I made that!

Happy Birthday Abbe!

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake! by brandi on March 6, 2009

This weekend my landlord Abbe is celebrating her birthday and her husband Jim asked me to bake a cake. Of course I couldn’t refuse. He wanted me to recreate a cake he tasted on a recent trip to the south: a Caramel Pecan Cake. I’m not sure if my interpretation was a close match, but I’m certain it’s tasty…

Since I’m a buttercream fan, I like to start there when putting together my cake combinations. I wanted to make a really caramelly frosting (surprise sursprise) and needed a cake that could stand up to that amount of flavor. After some poking around, I found a recipe on Epicurious that called for mixing a caramel syrup and roasted pecans straight into the cake batter. Since I hadn’t done that before I decided to experiment. The first test run sunk like crazy, but after adjusting the amount of batter in the pans it rose beautifully.

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I actually did a decent job of keeping it looking like a cake while assembling the layers, a rare treat for photographing.

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A bunch of toasted pecans thrown on the sides later and I had a cake for Abby!

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And now I’m off to Napa for the weekend! but first – the recipe:

For caramel:

3 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups water

For cake:

1 1/2 cups pecans
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup heavy cream
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

Make caramel:
Bring sugar and 3/4 cup water to a boil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals on side of skillet with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil, without stirring, swirling skillet occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until dark amber. Remove from heat and carefully and slowly whisk in remaining 1 1/2 cup water (mixture will steam vigorously and may stiffen). Return to a boil and stir until caramel has completely dissolved. If necessary, simmer until just syrupy, 1 to 3 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Toast pecans for cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Toast pecans in a 4-sided sheet pan in oven until fragrant and a shade darker, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool and coarsely chop.

Make cake:
Put 2 cups cooled caramel syrup in a bowl and add butter, egg, and cream, whisking well after each addition.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and sugars into a large bowl. Make a well in center, then add caramel mixture and gradually whisk in dry ingredients until smooth. Fold in pecans. Chill, covered, until cold (or 12 to 24 hours for best results).

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Butter two 8″ cake pans.

Divide batter among the pans. Bake until cakes just spring back when lightly pressed, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cakes to room temperature. Remove from pans and frost.

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