Pecan Cream Cake

This recipe is slightly adapted from the one featured in the November '13 issue of SAVEUR Magazine. A real Southern gem. The taste of the toasted pecans on top really comes through. 

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (I used canola oil)
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup finely chopped pecans
(extra flour and butter for the pans)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons  unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Heat oven at 350°. Butter and flour three 8" cake pans.
Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Whisk buttermilk and vanilla in another bowl.
Cream butter, shortening and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
On low speed, alternate dry ingredients in 3 batches and wet ingredients in 2 batches. Increase speed to high and beat until batter is smooth, 5 to 10 seconds.
Whip egg whites in a bowl until stiff peaks form.
Fold egg whites, coconut and pecans into batter. Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Drop pans lightly on counter to expel large air bubbles.
Bake cakes until a tooth pick inserted in middle comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes.
Let cakes cool for 20 minutes in pans. Invert onto wire racks and let cool completely.
To make the frosting, use a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. While beating, add sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
To assemble, place one cake layer on a cake stand and spread 1/3 cup frosting; top with another layer and spread with 1/3 cup frosting. Top with remaining layer. Cover top and sides with remaining frosting and sprinkle top with toasted pecans. Chill for at least one hour.


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