to achieve the right consistency.
  17. How do I achieve a smooth caramel frosting?
    • Beat the frosting thoroughly after adding powdered sugar to ensure it’s smooth. You can also sift the powdered sugar before adding it.
  18. Can I use a different size of cake pans?
    • Yes, you can use different sizes, but adjust the baking time accordingly. Thinner layers will bake faster, while thicker layers will take longer.
  19. Can I make cupcakes instead of a layer cake with this recipe?
    • Yes, you can make cupcakes. Adjust the baking time to around 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  20. How do I garnish the cake with pecans?
    • Arrange whole or halved pecans around the top edge of the cake, or sprinkle chopped pecans on top of the frosting for decoration.

These answers should help you navigate through making a delicious Southern Pecan Caramel Cake with confidence!

Here are 30 secrets to master the recipe for Southern Pecan Caramel Cake:

  1. Use High-Quality Ingredients: Opt for fresh, high-quality ingredients for the best flavor.
  2. Room Temperature Ingredients: Ensure butter, eggs, and milk are at room temperature for proper incorporation.
  3. Properly Cream Butter and Sugar: Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy to incorporate air for a lighter cake texture.
  4. Gradually Add Eggs: Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, to emulsify and aerate the batter.
  5. Alternate Dry and Wet Ingredients: Alternate adding the dry ingredients (flour mixture) and wet ingredients (milk), starting and ending with the dry ingredients, to prevent overmixing.
  6. Fold in Ingredients: Fold in dry ingredients and milk gently to avoid deflating the batter.
  7. Chopped Pecans: Fold in chopped pecans at the end to distribute evenly throughout the batter.
  8. Even Cake Layers: Divide the batter evenly among cake pans for uniform cake layers.
  9. Preheat Oven: Ensure the oven is preheated to 350°F (175°C) before baking for consistent results.
  10. Grease and Flour Cake Pans: Prepare cake pans properly to prevent sticking.
  11. Test for Doneness: Use a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake to check for doneness; it should come out clean.
  12. Cool Cakes Properly: Allow cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
  13. Caramel Frosting Consistency: Achieve the right consistency by cooling the caramel mixture adequately before adding powdered sugar.
  14. Smooth Frosting Application: Spread frosting evenly between layers and on the top and sides of the cake for a polished finish.
  15. Garnish Thoughtfully: Garnish with whole pecans on top if desired, strategically placed for visual appeal.
  16. Storage Tips: Store the cake in an airtight container to keep it fresh.
  17. Room Temperature Serving: Serve at room temperature for the best flavor and texture.
  18. Adjust Sweetness: Adjust sweetness by varying the amount of powdered sugar in the frosting to suit personal taste.
  19. Make Ahead: Prepare components ahead of time, such as frosting, and assemble closer to serving time.
  20. Protect Edges: Use cake strips or aluminum foil around cake pans to prevent over-browning of edges.
  21. Avoid Overmixing: Mix ingredients until just combined to avoid a dense cake texture.
  22. Use Cake Flour: Substitute some all-purpose flour with cake flour for a lighter crumb.
  23. Add Flavor Depth: Enhance flavor with a touch of almond extract alongside vanilla extract.
  24. Even Heating: Rotate cake pans halfway through baking for even heating in the oven.
  25. Keep Frosting Warm: Keep the caramel frosting slightly warm while applying for easier spreading.
  26. Caramel Drizzle: Drizzle extra caramel sauce over the top for added richness and presentation.
  27. Adjust Baking Time: Monitor closely near the end of baking time to prevent over-baking.
  28. Enhance Moisture: Brush cake layers with a simple syrup (sugar dissolved in water) before frosting to lock in moisture.
  29. Presentation Matters: Use a cake turntable for even frosting distribution and a professional finish.
  30. Enjoy Fresh: Serve freshly made or within a day for the best taste and texture.

Following these secrets will help you achieve a perfect Southern Pecan Caramel Cake every time!