This recipe is for a sweet and tender maple cake full of chopped pecans, frosted and filled with decadent brown butter buttercream. This maple pecan layer cake is sure to be a pecan lovers dream!
If you're looking for other pecan or fall recipes check out my maple pecan sticky buns, pumpkin cupcakes, apple cider donuts, salted caramel almond cupcakes or pumpkin bread!
This post is sponsored by Minerva Dairy. Thank you for supporting the brands that make In Bloom Bakery possible!
Why You'll Love This Maple Pecan Layer Cake:
It's frosted with brown butter buttercream. Umm if you've never had brown butter buttercream before, buckle up. Simply put, it's amazing and tastes like no other frosting you've had before. Browning the butter gives the frosting a delicious nutty flavor that pairs perfectly with the maple pecan cake.
Chopped pecan pieces in every bite. Finely chopped pecans are woven throughout the whole cake so you are sure to get some in each bite of cake!
It's easy to make! This cake is actually pretty simple to make! The most challenging part is making the brown butter buttercream but I'll walk you through all the steps!
Ingredients for Maple Pecan Layer Cake:
- Flour- all purpose flour is used in this cake for the best texture
- Butter- a lot of unsalted butter is needed, make sure it is softened
- Buttermilk-helps keep the cake moist
- Sugar- brown sugar and granulated sugar go in the cake batter, and powdered sugar is used in the frosting
- Pecans- finely chopped pecans are added right to the cake batter and on top of the cake
- Baking powder & soda-help the cake layers to rise
- Eggs- whole eggs are used in the cake, make sure they're room temperature
- Vanilla- As always, I recommend vanilla bean paste for the best flavor
- Maple syrup- the real deal, not pancake syrup
- Salt-helps bring out all the flavors
Step by Step Instructions
STEP ONE: Cream butter, brown sugar and granulated white sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer.
STEP TWO: Add in eggs and vanilla and mix for one minute until pale in color.
STEP THREE: Next add in maple syrup and buttermilk and combine.
STEP FOUR: In a small bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
STEP FIVE: Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine. Then mix in the finely chopped pecans.
STEP SIX: Grease 3 6” cake pans and divide the batter evenly between them. Bake the cakes at 350 degrees for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick/cake tester comes out clean from the centers. Let the cakes cool in the pans after baking for a few 10 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack to completely cool.
STEP SEVEN: While the cakes bake and cool make the frosting. Add the unsalted butter to a sauce pan and heat over medium low heat until the butter simmers. Stir the butter occasionally. The butter will bubble as it is heated and it will start to turn a light golden brown color. Once you see that it has turned brown and is giving off a slightly nutty scent, remove it from the heat.
STEP EIGHT: Transfer the brown butter to a large mixing bowl and place that bowl over a larger bowl of ice to cool the butter quickly. Stir the butter with a spatula while it is cooling to ensure it cools evenly. (Putting it over ice helps it to cool the quickest.) Cool it until it is about the same consistency as regular softened butter. You should be able to easily stir and spread the brown butter.
STEP NINE: Once it is cooled add in the salt and whip the butter with an electric mixer for 5-10 minutes until it is pale in color and fluffy. Sift in the powdered sugar a little at a time until it is all added. Lastly add in the vanilla and mix until the frosting is light and fluffy.
See recipe below for complete measurements.
Assembling the maple pecan layer cake
FOR THESE STEPS YOU WILL NEED:
- a cake scraper
- a rotating cake turntable
- a cake frosting spatula
- a sharp knife
- an icing bag fitted with a decorative star tip (I love Wilton's 1M tip)
GETTING PERFECTLY SIZED CAKE LAYERS:
You'll need to make each layer as similar in size as possible in order to assemble the cake. Usually you will only have to cut the tops off of each cake layer. With a sharp knife, remove the tops from each cake layer until each are flat and can be stacked to where the cake is even. So, each layer should sit flat on each other without the cake leaning.
CREATING THE CRUMB LAYER:
Then place a dollop of brown butter buttercream in the center of your cake turntable. Place the first cake layer over it. Then add a generous portion of brown butter buttercream on top of the cake layer and even it out with your frosting spatula, turning the cake table as you go. Place the next cake layer over top and repeat the step. Then place the final layer over the top and place small dollops of brown butter buttercream on the outsides and top of the cake. Even out the frosting as much as possible with your frosting spatula.
Then with your cake scraper, scrape the icing across the cake, turning the cake table as you go to make this as easy as possible. This layer of frosting should be very thin. This is called the "crumb layer" and will ensure that the cake’s final coating of frosting is smooth and free of crumbs.
FINAL FROSTING LAYER
Once the crumb layer of frosting has been applied, place the cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow the frosting to harden. Once the cake has chilled in the fridge, remove it and apply the final coating of frosting. Apply generous dollops of frosting on the sides and top of the cake and smooth them out with your cake frosting spatula. Then with your cake scraper even out the frosting, turning the cake table as you go, to give you an even coating of brown butter buttercream.
DECORATING THE CAKE:
Place the remaining brown butter buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a large decorative tip. Go along the top edges of the cake with brown butter buttercream to create large dollops. Once your buttercream boarder is on, sprinkle chopped pecans on top and around the bottom edges of the cake. I chose to add some cinnamon sticks and star anise to the top of the cake but you can add whatever else you think would look beautiful!
Serve the cake right away, or keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Store left overs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days for the freshest, best flavor.
Do I have to brown the butter for the frosting? No! You can definitely make just regular vanilla buttercream for this cake, but brown butter buttercream is 1000x better!
How long will this cake stay fresh for? It will stay fresh for up to three days in an airtight container.
Can I bake the cake in two 8" pans instead of three 6" pans? Yes you sure can. I've only tested this recipe with 6" pans however. Bake the cakes at 350 and begin checking for doneness around 28 minutes. Add more time as needed.
Make sure all your wet ingredients for the cake are room temperature. This will yield the best cake texture. Cold wet ingredients can make the cake "gummy" or not rise as well.
Use a food scale to weigh the batter and make sure it's evenly distributed between each cake pan.
For an even more decadent cake, top it with my homemade salted caramel sauce!
Use 6 inch circular parchment paper inserts to help the cakes not to stick to the bottom of the pans.
If you make this cake please leave a star rating! Tag me on Instagram @inbloombakery_ so I can see! Follow me on Pinterest for other dessert ideas!
Other cake recipes to try:
Maple Pecan Layer Cake
For the Maple Pecan Cake
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup packed, light brown sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup finely chopped pecans
For the Brown Butter Buttercream
- 2 ½ cups unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Maple Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease 3 6” cake pans. Set aside.
- Start by creaming the butter, granulated white sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer.
- Then add in the eggs and vanilla and mix for one minute until pale in color.
- Next add in the maple syrup and buttermilk and combine.
- In a small bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine.
- Lastly mix in the finely chopped pecans.
- Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans.
- Bake the cakes for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick/cake tester comes out clean from the centers.
- Let the cakes cool in the pans after baking for 10 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack to completely cool.
For the Brown Butter Buttercream
- Add the unsalted butter to a sauce pan and heat over medium low heat until the butter simmers. Stir the butter occasionally. The butter will bubble as it is heated and it will start to turn a light golden brown color.
- Once you see that it has turned brown and is giving off a slightly nutty scent, remove it from the heat.
- Transfer the brown butter to a large mixing bowl and place that bowl over a larger bowl of ice to cool the butter quickly. Stir the butter with a spatula while it is cooling to ensure it cools evenly. (Putting it over ice helps it to cool the quickest.) Cool it until it is about the same consistency as regular softened butter. You should be able to easily stir and spread the brown butter.
- Once it is cooled add in the salt and whip the butter with an electric mixer for 5-10 minutes until it is pale in color and fluffy.
- Sift in the powdered sugar a little at a time until it is all added.
- Lastly add in the vanilla and mix the frosting until it is light and fluffy, about one more minute.
Assembling the Cake
- Once the cakes are completely cooled you can assemble the cake. You can simply fill each layer with and frost the outside with brown butter buttercream. (However, if you are looking to make a really beautiful cake, follow the extra steps in the above blog post).
- Serve the cake right away, or keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Store left overs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days for the freshest, best flavor.
Unbelievable cake. So worth the time it takes.
Thank you for trying it! I'm so glad you liked it!!
This cake was so delicious! It came together perfectly and was scrumptious. We didn't make the frosting, simply because I was lazy, and it didn't need it.
Hi Kris. I'm so happy to hear you liked the cake!
I’m a sucker for anything maple! And this really hit the spot
I would love to try this recipe with cupcakes. How many would you say it would yield and how long would they be baked for?
Hi Cindy. Most of my cake recipes yield 24 cupcakes. I would recommend just filling each liner 3/4 way full, however many that ends up yielding. Bake at 350, starting at 17 minutes, and adding time as necessary until a toothpick comes out clean from the centers.
Texture and crumb of cake was fine frosting was excellent. Flavor of the cake I had no maple flavor all I could taste was cinnamon now I am not a real cinnamon fan so for me it wasn’t so great but the people I served it you really enjoyed it but I was looking for a maple cake and to me this was a cinnamon cake
Cake tasted great and had lovely texture, but didn't make nearly enough batter with listed amounts. Batter only barely covered 6" cake tin bottoms and cakes rose to about 1" tall. Will definitely try again with double the ingredients.