If you read the book ‘Julie & Julia’, no doubt you remember when Julie described making Paul Prudhomme’s Spiced Pecan Cake. Aside from it being completely bizarre that this married woman was pouring all of this effort into a cake she was making for an actor guy that she had a crush on, it was a great part of the book. I wanted to make the cake right on the spot.
Paul Prudhomme’s Spiced Pecan Cake has the ‘Really Factor’ going for it, too.
5 sticks of butter
4 cups pecans
6 cups sugar
8 egg yolks
One thing for sure is that this cake is REALLY wonderful. It takes some time and effort to make (the frosting, in particular, was quite a fiddle) but I assure you it is worth every minute. It is also worth every calorie. That is where the Lost Waistline comes in, if you are not careful. I swear I cut a sliver of cake every time I opened the fridge and saw the leftovers sitting there. I just couldn’t resist, it was that good.
Now for the Lost Coastlines.
The Halloween before last, my son, who was 10 at the time, and I dressed up as Okkervil River’s Lost Coastlines Video. I was Sheff and he was Jonathan Meiburg. We had our costumes on and a mini CD player blasting the song as we sang along. (I sing outside of the kitchen, too).
My husband thought we were nuts. “Nobody is going to know what or who you are”, he said. I was sure there would be a few souls in our small town that would recognize the costume. So, in response to my certainty, husband says he will give me $10 for every person who guessed correctly.
I did not make a cent.
However, it was some of the most fun I ever had on Halloween (even if my son was a bit embarrassed by how much I was getting into my part).
Would you have known who we were?
Now: The real Okkervil.
And now for the transition from Lost Coastlines to Lost Waistlines. (Seriously. Make this cake.)
Spiced Pecan Cake With Pecan Icing
Candied Pecan Ingredients:
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups sifted unbleached flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
9 oz milk
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
Cake Glaze Ingredients:
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pecan Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
8 egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/2 cups butter or margarine, cut into pieces, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
4 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
Whipping cream, if needed to thin
Directions for Candied Pecans:
1. Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.
2. To candy pecans, place in a large ungreased metal baking sheet. Roast 10
minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.
3. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Mix in butter, and stir in hot pecans to coat thoroughly. Return mixture to pan and roast 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.
4. Mix in vanilla, and roast another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Cool candied pecans to room temperature.
Directions For Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease and flour three 8″ round cake pans.
3.Cream butter with 1 1/2 cups sugar in large bowl of electric mixer at high speed until very light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.
4. Sift flour and baking soda into another bowl.
5. Combine milk and vanilla in measuring cup. Add dry ingredients and milk mixture alternately to butter mixture, beating at high speed until well blended, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Gently stir in candied pecans.
6. Beat egg whites until frothy. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar 1 tablespoon at a
time, beating at high speed until mixture is stiff but not dry, about 2
minutes. Gently fold beaten egg whites into batter in three additions.
7. Divide batter among prepared pans, forming a slight depression in the center
8. Bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean,
about 40 minutes.
9. Cool 10 minutes in pans, then invert onto wire racks, and cool to room temperature.
Directions For Cake Glaze:
1.Heat water and sugar in heavy small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves, swirling pan occasionally.
2. Increase heat, and bring mixture to a full boil. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Immediately brush hot glaze over top and sides of each cake layer.
Directions For Frosting:
1. Heat sugar and water in heavy 1 quart saucepan over low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until sugar dissolves.
2. Increase heat and boil without stirring until mixture registers 230 degrees F (thread stage) on candy thermometer, swirling pan occasionally, about 15 minutes.
3. Blend egg yolks in the large bowl of an electric mixer at high speed for 5 seconds. Decrease speed to low, and add hot syrup in a thin stream, and then beat at high speed until cool, about 10 minutes. DO NOT SCRAPE DOWN SIDES OF BOWL.
4. Gradually add butter, beating at medium speed until smooth, about 5 minutes.
5. Reduce speed to low, and blend in powdered sugar and vanilla.
6. Add chopped pecans and beat at high speed until mixture is very thick. Thin frosting with cream if necessary.
Directions For Cake Assembly:
1. Stack cake layers on a serving platter, spreading 1 cup of frosting between each, refrigerating frosting as necessary to keep it firm. Smooth remaining frosting on sides and top of cake.
2. Arrange pecan halves around top edge. Serve at room temperature.
Note: If this does not sound rich enough for you, it can be made even richer. To do so, increase all ingredients used to candy the
pecans by one half. After cooling, reserve one cup of the candied pecans
and add these to the icing at the same time as the toasted pecans are added.
Makes one three layer cake
Recipe from the March, 1984 issue of Bon Appétit, and before that from the cookbook, Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen. I followed the recipe posted here.
Okkervil River is one of my favorite bands. The 2008 album that Lost Coastlines is from, ‘The Stand Ins’ is my favorite of theirs. I adore concept albums and this is just that. Bleak moods, romantic regrets, the difficulties inherent in the life of a celebrity. The arrangements are interesting (fantastic) and the lyrics while cynical at times, are always on the mark. Here is my other favorite from ‘The Stand Ins’.
“Old times, hello, hey, I’ve missed you
Old life, hey now, let me in
Because you win on every issue
Now, can I kiss you?”
Okkervil River-Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed On The Roof Of The Chelsea Hotel, 1979
Okkervil River also has a new album coming out: ‘I Am Very Far’. This is the first single released. Pretty good, huh?
Okkervil River-Wake And Be Fine
You can buy Okkervil River’s music here.