Caramel-Filled Butter Pecan Cake

Originally published in the December 1988 issue of Southern Living, I have been making this cake for over 10 years (one a year) and have added some detail to the recipe. This is easier if you break the time into pieces and take your time in making it. It will always come out delicious, but often the aesthetics will be off. It’s hard to get this cake exactly right.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup, shortening
  • 2 cups, sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups of cake flour
  • 2.5 teaspoons, baking powder
  • 0.5 teaspoons, salt
  • 1 cup, whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon, almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon, vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • a few pecan halves

Caramel Filling

  • 3 cups, sugar
  • 0.75 cups, whole milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • pinch of salt
  • 0.5 cup, butter

Buttercream Frosting

  • 0.33 cups, butter
  • 3 cups, powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons, whole milk
  • 0.5 teaspoons, vanilla extract

Equipment

  • 3 cake pans, 9″
  • 1 electric mixer
  • cooling racks
  • parchment paper
  • wooden toothpicks
  • large sauce pan
  • candy thermometer
  • cake stand
  • measuring cups
  • scissors
  • mixing bowl

Recipe

Baking Cake Layers

  1. Cream shortening in electric mixer, then gradually add 2 cups of sugar at medium speed.
  2. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Gradually mix in 3 cups of cake flour, 2.5 teaspoons of baking powder and 0.5 teaspoons of salt, adding 1 cup of milk as needed to keep it liquid.
  4. Add in almond and vanilla extracts.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Grease three 9″ cake pans with shortening (or butter, if you prefer) and line with parchment paper, grease wax paper and cut extra paper off with scissors.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees for 22-25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick stick comes out clean after poking it into the center of the cake layers.
  9. Remove from oven and cool in pans for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove cake layers from cake pans and let cool on wire racks.

Caramel Filling

  1. Combine 3 cups of sugar, 0.75 cups of whole milk, a beaten egg, and 0.5 cup of butter in a large saucepan. (Optional: a few oz. of corn syrup can make it creamier with a smoother texture).
  2. Cook on medium-low heat (lower is better!) until the mixture reaches the temperature of 230 degrees, (roughly 20 minutes).
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Beat with a wooden spoon until spreading consistency.
  5. Put first layer of cake on a cake stand, spread caramel evenly on top of layer until it is a quarter inch thick. Add next layer and spread caramel two more times. If the caramel gets hard, bring back to the stove and heat to soften again.

Buttercream Filling

  1. Cream butter at maximum speed of the electric mixer.
  2. Gradually add in 3 cups of powdered sugar and 0.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
  3. Add in milk until the consistency is right for frosting.
  4. Spread frosting around the outside of the layered cake.
  5. Press chopped pecans into frosting on sides.
  6. Garnish top of the cake with five pecan halves in the center and (optionally) a ring of them around the rim.

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