I usually only make cake for special occasions, but I decided to make this Sour Cream Layer Cake just for the hell of it after discovering it in a Bon Appetit cookbook I scored for $2 at the library. The frosting and Pecan Brittle are a little time consuming but the cake part is made using a box mix, so overall this is not too labor-intensive a recipe.
The real star of this cake is the pecan brittle which is not only gorgeous and dramatic, it provides a nice crunch in the middle and makes for a nice texture contrast.
The texture of the cake layers is a little crumbly, but not dry. Go easy on the sugar in the frosting if you don’t want the frosting super sweet. The recipe calls for up to 6 cups. I used around 4 1/2 to 5 cups and thought it was plenty sweet. When cooking the pecan brittle, watch it carefully towards the end of the cooking time. It will start to darken very quickly and will continue to darken some when you remove it from the heat.
If you’re looking for a truly superb cake, and you love the flavor of almonds, try Almond Cake with Amaretto Filling. It is fabulous.
- nonstick vegetable oil spray
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¾ cup pecan halves, toasted, coarsely chopped
- nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix (I used Duncan Hinz 16.5-ounce)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely grated (I used 3 ounces)
- ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup whipping cream
- 6 cups powdered sugar (I used 4½ to 5 cups)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- For Pecan Brittle: Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. In a small heavy saucepan, combine sugar, ¼ cup water, and cream of tartar. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and let mixture boil without stirring until it turns a deep amber color, about 9 minutes. Occasionally brush down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush. Once a deep amber color, add chopped pecans, and swirl to mix. Pour onto prepared baking sheet. Let cool and break brittle into 3 large pieces for the top of the cake and a bunch of smaller pieces for the filling.
- For Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray and line bottoms with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, combine cake mix, eggs, sour cream, oil, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Beat until well blended, about 3 minutes. Fold in chocolate and pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until set on top. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto racks to cool completely.
- For Frosting: Combine ½ cup brown sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a small heavy saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes. Mix in cream.
- In a large bowl, beat 3 cups powdered sugar and butter until well blended. Beat in brown sugar mixture. Add in enough additional sugar so that frosting is desired level of sweetness and is a good spreadable consistency.
- Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on a platter or cake stand. Spread with 1 cup of frosting. Top with small pecan brittle pieces. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting on top and sides. Arrange large brittle pieces on top of cake. If not serving right away, store in refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.
Recipe Source: Bon Appetit