Three Tier Candied Pecan Cake with Brown Butter Pears
Cupcake Ranking: 4 Cupcake
The idea of this cake sounded good, but pears don't have a lot of taste so was skeptical. However, this cake was homey, comforting and delicious. The cake reminded me of an Italian Panettone and Mom's Sunday Fruit crisp. The texture was great and the candied pecans added a nice sweet taste to the moist cake.
2 C Chopped pecans, toasted
3 Tbs unsalted Butter, room temperature
1/4 C packed light-Brown sugar
1 Tbs pure Vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 sticks unsalted Butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
3 C all-purpose Flour, plus more for pans
2 tsp Baking powder
1 3/4 C Granulated sugar
1 C plus 2 Tbs Whole milk
3 large Egg whites
4 Tbs Unsalted butter
4 Anjou pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch wedges, and tossed with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 C Chilled heavy cream
2 Tbs Bourbon (optional) (I used Orange juice)
2 tsp Confectioners' sugar
Garnish: 1/3 C Chopped Pecans
Candy the pecans: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss toasted pecans with butter, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring to coat halfway through, until toasted, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Make the cake: Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, and dust with flour, tapping out excess (I used a 8 inch springform pan. I placed all of the batter in one pan. Many reviewers complained of dryness. Mine wasn't dry at all. I think that having it bake for longer in one pan helped with the moisture factor.) Sift flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a bowl. Beat butter and 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in candied pecans.
Beat egg whites in a clean bowl with a mixer on high speed until frothy. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter using a rubber spatula. Fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions.
Divide batter among pans. Bake until cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (In one pan it took about 45 minutes) Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks, and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the pear filling: Brown butter in a skillet over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Cook pears, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 6 minutes.
(Only do this step right before serving the cake) Make the bourbon whipped cream: Whisk cream, bourbon (or orange juice), and confectioners' sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
Trim tops of cakes to create a level surface using a serrated knife. Transfer 1 cake to a platter. Spread half the pears over the top. Top with another cake. Spread remaining pears over the top. Top with remaining cake. Spread whipped cream over the top. Garnish with chopped pecans.
Rach's Review: This cake was really delicious and super comforting. It would be a great winter, fall or winter cake. The cake was moist, the pecans added a sweet crunch, and the pears provided a fruity taste and texture. This reminded me of cold winter Idaho nights, sitting at home, playing games with my family eating hot fruit crisp with whipping cream. Enjoy!