Notes: You can bake the cakes (through step 3) up to 1 day ahead; cover and store at room temperature. Up to 6 hours ahead, assemble layers; cover with a large inverted bowl or pan and chill. Prep and Cook Time: about 1 hour, plus 1 1/2 hours to cool cakes.
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
3 tablespoons plus 1 3/4 cups whipping cream
1 cup chopped pecans
4 large eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups canned cooked pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 3/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup powdered sugar
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with cooking parchment. In a heavy 1- to 2-quart pan over low heat, stir brown sugar, butter, and 3 tablespoons whipping cream until melted and blended, about 5 minutes. Pour half the brown sugar mixture into each of the cake pans. Sprinkle 3/4 cup chopped pecans evenly into pans.
In a bowl, with a spoon, beat eggs, granulated sugar, and oil until well blended. Stir in pumpkin and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt to blend. Whisk dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture until well blended. Pour half the batter into each of the pans; smooth top.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans on racks about 5 minutes, then invert onto racks and remove pans and paper. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
Up to 6 hours before serving, in a bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, beat remaining 1 3/4 cups whipping cream until soft peaks form. On low speed, beat in powdered sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla just until blended. Set one cake layer, pecan praline side up, on a serving platter. Spread two-thirds of the whipped cream mixture over the top. Set second layer, praline side up, on top. Cover with remaining whipped cream mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup chopped pecans.
Oh. My. Goodness. This is indeed a showstopper - it's one of the tastiest and most beautiful cakes I ever made. Such a moist, robust cake with crunchy praline pecans in caramel baked onto each layer, and it feeds a crowd. Kind of like a cake, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie all in one dessert with lots of whipped cream on top. According to my taste, though, I changed the spices to switch out the nutmeg for ground cloves, in the same ratio I use for pumpkin pie: in this case 1-1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, and 1/2 tsp cloves. One caution - be careful if you're taking it to a party or somewhere out. It's easy for the top layer to break with movement since it's a heavy cake; it did so for me. No disaster though, the whipped cream hid the break and no one could tell. I'm thinking of either doing it in three layers next time, or spreading the cream in the middle all the way out to the edge to make sure it's level. Whatever, I can't wait until Christmas when I'm making it again.
This is a wonderful recipe - fairly easy to make, and impressive. The best thing is the taste and the compliments you'll get. If you love pumpkin, this is the best recipe!! Sometimes I underfill the cake pans and have some leftover to put in tiny loaf pans without the pecans or whip cream. They taste like cupcakes - I think I'm going to make cupcakes with cream cheese frosting from this recipe next!
I have made this cake many, many times. It always comes out fantastic and everyone raves about it and wants the recipe. I have cut down the white sugar to 1 1/3 cup and the vegetable oi to 3/4 cup and it is perfect that way.
So I baked this for a thanksgiving potluck at work and every one raved about it. I didn't actually get to eat it but one of my co-worker's told me that this was the best cake he had had in the past 40 years. I think that says enough. Will be making again!
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