This is a recipe for pecan cake topped with caramel sauce. This cake has a coarser texture than pound cake and has a buttery mix of pecans and brown sugar layered into the batter. The cake does not bake as tall as a pound cake but instead will be shorter, like coffee cake.
I love the time of year when fresh pecans are harvested. Although you can buy pecans at grocery stores, they are not always as flavorful as fresh pecans. I have found that small businesses (like produce stands) usually have fresher pecans since they buy in smaller quantities and sell them quicker than larger stores.
When you buy fresh pecans, one way to keep them from losing their flavor is to store them sealed in the freezer. They will keep for a year (or more) frozen. You can also help prolong their fresh taste by storing them in the refrigerator, where they will keep for months. If you have pecans (or other nuts) stored in a cabinet, always taste them before using them in a recipe. Because they have a lot of oil in them, nuts can become rancid in warm temperatures and if left out and exposed to light. Also, it is wise to taste more than one nut in an older bag because they don’t all become rancid at the same time.
Use Room Temperature Ingredients
This recipe has eggs, butter, and sour cream in it. Make sure these ingredients are at room temperature before using them for the best results with this recipe.
How to Quickly Bring Eggs to Room Temperature
Place eggs in a bowl of warm water (not hot, or you might cook them) for 10 minutes. If you just need egg whites or yolks, it is better to separate the eggs while they are cold because room temperature yolks break easily. Place separated eggs into a sturdy flat-bottomed bowl like a ramekin. Set the ramekin in a deep pan and pour hot water around it. The water will heat the ramekin and eggs inside it. However, if you are only using one or two eggs, just let them sit out while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Separated eggs come to room temperature quicker than whole eggs.
After you make the cake batter, pour half of it into the prepared cake pan. Sprinkle half of the prepared pecans over the batter. Then pour the rest of the cake batter over this and sprinkle the rest of the pecans on top.
You can make the caramel sauce while the cake bakes. Once the cake is baked and has cooled, sprinkle a little powdered sugar over the top. You can stop here and have a pretty cake if you do not want the caramel sauce. However, the caramel sauce is what makes this cake special!
This caramel cooks in a skillet and is easy for beginners. You will cook it on high heat to start the browning and caramelization. It will turn a light yellow color when it starts to caramelize. From this point, it can become too dark quickly, so be careful about letting it cook too long, or it will take on a burnt taste. As soon as the caramel becomes the color of honey, turn off the heat and remove it from the hot burner. Caramel will continue to brown even without heat if it is left on a hot stove burner.
Whisk in the whipping cream, butter, and salt. Stir until smooth. It is better to use room-temperature cream when making this caramel. Otherwise, cold cream can chill the caramel too quickly and produce candy pieces in it. Stir well to make a smooth caramel. The amount of salt in this caramel recipe makes a salted caramel. However, you can use just a pinch of salt if you don’t want a salty flavor.