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Bill Neal's Toasted Pecan Caramel Cake



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Bill Neal's
Toasted Pecan Caramel Cake

Bill Neal's
Southern Cooking

by Bill Neal, 1985, The University of North Carolina Press

"At any southern church supper, social, or dinner on the grounds, a
caramel cake will most likely vanish before any other dessert. The
perfect caramel cake - without the slightest grain to the icing - is
respected by all cooks; it is particularly relished by the southern
male. Its appearance is no everyday occurrence either, being
reserved for Sundays, birthdays, or holidays.
I've always found the slightly astringent quality of the pecan much
to my taste. In this cake it works well to play against the intense
sweetness of the praline icing."

1 cup (225 g) butter
2 cups (403 g) sugar
4 eggs, separated
2 cups (244 g) flour
3/4 cup (180 ml) finely ground pecans
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (235 ml) milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Butter and flour for the pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
Grind the pecans to a fine mill in a nut grinder, food processor or
blender. Proceed in small batches; blending too long will heat the
nuts and render them oily.
Butter and flour 3 9-inch round cake pans. All ingredients should be
at room temperature. Cream the butter well and gradually beat in the
sugar. Add the egg yolks one by one, reserving the whites for the final
step. Sift the flour, ground pecans, baking powder, and salt together.
Add one-third of the mix to the butter mixture. Add 1/2 cup (118 ml)
of the milk, one-third of the dry ingredients, the remaining milk, then
the remaining dry ingredients. Mix well and add vanilla extract.
In a separate clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold one-
fourth of the egg whites into the batter, stirring well. Gently fold the remaining whites into the batter and pour the batter into the cake
pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. The cakes will be lightly browned
and drawn away from the edges of the pans. Let cool 5 minutes
and turn out onto a cooling rack.

Caramel Icing and Garnish
1 pound (450 g) light brown sugar
1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
6 tablespoons (90 g) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
48 perfect pecan halves
1 tablespoon (15 g) butter
1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C).
Combine the brown sugar, cream, salt and corn syrup in a heavy-
bottomed 1 1/2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high
heat, stirring constantly. At the boil, cover the pot and cook 3 minutes. Uncover and cook rapidly until a candy thermometer reaches 242 de-
grees F (117 degrees C) - this is the upper limit of the soft ball stage,
almost at hard ball if you  do not have a thermometer. At this point
remove from heat and beat in 2 tablespoons cold butter. Let icing
cool to lukewarm.
While waiting for the icing to cool, roast the pecans with the 1 table-
spoon butter for 10 minutes in the oven. Remove, sprinkle with sugar,
and return to the oven for 2 more minutes. Let cool and reserve.
When icing is lukewarm, beat in vanilla extract and the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Continue beating until icing thickens somewhat.
It should remain fairly glossy and smooth. (If icing cools too much,
its texture and gloss can be restored by reheating very gently with a
little cream or milk.) When ready, ice cake and decorate top with
reserved pecans.

Featured Archive Recipes:
Caramel Frosting Collection
Bill Neal's Chocolate Black Walnut
Pound Cake

Coconut Pineapple Layer Cake
New Orleans Chocolate Layer Cake
Spiced Pecan Cake with Pecan
Frosting (Paul Prudhomme)

Walnut-Spice Layer Cake with
Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

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