Food & Drink Magazine

Salted Caramel Pecan Cake

By Skfsullivan @spectacularlyd

hbx-salted-caramel-cake-mdnPicture #1: Salted Caramel cake as made by House Beautiful food columnist Alex Hitz.

salted caramel cake whole
Picture #2: Salted Caramel Pecan cake as made by Spectacularly Delicious.

Although these two cakes wouldn’t be mistaken for identical twins they do bear more than a passing resemblance looks-wise.

But down in their souls, their very essence, they are one in the same: lightly salty, deeply sweet, creamy caramel caramel cake. One delicious bite will blind you to the homeliness of the home made version.

Follow Alex’s advice: be careful not to overmix the batter or the cake will be tough. Allow plenty of time for the icing to cool, many hours at room temperature, more quickly if refrigerated. It is a simple process though, it employs brown sugar rather than white so no candy thermometer is needed. 

The photo in House Beautiful shows the cake decorated with a few rose petals. My version adds Alex-Hitz-approved chopped pecans in icing layers inside and whole nuts decorating the top.

No question, this cake is worth it.

Recipe and photo from House Beautiful

Cake ingredients: 

9 tablespoons salted butter, cold, plus more for the pans
3¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons plus ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
12 tablespoons salted butter, melted
8 egg yolks
4 eggs
3¾ cups cake flour, plus more for the pans
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup buttermilk
12 whole pecans for garnish up plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour three 9-inch cake pans, put a parchment round in the bottom of each pan, and butter and flour the rounds.

2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium-high speed, beat the cold butter until very light, about 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl down several times while beating, and gradually add the sugar.

3. Add the vanilla and continue beating for 5 more minutes, scraping the bowl down again. The mixture will be very coarse and grainy.

4. Turn the speed to low and add the melted butter, egg yolks, and eggs, beating until they are fully combined. Turn off the mixer.

5. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

6. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and cream, and then turn on the mixer again to the lowest speed. Add half the flour mixture, and then half the buttermilk mixture, and then the remaining flour, and then the remaining buttermilk. Scrape down the bowl as necessary, but make sure not to overmix the batter, or the cake will be tough.

7. Pour the batter into the 3 prepared pans, dividing it equally, and bang each pan on a sturdy surface to release the air bubbles. Put the pans in the oven and bake them for 25 to 30 minutes, until they are brown on top and a toothpick or knife comes out clean.

8. Cool the cakes for 10 minutes, then run the dull edge of a knife around the perimeter of the pans and invert them onto a cold baking sheet or rack. Note: These cakes may be frozen for up to 3 months at this point.

9. When you are ready to ice and assemble the main cake, slice each individual one horizontally in half for a total of 6 layers. Make sure all the layers are cold before you ice them.

Ingredients for Caramel Icing

4 1/2 sticks (36 tablespoons) salted butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons half-and-half
4½ cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
2¼ cups powdered sugar, firmly packed
4 tablespoons vanilla extract
2¼ teaspoons salt
1 cup chopped pecans
12 whole pecans

1. In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter is fully melted, stir in the half-and-half and then the brown sugar.

2. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 8 minutes, until the sugar is melted and the caramel mixture is smooth.

3. Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. I actually stick it in the freezer to cool for about 30 to 40 minutes, because otherwise it could take all day.

4. When it’s cool, transfer the caramel mixture to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and, on medium speed, beat in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt.

5. Ice the cake layers with about 1 cup of icing each, stacking them as you go. Divide the chopped pecans and sprinkle some over each layer.

6. Ice the top and sides of the cake and decorate the top with the whole pecans.

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