Caramel pecan cake is the perfect easy dessert recipe. Made with a vanilla-butter frosting and classic sponge cake, it’s topped with chopped pecans and caramel sauce for a rich zing to satisfy any sweet tooth.
This caramel pecan cake combines the classic Victorian sponge with a gooey and crunchy pecan caramel filling for a unique spin on a centuries-old classic dessert. The good news is that it’s much easier to make than it looks!
Whether you’re a baking beginner or just want to liven up your cake repertoire, this recipe is for you. Today we’ll walk you through each stage of the process, including preparing the basic sponge and caramel topping.
A quick guide to what you will need for this cake recipe, including how to pick the best ingredients, and quick item alternatives.
- Chopped Pecans: Due to geography or budgets, using fresh pecans isn’t viable for the vast majority of us, so using store-bought chopped pecans is fine for this recipe. Pro tip: Use toasted pecans for a stronger flavor and crunchier texture. To make your own toasted nuts, simply heat them in a skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Caramel: We make our own caramel from scratch for this recipe, but to skip this step you can simply use store-bought caramel sauce.
- All-Purpose Flour: As with all classic cake recipes, we use all-purpose flour to create our basic Victoria sponge. For a gluten-free flour alternative, almond flour will do the trick. Almond flour creates a beautifully delicate crumb while still holding together. It does bake faster however, so ensure you cook at 25°F lower and shave about 5-10 minutes off baking time.
DIY Caramel Sauce
Homemade caramel sauce is what takes caramel pecan cake to the next level. Many bakers are intimidated by the thought of making their own caramel, but with simple step-by-step instructions, you can make your own rich, smooth caramel at home.
The first step is to gather the ingredients that you need. You will need granulated sugar, high-quality butter, cream, and salt.
Put the sugar in a metal pan (don’t use non-stick) and let it sit until it melts. Swirl the pan around or stir the sugar every few minutes to distribute it evenly, but do not stir constantly as that will affect the texture.
Once the sugar is melted, it will form a dark amber liquid. Remove it from the stovetop and add your sliced butter. Stir vigorously to combine. Be careful as the liquid may start to splatter at this point when the cold butter meets the hot molten sugar!
Once the sugar and butter form a smooth, light amber mixture that is completely combined, add the salt and cream. Whisk until the mixture is combined. This will yield a smooth caramel sauce that is the perfect pourable texture.
If your syrup runs thin, thicken caramel sauce by adding heavy cream or allowing it to reduce over low heat for a further minute.
Basic Victoria Sponge Cake
The base of this caramel pecan cake is a Victoria sponge, a forgiving recipe even for novice bakers.
The first step is to prepare your baking tins. Preheat the oven and line your tins with parchment paper to prevent the batter from sticking.
Then, cream together the butter and sugar. “Creaming” refers to stirring together butter and sugar with a hand mixer or wooden spoon until it is pale white, fluffy, and the sugar granules are incorporated.
After the butter and sugar are combined, you can add the vanilla and egg in batches, mixing well after each new addition. You want to fully incorporate each egg into the mixture before adding another one.
After that, you can add the flour. Sift the flour to get rid of any clumps (this will make the dough light and airy). Fold the flour gently because if you stir too much, that will knock the air out of the batter.
Finally, you can mix in the milk and pour the batter into the tins. The cake should be done after about 20 minutes. To make sure, add a skewer to the middle and check if it comes out clean.
Times & Temperatures
Baking time should be about 35 to 40 minutes at 350˚F. The preparation time should be about 40 minutes to an hour. This includes making the caramel sauce and fristing in total, set aside about 2 hours to make the cake entirely. You will need some time to cool the cake in between, from the time you remove the cake from the oven to when you need to frost it.
- Make sure that you preheat the oven before you start baking
- Use cooking spray to make sure that the cake doesn’t stick to the pan
- Lining the baking tray with parchment paper makes it easier to lift the cake when it’s done
- A handheld mixer will help you mix better
- Allow the caramel sauce to cool down before you need to use it
How to Make Caramel Pecan Cake
The first thing you need to do is make sure that your baking trays are ready for baking. To do this, line them with parchment paper and also spray them with cooking spray. This will help you avoid it sticking to the tray. Then you can now get cracking on the cake making itself.
Mix the butter using a mixer until it is smooth. As you mix the butter, slowly begin to add the sugar into the mix. Beat the two together until it has a smooth texture. Now, start to add in the caramel syrup that you made earlier. Slowly add it in, and make sure that it is well blended with the rest of the ingredients.
Once the butter mixture is well blended and satisfied, add in the rest of the dry ingredients, which are flour, baking powder, and salt. Then pour in the milk and mix well. You want to see all the components being carefully blended and well mixed. Then, in another bowl, beat up the eggs for about 3 minutes. Beat the eggs until they are foamy.
Then add the rest of the sugar to the foamy eggs to make it “foamier.” To get this result, you will need to whisk the mixture thoroughly for about 3 minutes. Then fold the eggs into the batter. Make sure that the result is smooth and well blended into the entire mixture, with no streaks or bubbles visible.
The next step is to pour the batter into the baking pans you would have previously prepared and set aside. Then bake for the next 20 to 30 minutes. You can tell if your cake is cooked through by doing the skewer test, where you poke the cake through with a skewer and see if it comes out clean, which means that it’s cooked. Another test that you can perform is the bounce test. When you press down on the cake, it should bounce back up and not sink in.
When the cake is cooked, let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before you remove it and let it cool on the rack further. Then you can get cracking on the icing or frosting. To make the caramel frosting. Start by melting butter and browning it in a pan or pot with a heavy base. The butter should turn brown and not black. When it’s done, set it aside and let it cool.
Then pour the butter into a bowl and mix it with the vanilla, salt, icing sugar, and cream. Blend the mixture and make sure that it’s smooth. You can manipulate the consistency by adding more cream to look the way you want it to. Cover the bits of cake you wish to frost with the icing, and then throw the pecan nuts over it.
Caramel Pecan Cake
Basic Sponge Cake
- 1 cup butter softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 lemon zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 cup butter unsalted
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp salt
- pecans roughly chopped
- Melt sugar in a heavy-based pan
- Add boiling water and keep stirring. Allow to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line an 8-inch cake pan with butter and parchment paper.
- In a bowl, whisk the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add each egg one at a time, beating well each time to ensure the egg is incorporated.
- Add the lemon zest, vanilla extract, flour, salt, milk. Whisk to combine and pour into the cake pan.
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted into the cake and come out clean. Rest for ten minutes before removing from the tin and moving to a cooling rack.
- Brown butter in a heavy-based pan.
- Let the butter cool and add vanilla, cream, salt, and powdered sugar.
- Ice the cake with this blended mixture, as much as you need to, then throw on the pecan nuts.