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Pecan Vanilla Cake with Caramel Glaze

Pecan Vanilla Cake with Caramel Glaze


For the Cake

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the caramel

  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For the buttercream

  • 2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 lb powdered sugar


For the Cake

  • In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla, then the egg yolks and whole eggs one at a time until incorporated.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • With the mixer running, add the flour mixture in increments, alternating between that mixture and the buttermilk. Begin and end with the flour mixture.
  • Gently fold in the chopped pecans until incorporated, but don't overmix.
  • Divide the batter between 2 prepared 8" cake pans. Bake for about 50 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let cool completely before turning out of the pans. Once cool, use a large serrated knife to cut the domed tops off of each cake and discard. Then carefully cut each whole layer in half so you have 4 layers.

For the caramel

  • In a small sauce pan, mix together the sugar and water. Bring to a slow boil over medium high heat. Once it starts boiling, let it get to a light amber color, but no darker.
  • Once it reaches that light amber color, add the butter and quickly whisk to combine.
  • Once the butter is incorporated, remove from the heat and add the heavy cream and salt. The cream will make it bubble up pretty rapidly, so just whisk it carefully to combine.
  • Let the caramel cool to just a bit warmer than room temperature before using on the cake. You want it to be viscous enough to spread across the cake and drizzle down the sides, but not so much that it just pools at the bottom. If it feels to cool and hard, try putting it in the microwave for 8 second increments.

For the buttercream

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy, then add the vanilla.
  • Add the powdered sugar in 1/4 cup increments so it has time to fully incorporate into the butter mixture. Once you've added about a cup and half of powdered sugar, add the heavy cream.
  • Continue to add powdered sugar until it reaches your desired consistency; I like my buttercream a little on the thick side, so you can hold a spoonful upside down and it won't fall, yet is still smooth and pliable enough to spread easily over cake.

For assembly

  • Place one of the halved cake rounds on a cardboard cake circle on a cake turntable. Add a 1/2" thick layer of buttercream, then add the next halved cake round and continue until you have no more.
  • Use the icing that is peeping out from in between the layers to create a "dirty ice" or just a thin film of icing to capture any crumbs. You can also use a little bit of extra buttercream to achieve this.
  • To ice the rest of the cake, I like to use a piping bag with a 1/2" opening to vertically pipe an even amount of buttercream around the cake sides, then in a spiral on the top. From here, simply smooth out with an icing spatula or add your desired texture.
  • Once the caramel has cooled to room temperature, pour directly onto the top center of the cake. Use a spoon or icing spatula to gently move toward the edges, and let it drizzle down the sides a bit. Top with a few pecans as a garnish.


  • You can divide the batter into 3 - 8" cake pans and bake for less time. I wouldn't halve these cake rounds unless you make an extra half batch of buttercream to compensate.