A delightfully nutty cake topped with vanilla-rum frosting, this dessert feels at once humble and downright celebratory. The dense cake, made with a standard buttermilk batter that gets its deep hue from over a cup of ground pecans, slices beautifully, and the finished product is an ideal pairing with a cup of strong coffee, a big glass of milk or even, in deep winter, a spicy hot toddy. Try our Pecan Cake in place of a traditional pie for Thanksgiving or a fall or winter potluck—and don’t be surprised if friends and family ask you to make it again.
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
1¼ cups pecans
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
¾ cup buttermilk
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon dark rum
½ teaspoon baking soda
Calories from fat 48%
How to Make It
Heat oven to 350° F.
Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
In a food processor, finely grind 1 cup of the pecans. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and pulse to combine; set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat 1 stick of the butter with the brown and granulated sugars until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Gradually add the pecan mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Stir in the buttermilk and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining butter with the confectioners’ sugar and cream until fluffy. Beat in the rum and the remaining vanilla. Spread on cake. Chop the remaining pecans and sprinkle on top.