Pecan Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting; gilding the lily

Pecan Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting….

And Caramel Sauce….

And Butter Pecan Ice Cream….

Okay, that all may be a bit excessive. Maybe if I made desserts more often I wouldn’t attempt to put it all on one plate at the same time.

It could be ‘gilding the lily’.

Or it could just be really, really good.

I received no complaints from our guests and sent them all home with a wedge of cake.

I was able to make this wonderful cake thanks to the gift of pecans from ma belle-soeur and beau-frere in Hawaii.

I combined a few recipes I found on-line but I ran into a slight problem. One of the recipes said to use a 15 cup bundt pan and the other said a 10″ tube pan. The one using the 10″ pan actually had more flour and nuts in the recipe – which, in retrospect, should have been a big red flag.

I ignored it because it didn’t fit my plans…..

I made the cake and put it into my pan, which is a 10″ bundt cake pan that holds 10 cups.

Do I read directions?  Of course. Do I follow them? When it suits me…. maybe.

The batter filled it to the brim.

Normally, my cake batters are about 1 – 1 1/2 inches below the brim.

I then spent the next hour worrying that it was going to overflow and make a proper mess in my oven and ruin my cake.

It rose way above the pan.

I think, because of all the nuts and the batter being very thick, it didn’t overflow.

Because of the height I had to bake it 10 minutes longer then either recipe.

Then I spent a day worrying that it wouldn’t be good…. So I made the caramel sauce in case it was dry from being baked too long.

I needn’t have worried and the caramel sauce wasn’t necessary…. But it was really good and we ate it anyway.

I love gilded lilies.

Pecan Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

Total time: 2 hours


  • 2 1/2 cups (20oz, 600gr) dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 cups (16oz, 480gr)  butter, soft
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 4 cups (17.5oz, 520gr)  flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (8oz, 240ml) milk
  • 4 cups (17oz, 500gr) chopped, toasted pecans
  • Brown Sugar Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 120gr) dark brown sugar
  • 2oz (60gr) butter
  • 1/4 cup (2oz, 60ml) heavy cream
  • 1  – 1 1/2 (4 – 6oz, 100 – 150gr) cups powdered sugar
  • Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup (8oz, 240gr) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (2oz (60gr) butter
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt

Pecan Cake, Brown Sugar Frosting


  • Butter and flour a 10″ (25cm) tube pan
  • Preheat oven to 325F (165C)
  • Toast pecans by spreading flat on a baking sheet and baking for 5 minutes.
  • Remove pecans and roughly chop.
  • Put pecans in a bowl and toss with 1/4 cup of the flour. 
  • Cream butter until fluffy.
  • Add brown sugar and beat until fluffy.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg.
  • Combine remaining flour (3 3/4 cups), baking powder, salt.
  • Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, alternating with milk, and beat on low speed after each addition.
  • Stir in pecans.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake, 1 hour and 20 – 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes away clean. Start testing after 1 hour 15 minutes.
  • Remove and cool for 20 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely.
  • Brown Sugar Frosting:
  • Heat brown sugar, butter and cream to boiling in a saucepan.
  • Boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes (or less).
  • Add powdered sugar, 1/3 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition, until desired thickness..
  • Spoon glaze on cake
  • Caramel Sauce:
  • Heat all ingredients to boiling in a small saucepan, whisking constantly.
  • Boil for 6 minutes, whisking,
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Print Recipe

I should also mention that this cake is very, very heavy.

It would easily serve 16 – 20. We had 8 for dinner and everyone had a reasonable slice, I sent a large wedge home with everyone and we have had 3 more slices each.

If / when I make it again I think I will try to make a smaller version.

But it was really, really good!

One last thing….

I think the recipe for the Caramel Sauce came from the Pioneer Woman’s blog, but I’m not sure….

When I was looking for a recipe her site came up but, as I couldn’t bear to waste my time looking at a million photos of bubbling sugar, I immediately backed out of it. I ended up on the Food Network site, which is almost as irritating, and I think reference was made to her recipe.

As I couldn’t find a print button on that site, I scribbled down the ingredients and that was that.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the pecans…. you know who you are 😉

Last update on February 14, 2018

11 thoughts on “Pecan Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting; gilding the lily”

  1. It looks wonderful! But alas, no nuts 🙁

    It’s interesting you mention The Pioneer Woman. I watched one of her episodes the other day and she commented that when she started out, she thought people wanted to see more than the finished product so she started taking pictures of the recipes as they went along and people commented how helpful they were so she keeps it up now. Also something about how there weren’t many doing that. I can see where they’d be very helpful for people who aren’t cooks or bakers. They have something to compare to, kind of like an online lesson. I don’t need an online lesson unless it’s something I’ve never, ever done before like the macarons I want to try next week, so it’s frustrating to me as well when I try to check out some of her recipes. Beside that, most recipes are only guidelines for me anyway unless it’s baking.

    Someone told me years ago, when I was very young, Cooking is an art, baking is a science. I think that’s very true…

    • I agree completely with the art v science analogy. As to multiple photos – early on I visited the PW site and she had 15 photos of toast. TOAST! I have a slow internet compared to those in most of the US and with that many photos, irrelevant photos (I know what a spoon looks like) I never get to the actual recipe. If you want to do instruction, do a video. I can watch YouTube with no problems but multiple photos that are not properly sized for internet speed…. I’ll stop now lol

  2. I haven’t looked at the Pioneer Woman for a very long time so I was unaware that she was one of these food bloggers that includes every single, nearly identical photo they took while making the dish. I assume it’s because typical readers like images. It certainly doesn’t add anything if you are planning to actually cook the recipe.

    • Susan, and it takes forever to load with our internet speed….. I really love it when they post the ingredients: A bottle of ketchup, 2 potatoes, whatever. Please…..

  3. Katie, when I come to your site, I frequently encounter pop-up ads that tell me I’m really lucky to have won something that in reality I don’t want. These ads make it very hard to continue reading (no x to close it or a box that says “close” but then just goes to another hard-to-close box. Grrrrr! I’m not sure if you have any control of that or not but if you do could you please stop those. Super frustrating when I can’t get to your stories. Thanks, Pam

  4. I would never consider it to be gilding the lily to add caramel sauce and butter pecan ice cream to pecan cake with brown sugar frosting! That sounds perfect.

    Did you make the ice cream too? If so, will you post the recipe please?

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