- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes
- serves 15
This buttermilk pecan cake is a perfect snacking cake. I’ll gladly eat it a few times per day, for at least three days straight. With a delightful contrast between the toasty exterior and the moist—yet light—interior, it tastes just as good on day three as it does when it first comes out of the oven.
When eaten plain, this cake has a subtle sweetness, accented with the harmonious and comforting flavors of vanilla and toasted pecans. It’s a humble looking cake, but you can easily dress it up with a dusting of powdered sugar or any combination of frosting or toppings. In the morning, I’ll eat it slathered with softened butter and sprinkled with crunchy salt. In the afternoon, I enjoy it toasted briefly under the broiler and then finished with a dollop of Nutella. Fresh fruit and whipped cream would also be a welcome combination for this cake.
The recipe is adapted from Carl Erskine’s book Tales From the Dodger Dugout. If you’re a baseball fan, you may recognize Carl Erskine as a pitcher from the famed Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950’s. According to Erskine, this cake became a good luck charm for the team during their 1955 championship season. Teammate Frank Kellert had his family in Oklahoma mail buttermilk cakes to the Dodger clubhouse all throughout that year, including during the World Series against the rival Yankees. According to Erskine, “We didn’t want to go into the World Series without a supply of buttermilk cake.”
The secret to this cake is the amount of vanilla extract used—the recipe calls for ¼ cup. At first glance, this might seem like an obscene amount of vanilla to add to a cake. But the vanilla doesn’t overpower it; instead, it adds an intoxicating aroma and perfectly complementary flavor. —Josh Cohen
unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pan
all-purpose flour, plus more for lining pan
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter then flour a 10-inch bundt pan; set aside.
- Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed, until the mixture appears light and fluffy. Turn the stand mixer off. Add one egg and beat on medium speed until the egg is fully incorporated. Repeat, adding the eggs one at a time. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add half of this flour mixture to the bowl from the stand mixer, along with half of the buttermilk. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the mixture together. Add the remaining flour mixture along with the remaining buttermilk, and gently fold until just combined. (The batter will be thick. Do not overmix it.) Add the vanilla and the pecans, gently folding with the rubber spatula until the batter is uniform, with no flour streaks remaining.
- Transfer the batter to the pan. Use the rubber spatula to ensure the batter is sitting evenly inside the tube pan. Bake for 70 to 80 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool to room temperature before removing it from the tube pan. This cake lasts for up to four days, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature.