Photo: Greg DuPree
Active Time
1 Hour 10 Mins
Total Time
2 Hours 55 Mins
Serves 10 (serving size: 1 slice)

The "cooked" buttercream in this cake is an old-fashioned method that yields delicious results. The "praline" is one of the South's most beloved sweets, and in this show-stopping layer cake, it certainly does not disappoint. Candied pecans add a toasty crunch to the top of the cake, while the soft layers are held together with a dark brown, nutty filling and a light buttercream.


How to Make It

Step 1

Prepare the Candied Pecans: Preheat oven to 300°F. Whisk together 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 egg white in a medium bowl until foamy. Add pecan halves; toss well to coat. Spread pecan halves in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated oven until browned, 25 to 28 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. (Pecans will become crisp when cool.)

Step 2

Prepare the Cake: Increase oven temperature to 350°F. Whisk together 3 cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Beat 2 cups granulated sugar and 1 cup butter in a large bowl of a stand mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs and egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk, in 5 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed after each addition. Beat in pecan liqueur and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Divide batter evenly between 2 (9-inch) greased and floured round cake pans.

Step 3

Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 28 to 30 minutes. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans; cool completely on wire rack, about 30 minutes.

Step 4

Prepare the Filling: Combine 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, 6 tablespoons butter, and 1/4 cup heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts; bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; add powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Beat at low speed until mixture thickens to spreading consistency, about 1 minute. Stir in chopped toasted pecans.

Step 5

Prepare the Buttercream: Whisk together 1 cup light brown sugar, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan until smooth. Place pan over medium-high, and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is very thick and bubbly, 4 to 5 minutes. Spoon mixture into a bowl; place bowl in freezer, uncovered, until mixture is cold, about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

Step 6

Beat 1 cup butter with an electric mixer at medium speed, using whisk attachment, until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add cold brown sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and beat at high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Step 7

Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate; spread Filling evenly over top, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Place remaining cake layer on top, pressing lightly. Spread Buttercream on top and sides of cake. Arrange Candied Pecans over top.

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Ratings & Reviews

The best cake ever

October 08, 2016
Had this for my birthday. It takes time and expensive ingredients but is just right and keeps well. The taste on day 3 is possibly better than day 1. The cooked frosting is not nearly as sweet as most butter creams and kept well and never hardened in 3 days. Will make this many more times. Now to true variants of this cake, using maple and walnuts.

Such a delicious cake for pecan lovers!

October 04, 2016
So, I didn't bake it because my friend did. But I ate it twice in 3 hours because it was great! She just toasted the decorative pecans. The filling, cake and buttercream textures were all delicious. This is real buttercream, so different texture than confectioners sugar frosting. I would spend 3-4 hours making this cake. It's worth it because it is that good.


September 25, 2016
I made this cake yesterday. It took just over 3 hours, but it was worth it. I admit that I was worried about how the buttercream would turn out, but I thought it went perfectly with this cake. The praline filling was amazing. I couldn't find pecan liqueur at the store so I substituted with almond extract, which I thought gave the cake a very nice flavor. Loved it!


September 18, 2016
My husband requested this as his birthday cake and after seeing the reviews online I was worried he would hate it and all the work would be for nothing. However, he declared it one of the best cakes he's ever eaten and he's picky so that says a lot (and he's pretty honest with me about new recipes). He always orders a Smith Island layer cake for his birthday but thinks this might be the new choice! All that being said, 2/3 of our young kids didn't care for it so I'd say it's for a more sophisticated palette and not to be wasted on children; I found it rich but good. My only gripe is that the "hands on time" is a joke and the reason for the 4 stars, not 5. I started this cake yesterday by making the candied pecans and spent a huge chunk of today making the cake, filling and icing. This cake was undoubtably made with lots of love and many hours of time!*also to note: I didn't bother with the pecan liqueur when I couldn't find it at any stores nearby and just subbed in extra vanilla extract. I also subbed in cup4cup for all the flour to make it gluten free for my husband and daughter. I didn't have any issues with over-rising or being too dry (often issues with gluten free baking).

So disappointed.

September 11, 2016
Way too much time and trouble for the result. Cake had very little flavor, and I don't care for the buttercream icing at all. The best and most favorable part of the cake was the filling. Will not make this cake again.

Really disppointed

September 04, 2016
It took most of the day to make this cake.  Found bottle of Pecan Praline Liqueur enough of it to taster, large bottle, but cost to much to buy it and I would be stuck with a bottle and probably would never use it again.  I used all vanilla extract. Cake should be baked in 3 pans.  I did mine in 2 and over flowed into oven.  Did not care for the Buttercream icing.  Will never make it again. We ate enough just to taste and it went into the garbage.


September 03, 2016
I spent most of the afternoon making this cake. It is beautiful, but falls way short in the flavor department. It was not worth the time and effort or the 17.99 special order of Pecan Praline Liqueur needed for the cake. I was so disappointed with the lackluster taste. I will not make this cake again!