Browned Butter Pecan Layer Cake

This Browned Butter Pecan Layer Cake has three layers of buttery vanilla cake filled with toasted pecans that are covered with the most delicious browned butter frosting. It’s the perfect cake for the holidays!

Brown Butter Pecan Cake

Toasted Pecans

  • ¼ cup Challenge Butter, melted
  • 2 ¼ cups finely chopped pecans
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, loosely packed

Cake Layers

  • ¾ cup Unsalted Challenge Butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups all purpose flour, preferably sifted
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons water, room temperature

Brown Butter Frosting

  • 2¼ cups Challenge Butter
  • 1¼ cups shortening
  • 10 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons water or milk

Toast the Pecans

  • 1
    Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  • 2
    Combine the melted butter, pecans and brown sugar in a medium sized bowl and toss to coat.
  • 3
    Spread the pecans evenly onto the cookie sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until toasted.
  • 4
    Set pecans aside to cool.

Make the Cake Layers

  • 5
    Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Leave the oven at 350°F (176°C).
  • 6
    In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
  • 7
    Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
  • 8
    Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  • 9
    Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then combine the milk and water in a measuring cup.
  • 10
    Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until well combined. Add the milk mixture and mix until well combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  • 11
    Gently stir 1 cup of the toasted pecans into the batter.
  • 12
    Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for about 24-26 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
  • 13
    Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.

Make the Frosting

  • 14
    Melt 2 cups of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. It’s best to use a light colored pan so that you can see the butter browning. Whisk the butter occasionally so that it cooks evenly.
  • 15
    Cook the butter until turns a nice toasty brown. It will foam up at first, particularly since this is a good bit of butter, but it will eventually subside and you’ll have browned butter. Some of the brown bits may separate, but that’s ok. Once the butter has browned, pour it into a heat-proof bowl and set it in the fridge to cool completely.
  • 16
    Bring the butter back to room temperature, then add it to a large mixer bowl with the additional 1/4 cup of butter and the shortening. Beat until smooth.
  • 17
    Slowly add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  • 18
    Add 4-5 tablespoons of water and mix until smooth.
  • 19
    Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  • 20
    Add the remaining water, if needed, and mix until smooth.

Assemble the Cake

  • 21
    Use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat. Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.
  • 22
    Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake, then top the frosting with 3-4 tablespoons of the remaining toasted pecans.
  • 23
    Add the second layer of cake, another cup of frosting and 3-4 tablespoons of pecans.
  • 24
    Top the cake with the remaining layer and frost the cake. Refer to my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if needed.
  • 25
    Pipe swirls of frosting around the top edge of the cake and press the remaining pecans into the sides of the cake and sprinkle some over the top. Store the cake in an airtight container. Cake is best for 2-3 days.

Recipe By

Life, Love and Sugar

A self-taught baker, Lindsay is a wife and puppy mom with a serious sweets addiction. Her motto is "Bring on the sugar!" You can find recipes, video tutorials, and more at Life, Love and Sugar.