Caramel Pecan Layer Cake

My mom is an excellent cook. She’s also an excellent baker. She does both of these things quite a bit, and she rarely has either of these things done for her.

Her birthday was Tuesday. I forgot to call her.

I’m not exactly paralyzed with guilt though, because we celebrated her birthday all last weekend. Marlo and I drove to Ohio and my sister flew in from New York. We took her to one of Findlay’s finest restaurants, the Bistro on Main, and the next day I baked her this cake. See? I remembered in advance. I’m excused, right?

I found this recipe in her More From Magnolia cookbook and realized I could make this from scratch without having to run to the store for an odd ingredient. This is how I make most of my decisions. While my mother seems to enjoy making multiple trips to the grocery store in one day, I loathe having to make more than two trips in one week. Having a one year old may have something to do with this.

Regardless, this cake was easy and absolutely wonderful. If I could rename it, I would call it Caramel Corn Cake, because it couldn’t possibly taste any more similar to caramel popcorn.

I made a few changes to the original recipe, both unintentionally. The original recipe called (very indiscreetly) for 3 cake layers. While reading through, I overlooked this and only baked two layers. Obviously, the layers were thicker and I had to bake a bit longer. This was not a problem; the cake did not overflow nor did it burn. Everything was fine. Also, I didn’t have self-rising flour so I used the conversion found on this page and again, the cake was perfect.

Caramel Pecan Layer Cake
Adapted from More from Magnolia by Allysa Torey

For the Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (see note above)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups of sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

For the Icing
(The book says to make this a day ahead of time so the brown sugar blends better and the texture isn’t grainy. I didn’t do this and I didn’t notice a grainy texture.)

2 cups unsalted butter, softened
5 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. dark corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 inch round cake pans and line bottom with parchment paper.

Spread pecans on baking sheet and toast in oven 10-15 minutes, until fragrant.

Meanwhile, begin preparing the cake batter. In a small bowl, whisk together the flours and set aside. In bowl of stand mixer, add butter and beat until light and fluffy. Slowly add sugar and beat for 3 more minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each additions. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

When the layers have cooled completely, ice the cake by filling between the layers first with Caramel Frosting and then sprinkling with half of the pecans. Then ice the top and sides, and sprinkle the top with the remaining pecans.

To make the icing, in a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Add the milk, syrup, and vanilla, and beat until smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes. Use immediately or store, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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