toasted pecan cake

When it’s quiet around here, it generally means one of two things: 1. I’ve been cooking a series of duds, or certainly nothing good enough to clear my throat into this microphone and sing the praises of. Or 2. We’re heading for another episode of Just What Has Deb Gotten Herself Into This Time (see: any Friendsgiving or wedding cake adventure). A couple weeks ago was the former; last week was resoundingly the latter.

what you'll needgrind toasted pecanswhip egg whiteswhisk whisk

I took over first night Seder (a ceremonial dinner on the first two nights of Passover) duties last year, instituted Harry Potter haggadahs, and it was all going well until I got to planning this year’s meal (seemingly: writing potatoes, carrots, onions, eggs, almonds on a grocery list over and over again), decided we needed to shake up the guest list a little — really, I think I just miss my dad making bad jokes and trying to get us to stick even a tiny bit to the prescribed topic — and suddenly we were 17 (plus a waitlist; “only in the Smitten Kitchen…” a friend said), we definitely didn’t have this many chairs or table space, my fridge and freezer were bursting at the seams (the ice cube tray got evicted), and I haven’t even gotten into the part where a chef came over that morning to teach me a new dish that had nothing to do with Passover (but promise something fun is coming). The whole week was a heady mix of panic and delight. Someone is going to tell me it’s because I’m a Gemini, but truly the only thing that motivates me is being at the edge of a disaster, and that’s where the bulk of this month has vanished to.

add ground nuts and sugarfold in some egg whitesfold in remaining egg whitesbaked

In the middle of this, I made a new, wonderful cake. There are a lot of nutty cakes on this site, macaroon tortes are among my favorite, but also this hazelnut brown butter number, this almond intensity, and this walnut cake, but most of them (macaroons aside) have the gluten- and Passover inconvenience of just a little bit of flour. So when someone pointed me to this almond cake from Joan Nathan (NYT), I liked many things about it: it’s utterly flourless; the ingredient list is short and straightforward (you’re not going to end up with 7 unused egg yolks, hallelujah) and a quick test run told me what we really want to know, which is that it’s spectacularly moist and tender and keeps really well. But if I had to choose between eating an almond and eating a toasted pecan, I would never choose the former. And if I had to choose between eating a cake with vegetable oil over one with browned butter, well, what kind of question is that even. I added some needed salt, used vanilla instead of almond and cardamom, and then I heaped the cake with whipped cream and all of the berries I could find and the result is perfect, toasty, creamy, fresh, and pretty and also approximately the only thing in my kitchen that was calm and running on schedule last week.

whipped creamswooshes of whipped cream

I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday weekend, however you celebrate, and I’m super happy to be back to my regularly scheduled nonsense, when cooking food in less than 10-pound quantities feels like a vacation.

toasted pecan cake

If you’re curious, this was roughly my Friday night Seder menu:
(If there’s no link, it’s not from an existing recipe, here or elsewhere.)
* Herb and Garlic Baked Camembert (my SIL made it from Smitten Kitchen Every Day)
* The Roumanian Steakhouse-Style Chopped Liver also in SKED, but I blended it and made a few tweaks, thus I owe you a new recipe. (Note: Wild Mushroom Pâté in the archives is a great vegetarian alternative)
* Charoset: Ashkenazi (my mom makes it) and Sephardic-style
* Gefilte Fish (my mother-in-law makes it)
* Matzo Ball Soup (psst, there’s a vegetarian one in SKED as well)
* Homemade horseradish
* Potato Kugel
* Harissa-Roasted Carrots
* Cold Asparagus Salad with a variation on this almond pesto, minus the parmesan
* Maya’s Sweet and Sour High Holiday Brisket (from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)
* Chocolate Caramel Crackers
* Mini-Pavlovas with Lemon Curd, Whipped Cream and Berries (reminiscent of the lemon meringue smash in SKED, but inspired by the look of these beauties, although mine were not)


One year ago: Fig Newtons and Cripsy Tofu Pad Thai
Two years ago: Granola Bark
Three years ago: Caramelized Brown Sugar Oranges with Yogurt and Potato Pizza, Even Better
Four years ago: Why You Should Always Toast Your Nuts (Please!) and Obsessively Good Avocado-Cucumber Salad
Five years ago: Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons and Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms
Six years ago: Spinach and Smashed Egg Toast and Bee Sting Cake
Seven years ago: Over-the-Top Mushroom Quiche and Banana Bread Crepe Cake with Butterscotch
Eight years ago: Blackberry and Coconut Macaroon Tart
Nine years ago: Baked Kale Chips and Almond Macaroon Torte with Chocolate Frosting
Ten years ago: Artichoke-Olive Crostini and Chocolate Caramel Crackers
Eleven years ago: Spring Panzanella and Lemon Yogurt Anything Cake
Twelve years ago: Arborio Rice Pudding and Gnocchi with a Grater

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Even More Perfect Apple Pie
1.5 Years Ago: Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
2.5 Years Ago: Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup and Skillet Baked Pasta with Five Cheeses
3.5 Years Ago: My Old-School Baked Ziti and Cannoli Pound Cake
4.5 Years Ago: Better Chocolate Babka and Fall-Toush Salad

Toasted Pecan Cake

I don’t have cup measurement for pecans or pecan meal because it’s just too inconsistent. (Every cup of nuts will weight something different depending on size and how many are broken and nut meal is even more inconsistent as you can just pack and pack it, the weight getting higher and higher.) I don’t want to mess this cake up for you with estimates. If you don’t have a scale, please simply buy 1 pound (455 grams) and do your best to estimate what removing 1/16 would look like (picture: 1/4, then 1/4 of that removed). Even if you’re a smidge off, it will still be more accurate than cups here.

If you’d like to make this cake dairy-free, just use 1/2 cup vegetable or another neutral oil.

  • 15 ounces (420 grams) whole or chopped pecans, or pecan meal/flour
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 9 tablespoons (130 grams) unsalted butter, plus additional for pan
  • 7 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or the seeds from half a bean
  • Whipped cream and berries, for garnish, if you wish

Heat oven: To 350 degrees F. Oil or butter a 9-inch round pan and set aside. I lined mine with parchment for easier removal. While I don’t expect it to stick much if you don’t use parchment, I always think we’re better safe than sorry.

If you’re starting with whole or chopped pecans, toast them: Spread nuts in one layer on a sheet tray. Toast for 10 minutes, tossing once midway so that they cook evenly. They should smell nutty and appear one shade darker. Let them cool completely before using. You can hasten this along in the fridge or freezer.

Grind your pecans: Once they’re cool, grind the nuts with sugar and salt in a food processor or high-speed blender until finely chopped, but stop before they seem to glue together (i.e. become a nut butter). Set aside.

Brown your butter: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir occasionally, then frequently as it begins to take on color, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute. As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color and smell, remove from heat and pour into a large bowl to cool. You can hasten this along in the fridge or freezer, but keep an eye on it in the freezer especially, as you don’t want it solidified.

Beat egg whites: Until they form stiff peaks, but not beyond this point, when they might seem to have a dry and crumbly foam. Set them aside.

At last, assemble the cake batter: Add egg yolks and vanilla to the cooled browned butter in the large bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Stir in pecan-sugar-salt mixture, or, if you’re starting with pecan meal/flour, stir it in along with the granulated sugar and salt. The batter will be very thick.

Add 1/3 of the whipped egg whites and stir to combine; this will help loosen the batter so it’s easier to add the remaining whites. Add the remaining egg whites and gently, carefully fold them into the pecan mixture, trying not to deflate the egg whites.

Pour into prepared cake pan and smooth top.

Bake the cake: Until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from the pan and let finish cooling on a rack.

To finish: I swirled mine with 1 cup of heavy cream plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, softly whipped, and piled it with berries and a few chopped pecans. It could also be finished simply, with just a dusting of powdered sugar.

Do ahead: Cake keeps for 5 to 6 days in the fridge. Without cream, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but if you’d like to have it more than 3 days, I think it less prone to going bad if chilled.

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161 comments on toasted pecan cake

      1. Eve

        What about ground walnuts for those of us with spouses who are verboten to eat almonds or pecans, but can do walnuts in moderation?

  1. stephie

    This is almost the exact same recipe as Nana José’s Chocolate Pecan Cake from NYT cooking. I made it for my family’s seder this weekend. Its seriously delicious.

    1. deb

      Interesting — I just Googled it and I think they’re very different cakes, however. It uses melted chocolate, and no separated eggs. It looks very thin, rich, and decadent. And it only has 1 cup (probably 4 ounces) of pecans. It seems more like a classic flourless chocolate cake with some pecans in it?

      1. stephie

        Apolgies! After I posted I totally realized they weren’t the same. Doh! My reading comprehension is rough :) This cake sounds delish though and I will definetly put it on the list to make. The choco pecan one is good too if you ever need a tasty torte.

          1. Kelly

            Just scoured every shop in the neighborhood looking for whipping cream only to finally read that you use heavy cream! Any reason/difference?

            So excited to try the actual cake, the batter taste like butter pecan ice cream! Yum!

            Thanks xx

            1. deb

              Both can be used for whipped cream. They should be about the same, many brands use the terms interchangeably, but sometimes whipping-specific cream can have extra stabilizers in it, which I don’t care for. I pretty much just buy heavy cream.

              1. Ken

                I am just an everyday cook but i think there can be a fair difference between heavy cream and ‘whipping cream’. Difference Between Heavy Cream and Whipping Cream 1.Heavy Cream is a special dairy product that is made out of the top most layer… 2.Heavy cream contains about 38-40% of fat whereas whipping cream has just 30 to 36% of fat content.
                So in reality there can be a 30% fat content difference between heavy and ‘whipping cream’
                I never use ‘whipping’ cream if I can avoid it.

                1. deb

                  The terms are often used interchangeably but whipping cream is more likely (although in some brands, they both do) likely to have stabilizers that help it whip that I do not care for because it can give them a waxier taste. I only buy heavy cream, which whips fine.

                  1. Nan

                    Ken is right. The FDA defines heavy cream as having at least 36% fat content. Whipping cream can have as little as 30%. Either can have stabilizers; it may depend on the brand. The terms cannot be used interchangeably. The term “heavy whipping cream” is sometimes used for heavy cream, probably just to make sure people realize that heavy cream can be whipped.

      2. StephanieZ

        Deb, I know you looked at the recipe a couple years ago, but you should think about making Nana José’s Chocolate Pecan Cake one year for passover or just because. It is truly fantastic… though I’d love to see if you could even make a better take. I’ll be giving your pecan cake a try this year for passover, though its always hard for me to pass up anything with chocolate.

  2. We had pavlova for our first night seder, too! So many people (on the internet today) thanked me for something besides a flourless chocolate cake to enjoy during the rest of Passover. We had some major nut allergies at our seder, so even the charoset was nut-free, but now I’m free to put nuts in anything I want. And luckily enough, I have a brand-new bag of pecans to use for the holiday. Chag Sameach, Deb. Hope you’re enjoying the spring.

  3. sallyt

    this looks great! Maybe I’ll make this for my much delayed second seder.

    For dessert, I made macarons (HUGE hit, and so good) and your caramelized chocolate covered matzoh. I just brought in the leftover caramelized chocolate covered matzoh to my seminar students, and they were blown away by it –

  4. Brian

    Have you considered creating and sharing vegan alternative recipes for each of your creations? You would have a fan following for life if you can branch out into this area!!!

    1. deb

      Absolutely, where possible. But a 7-egg cake with no flour whose structure entirely comes from eggs would be a challenge. Do check the Vegan recipe archives here.

  5. Jessie

    The cake looks wonderful, of course, but I’m mystified by the homemade gefilte fish! How does it compare to the jarred? Also, I miss seeing the Pickle Guys make their horseradish in a blender out on the street because it’s too potent to make indoors!

  6. Anna

    Would you recommend making a layer cake out of this, with the whipped cream filling? Or would the cake layers be too dense for the light whip cream? I’d love to turn this into a layered birthday cake.

    1. deb

      No, I think it would be nice. The layers are solid, but not dry, if that helps. I might keep them thin, though. Perhaps 2 yields for 3 layers, or even 1.5 yields for 3 thin layers. I don’t usually like splitting layers with a knife, it always leads to me making a mess or wrecking the cake, but I do think this cake would split well.

  7. Anna

    Looks delicious. As someone who is always interested in but intimidated by expanding my Seder, how did you handle lack of sufficient tables, chairs, silverware, etc? thanks!

    1. deb

      We have a 4-person table we can add two panels to, which is supposed to bring it to 8 but we find it fine for 10. We have 4 regular chairs and then keep 6! Ikea wooden folding chairs under and behind our sofa. We have 6 more Ikea plastic chairs outside around the patio table that we clean off and bring inside if needed. We borrowed a folding card table from my in-laws. As for dishes, always buy more than you need! Nobody asked but I don’t think anyone should register for fewer than 16 sets (I’d rather get cheaper plates than not have enough), and if you can go higher, to 18 or 20, it will help you account for inevitable breakage without worrying that your pattern will be discontinued (they always are). We replaced our silverware a few years ago and I got 20 sets; everyone said I was crazy but you tell me where all of those forks walk to! (I mostly just really don’t want to resort to using disposable plastic if I can avoid it.) Okay, I think I have a lot more advice where this came from and will have to stop at some point but another thing that’s been a big help is buying inexpensive, small dessert plates. This means that we can use big plates for dinner, small plates for apps/salad, and still have enough plates over for dessert. I have these (they’re very small but also very easy to store).

      1. Charlotte in Toronto

        Some gave me this same advice years ago – always buy more than you think you’ll need. I did, and have never regretted it. I chose plain white dishes that I hopped would never go out of style and a multitude of white serving pieces. And I think food looks better on white. Best advice ever!🍷

    2. renee

      I had this problem a couple of years ago, and for the dishes and silverware, the Dollar Tree is a lifesaver. Their dishes are perfectly presentable and each one is a dollar (and then if you want to keep separate dishes for Pesach, there you go).

    3. Monica

      I did the same thing, I was even more exagerated. I have 48 big plates and 48 salad plates (they are small enough to double as dessert, 24 regular dessert). I am not worried if they brake, not worried if we have a lot of people, they are white, round, classic, can pair it with anything, any color, same with the silverware and glasses. And they dont take a lot of space, which is something people usually are scared about. You probably have more space taken over disposables all around.

      1. Nicole

        Another work around for storage is that my friend and I each bought the same inexpensive white dishes to use as extras. We share whenever we are having larger parties. It’s been great!

  8. I think I’ve commented this before, but the brisket and latke recipes from the SK cookbook are *my* brisket and latke recipes and now those things are the things that taste like holidays to me and my family, and I think of you, and how that must be a perhaps unforeseen benefit of writing a cookbook- you made my family’s memories! So, thank you :)

  9. Susan S

    You did not link to your Matzo ball soup recipe, or the link is not working. I know you have one because I make it often. I had never made it before seeing your recipe. It is my go-to comfort and healing soup.

  10. Alison

    Many thanks! I needed a different Passover dessert. Harry Potter Haggadahs? You New Yorkers are lucky….only about 5 Jewish families in my area.

  11. Carol

    This recipe looks delicious, and I think I’d prefer it to the almond cake that our temple is making for our community Seder. Alas, I will never be able to serve it for our family Seder, as our children have tantrums like 2 year olds if I don’t serve Joan Nathan’s chocolate soufflé roll (known in our family as “mocha cake roll”). It really is fantastic, but with a total of 9 eggs, 10oz. Dark chocolate, a stick of butter, strong coffee, and a cup of sugar it’s not especially low cal or stress free! 😊

  12. Speaking of your Roumanian Steakhouse-style chopped liver, I made that a couple of weeks ago, and it was the absolute best chopped liver I have ever eaten. I actually got 4 cups out of your recipe instead of 2, don’t know why, and had to EAT IT ALL MYSELF as the rest of my family (except the dog, upon whom I was not about to waste it) are grossed out by chopped liver. It was so, so, so good on rye toast with salted and peppered tomatoes on top.

  13. Monica

    Can I just use a combination of almond and pecans? maybe I dont have enough pecans, and here in venezuela I cannot find them. Should work just fine right? same weight?

  14. Christine

    Deb- I always knew you were my internet twin but now it’s sealed…I am also a Gemini. I entertain exactly like you. I love the bustle and the people and the whole thing just makes me happy. Except for the 10 minutes before everyone arrives where I threaten to murder my husband and my kids know to hide in their rooms. Can’t wait to try this cake.

  15. Susanne

    I served your clementine cake for the second night. It was a huge hit and a nice counterpoint to the inevitable chocolate torte someone else brought. This one looks great, too, and will be a nice addition to the repertoire for my dad, who has celiac.

  16. Tanya

    Well your timing couldn’t be anymore perfect. I am throwing a tea party on Saturday where I am trying to make sure their are gluten free options for my gluten free folks. This cake means I can make one spectacular dessert that everybody can eat! The best part is that since it is one of your cakes, I know it will be amazing.

    1. Jenna

      How long does the cake stay good for topped with whipped cream? Does the cake get soggy? Or should we top individual slices with the whip cream for better storage? Thank you

  17. Rebecca RK

    We’ll make this cake while I’m waiting for my rectangular tart pan to arrive (for your berry coconut tart). Love your Seder menu. Your Miso-Maple ribs recipe from SKED was what I used for the sliced beef (chuck roast, brisket never cooperates for me) and it was spectacular. I know miso won’t work for everyone, but for those that it would, it’s amazing. I will have to make your matzah balls, I bet they are just as easy as the box and even tastier. Thank you Deb!

  18. Linda Sterling

    I make your tangy brisket every year for Passover (and Rosh Hashanah!). Everyone loves it and there’s always someone who asks for the recipe. I’d love to get your spin on gefilte fish. I make an excellent fish terrine/loaf, with fresh ground pike and whitefish, and a line of carrots down the middle. So easy, so delicious, and it makes it impossible to go back to the storebought kind in that disgusting jelly. Would you care to see if you can improve on it (although it’s so good already but I know you can make it better)? It would improve the lives of everyone who celebrates Passover!!

  19. Robin

    I make something very similar to this called an Earth Apple Torte. This difference with this recipe is the addition of a baked russet potato, nutmeg and cinnamon and no butter. It’s topped with raspberry preserves. It took some temperature fiddling but eventually got the right setting to make it evenly moist. I call it breakfast cake to get my girls to eat it (it’s healthy, right?) and I love the way my family is shocked how delicious it is after I tell them it’s made with a potato! I’m going to try yours to compare!

    1. Pam

      Seeing as this cake is mostly nuts, butter, and egg I thought it would be easy to make it Keto. I subbed 1/2 cup Erythritol and some applesauce for the sugar, and I scaled back a little on both the egg yolks and whites due to the extra liquid. I ended up having enough batter for two 8” pans. It’s very tasty even without sugar. My daughter told me that my husband ate 4 pieces! Only thing I don’t like about this recipe is all the bowls and dishes you use.

  20. Yay for Geminis! I too work best under the prospect of disaster. Sometimes I shock myself at what I’m capable of when the heat is on. Otherwise, I’m lackadaisical at best. I almost have no in between!

  21. JP

    Shoot, and here I figured you were on an amazing vacations somewhere that would make us all jealous! I love cakes that are based on nuts. This is a pretty European thing to do. They often substitute ground nuts for flour, actually, but more often hazelnuts or almonds. Pecans are only found in our country, I believe. I wish I could find a good place to buy inexpensive pecans…we get them at COSTCO as it is, but the price has at least doubled in the last few years. My understanding is that China is buying up our pecans! Thanks for the lovely cake!

  22. Claire

    This sounds like a Southern girl’s dream. How do you think it would be with vanilla ice cream and homemade caramel sauce? (I am a true Southerner and pecan lover; my mom always keeps a pound of pecans in her freezer and as a kid I used to get in trouble for sneaking frozen pecans.)

  23. I’ve made cakes similar to this. Some variations I’ve tried and liked:

    Instead of pecan: mixture of buckwheat flour, unsweetened coconut “flour” and almond meal in roughly equal parts.

    Using a proportion of flavorful honey in place of sugar

    Brown butter

  24. Deb

    Chag Sameach Pesach, Deb. You were missed, and I’m glad it was for something good.This looks fabulous. My Passover dessert was fresh blueberries and strawberries layered between homemade Meyer lemon curd. Delish!

  25. Ali

    I can’t wait to make this! It’s one of my colleagues’ birthdays this week and she is currently on a low FODMAP diet and this – apart from the cream on top, unless I can find some lactose-free whipping cream which is eluding me in Australia – ticks all the very restrictive boxes for that diet. Thanks again for all your delicious, failproof recipes.

  26. Julia

    I made this tonight–delicious! Halved everything by weight and baked it in a six inch round tin, which was perfect for our household of two. I realized when I got home from the store that I had done my math wrong and shorted myself 1.5 oz of pecans, so I subbed in almonds for the rest. Baked for 32 minutes–I think it should have gone for the full 35 given in the recipe. Served with vanilla ice cream, and so, so, good.

  27. gmosco

    I just made this cake today. It is so good! Can’t eat just one piece! Something totally different from a flourless chocolate cake or coconut macaroons.
    Only problem I had was getting it out of the pan. Could one use parchment paper to line the pan?

    1. jjjeanie

      Hi Gmosco–I use parchment almost always, no matter what the recipe says (and if it’s just for cookies, I reuse it several times without ill effect). When the parchment is too brittle to bake with (or after one sticky cake), I use it to line my compost bucket!

  28. Alison Bell

    Holy cow. That is good. I just made this and couldn’t even wait until the family got home to try a piece. So I gobbled a piece before it even cooled completely. I made it with a mix of pecans (mostly) and almonds because that’s what I had on hand. Divine.

  29. Rebecca

    I made the original NYT cake for our first night Seder this year, along with your Passover brisket! Both were a hit. I did top the almond cake with a thin glaze spiked with orange zest. I’ll have to try this pecan brown butter version next year!

  30. Caren

    Can you please share the recipe for the homemade horseradish?

    A family friend brought the Zabar’s horseradish to my parent’s house, but alas, I do not live in NY and am now seeking a horseradish recipe.

    And a gefilte fish recipe would be appreciated also, if you are willing to take that on.

    Thanks for all of your rockstar Passover recipes!

  31. Jacs

    I made this with oil and a mix of nuts from the pantry. Tastes great warm from the oven. Next time I will buy pecans and butter, I expect it will be even better.

  32. Aylah

    I made this as written and it was AMAZING. I topped it with homemade whipped cream and fresh strawberries, my whole family loved it and was shocked to hear it’s flourless! Deb, I have been following your blog for 6 years now and your recipes have turned me into a wonderful cook, thank you!

  33. Eliza

    This was the perfect cake for the last day of Passover! I served it with our own cajeta and it was delicious. It did create quite a few dirty dishes but I am used to making big messes in the kitchen. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Eliza

      I FORGOT the butter! I put in the freezer for a quick cool down and forgot to put it in the cake. I have a head cold and a super foggy brain, so… oops! I am sure that this cake is even better with the butter but I am surprised how much we liked it without the butter. I will definitely have to make it again.

  34. Matt

    This looks lovely, but just have to chime in with how much I relate to this statement:

    “…truly the only thing that motivates me is being at the edge of a disaster…”

    Story. Of. My. Life.

  35. Jenna

    I made this as written and something was a little off with the taste, couldn’t put my finger on it. Maybe the butter? Maybe the sweet-salty ratio? It had a nice texture for a Passover cake and I like not ending up with lots of egg yolks. But this is one of the few times (only time?) I’ve been disappointed by something on smitten kitchen. Served with homemade cinnamon ice cream (I had 7 egg yolks from another cake.)

    1. Betsey

      Most likely rancid nuts. Nuts have oil, some more than others and that oil goes bad at some point. I always smell and taste nuts before using them. I have purchased rancid nuts several times. Some people don’t notice, bit I’m very sensitive to racidity.

  36. Allison

    I’d like to make this for someone who can’t have much granulated sugar. So, I’m looking for a substitute. Do you think coconut sugar would work? Or maybe honey? I’m open to other suggestions as well. Thanks!

    1. deb

      I haven’t tried it with other sweeteners, but I think it has potential to work. It’s more likely to affect color, texture, and baking time.

  37. sallyt

    This was delicious! I made as is – it needed the full 35 minutes to bake. I’d probably halve it next time and bake in an 8″ pan – it’s a LOT of cake (which isn’t necessarily a problem!)

  38. Megan

    I made this over the weekend – it turned out great! It’s light but firm and lots of texture from the nuts. I served whipped cream, berries on the side for a non-dairy guest. My 3 girls loved it! Yum

  39. This was amazingly moist and delicious. I made it in two 8-inch cake pans and made it into a layer cake, and put in a 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon in the batter (I ran out of vanilla) to give it a little sumpin’-sumpin’. The cake lasted barely a weekend at my house!

    1. Jenny M.

      I have been a huge smitten kitchen fan over 10 years and have never ever commented on here. Over the years I have found your recipes, Deb, immensely scrumptiously reliable. You truly understand the science of food in every way.

      Today I baked this and… HELLO DOLLY!!! UTTERLY DELICIOUS. My husband and I swooned eating this. Btw this should be eaten with a scoop of salted carmel ice cream or gelato. To die for.

      THANK YOU for making such an incredible gf cake without xanthum gum or expensive gf flours. For allergy reasons a few years ago I had to stop eating beloved flour..but this simple recipe brought me back to my baking hey days when I used to bake with abandon. Thank you Deb!☺️

  40. Rocky Mountain Woman

    I get myself into those crazy cooking for 50 people things all the time! And I love every minute of it!

    This cake looks seriously wonderful.

  41. missgwyn

    This one’s definitely a keeper! My husband is a “nut man” so I try just about anything that’s heavy on the nuts, pecans in particular. The cake was simple to make and absolutely delicious. We have a friend who is seriously gluten intolerant so anytime I can come up with something that he can eat and it tastes awesome, I consider it a win-win.

  42. Jordan

    I’m looking to make some loaf cakes for a breakfast event and this looks perfect– but do you think the recipe would adapt well to 1-2 loaf tins as opposed to an 8″ round?

    1. Lindsay C

      I did some (Covid-19) baking and had to make due with some things on hand. I used a standard bread pan, at same temp for about 40 min. Tester came out clean, but middle was a little underdone.
      Didn’t have enough pecans, so subbed the last 30 grams with almonds.
      Next time, I will make sure all the nuts are finely ground. No big deal to have some chunks, but think a smoother final cake/loaf would be nice.

  43. Diana

    Two small typos to fix: “microphone and sing (not sign) the praises of” and “it’s (not its) utterly flourless”
    As always, this recipe looks divine. I know my pecan-loving dad will devour it.

  44. I’ve been looking for a new nutty cake to try, and the children have taken a liking to Pecans lately, this looks delicious, so I may give it a try, 5-6 days in the fridge sounds great, although I doubt any cake would last that long in this house!

  45. Wow. I love everything with pecans! I cannot wait to try this recipe. I do well with cakes and think I will be able to tackle this one :) I think I will make it for Mother’s Day!

  46. Oh goodness, this looks incredible! My lovely other half happens to be Mississippi born and bred so Pecans are a HUGE hit with him. He is going to love this one! Thanks for sharing this.

  47. pattimorrow

    I don’t like cakes with overly sweet frosting. This pecan cake looks incredible and something I’d like!

  48. Jane C

    Made this cake yesterday for a friend that is medically required to be gluten free. Followed your directions to a T and it came out beautifully!!! To sweeten my whipped cream I added maple syrup and nearly the entire cake was eaten that evening by all. Just had a reheated slice this evening and it was still fluffy and moist! It is a touch labor intensive and I found I used a lot of bowls, but it was a fairly easy cake to make- definitely worth the effort for someone who can’t usually eat regular cake! Thank you!

  49. This cake was unbelievable. No one would ever have guessed that it was gluten free. The flavors were beautiful: browned butter & pecans complimented perfectly with whipped cream and berries. What a smashing success.

  50. Gelfo

    Made this cake last weekend (sub coconut sugar). Slight disaster – pulled it out of the oven too soon at 35 min (was leaving the house), and the center was under done (way under done). The edges tasted good but couldn’t convince my wife to eat it. Was about to crumble some of the under done parts in with granola I was making, but decided instead to make it in to a bread pudding. Huge success!!! This cake tastes amazing as a bread pudding, too!!! Dice in to cubes, add 2 pkg frozen cherries (if I’d had raspberries that would have been better, I think). Pour in custard (6 eggs, 1 cu half/half, 1 tbs vanilla, 1/4 cu maple syrup, large pinch of salt. Bake till set. WOW, so many raves!!!!

  51. Sarah

    Deb, this cake is wonderful! I made it for my son’s eleven month “birthday” cake…i.e. an excuse for mom and dad to eat cake monthly ;) I’m hoping to make a filled layer cake for his 1 year birthday cake, maybe using different nuts for each layer (thinking maybe a pecan plus a hazelnut or pistachio layer). Given how moist this cake is, do you think it would work okay layers or would it sink?

  52. Jonathan

    Hi – if I would use two 6″ cake pans for this would I decrease the time to bake? if so, by what? 10-15min? Thanks for having another gluten free recipe.

  53. Brandi

    I made this last night with TJ’s pre-ground almond flour/meal (I didn’t have pecans or time to toast them) and it was great! Served it with vanilla ice cream and sliced strawberries and it was a big hit. Highly recommend.

  54. placidum2015

    i’ve made it twice, the second time with slightly reduced sugar. Absolutely fabulous both times. The texture is a welcome relief from cakey cakes. This one is soul satisfying. Can anyone help me with the modifications to sweeten with honey? Thank you in advance!

  55. jjjeanie

    I made this for our 4th of July BBQ yesterday, and decorated it with stripes of whipped cream, stripes of raspberries, and blueberries in a corner to suggest the flag. Served with extras of all those elements. No leftovers. I may have chopped the nuts not quite enough, but I kinda liked the texture that imparted (even though some of my fussy family didn’t–but that didn’t stop them from having seconds). I may have also under-browned the butter, and it still didn’t matter. Just Delicious!

  56. E

    I would like to ask if anyone has tried this as cupcakes? The reason I ask is I’d like to give it a go with a half batch of batter but I dont have cake pans smaller than 9″. It would be great to get any thoughts/insights on a cupcaked version.

  57. rfguy

    “If you’re curious, this was roughly my Friday night Seder menu:”
    As it turned out, I *was* interested, for a couple of reasons. I can’t imagine a menu you come up with being something another would have a problem. Consider putting more of the spontaneous one out there…

  58. Emily

    How does this cake compare to the Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake? I love that cake so much but don’t always manage to use up the leftover egg yolks. Is this cake much denser? Thank you!

  59. Ellen

    I found this cake underwhelming. It didn’t have the potency that a similar almond cake would offer. Maybe I should have ground the pecans just another pulse or two? I also wonder if dark brown sugar instead of granulated white sugar would enrich the flavor.

    1. placidum2015

      Rebecca, i absolutely think so. This was originally adapted from almonds, i believe. i have used a variety of nut blends to good success.

  60. Needed a last minute recipe using what I had on hand for tonight’s zoom seder and this recipe fit the bill! Used almond meal instead of pecans and only had 12oz of almond meal instead of 15oz so reduced everything by a little. baking is a science but I’m sure it will still taste delicious. In the oven now, thanks for always having terrific recipes that are easy and adaptable!

  61. Liz

    So easy and delicious. Followed the recipe exactly as is and definitely a nice alternative to the regular flourless chocoloate cakes normally served at Passover.
    Definitely needs the cream, although I don’t add sugar to it because the cake is sweet enough. Topped with cream and fresh berries

  62. Kathleen

    This was so delicious! I messed up a few things (over-whipped the egg whites a bit, over processed the pecans into almost-pecan butter), but it still came together beautifully – everyone had seconds! Served with whipped cream and lightly-sweetened strawberries. I baked it in two 6″ round pans and froze both before serving – I love a 6 inch cake as the perfect size for 4-6 people after a dinner party. I also think this could turn into a 2-layer (or 4-layer!) 6″ cake, since the layers are quite thick and would be easy to split – I might do that next time. Thanks for the great recipe!

  63. Les

    Holy cow- this is an awesome cake! I followed the recipe exactly- I even copied the berries and pecans on top. My family (almost!) ate the whole thing. Thank you Deb- this was a sophisticated, lovely (gluten free!) cake. You (as always!) rock.

  64. Janice

    Made exactly as written and this is a solid 4 out of 5 stars. As someone with Celiac, I’m always looking for gluten free recipes…I avoid the flour replacements and almond flour can get kind of old, so this was a welcome change. I felt this was a wee bit on the bland side and maybe a bit of spice (cardamom??) might liven it up a bit. Husband thinks a maple whipped cream topping is what’s needed. Either way – good solid recipe going in the keeper folder. Thanks for sharing!

  65. Rebecca

    I’ve made this several times and it’s always turned out great! It’s very similar to my Austrian immigrant family’s nusstorte (although if you google nusstorte, you get a different, Swiss recipe – have to google “walnut torte” to get the thing that’s actually similar). Main difference is no butter (which has the advantage of making it dairy-free if that’s important). My mom loves it because she’s gluten-free and it’s a cake from her family’s history she can actually eat. Inspired by this recipe, when my mom requested nusstorte for her birthday this year, I did a mix of walnuts and pecans (instead of straight walnuts) and toasted them first!

  66. Anne

    Hi Deb
    Can I freeze this cake (without topping of course)? Just came out of the oven for dinner on Sunday. Afraid it may dry out in the fridge but we are getting vaccines on Friday so trying to have everything ready in advance.

  67. Michael Fisher

    The almond cake recipe is one of my favorites, even though I too substitute at least one item, vanilla. Probably the best vanilla extract I’ve found is from Mexico. Although a step in the right direction however if I put vanilla beans into a small jar of some good (VSOP) Cognac the results are a mind bending tongue twister, and inhaling it slowly also clears the sinuses quite well. Since, this has been my delightful substitute for vanilla. Notably, I also pour a snifter of Cognac for the cook to further enhance the experience. Worst of all worlds, and you find the Cognac a bit overwhelming as a good kick, you can always serve the elixir as a “refined” after dinner, sans the vanilla beans,. Makes for a very good evening.

  68. Diane

    I can’t wait to make this cake.

    Can this cake be made into mini muffins? Would love to serve something small during the egg hunt before lunch.

    1. deb

      I haven’t made them as muffins but I definitely think you could. Same temperature and check the bake time very early (even at 10 minutes) as I bet they’ll bake up fast.

  69. Sarah

    Hi! I have two questions:
    1) Can I reduce the sugar and/or sub in applesauce? Would I reduce the egg if I subbed in something liquidy like that?
    2) I saw someone asked about muffins/cupcakes. Would love to hear if anyone has had success with this!

  70. Margaret

    I doubled this recipe for Easter. Delicious! A few notes:
    -don’t try to fit this into smaller pans. Mine are 9” and I was nervous when I peeked in the oven (but nothing spilled over)
    -14 egg whites DO fit in a Kitchenaid stand mixer! But I had to do the nut-sugar-salt mix in two batches in the food processor.
    -I used about 80% pecans and 20% almond flour. I spaced and forgot the vanilla, I missed it of course but it certainly didn’t ruin the cake

    I consider myself a beginner baker. This recipe was great because it requires a little “extra” with browning the butter, whipping egg whites, but the instructions are easy to follow. Thank you, Deb!

  71. Sarah

    So…answering my own questions since I’ve now made this. On sugar substitutes/reduction…I used 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1/4 cup honey and took out an egg. I threw two TBSPs real sugar with the salt into the pecans before blending. This worked really well!
    On making cupcakes…I made this in a mini cupcake tin (It made 48 minis). Cooked for 20 minutes, and maybe it could have gone a few minutes more?

  72. Bonnie Kramer

    I plan to make the toasted pecan cake this weekend. Advice, please about subbing whipped fresh ricotta for the heavy cream topping. Any reason not to?

  73. Karen

    This moist cake was fabulous with a chocolate glaze too. Probably didn’t hurt that I poked holes with a toothpick and drizzled on 2 shots of grand mariner before applying the glaze :-)

  74. Katy Ionis

    Delicious! I reduced sugar to 160g, otherwise did everything as written and it was a hit with the whole family, and most importantly with the 1 year old whose birthday party it was – her first cake!

  75. Tasia

    Currently making the pecan cake, tangy brisket and (tomorrow morning) the potato kugel for my first passover meal! We will be celebrating a day late but I’m so excited to try all of your recipes. Thank you so much!

  76. Jackie

    Lovely recipe — we just had it last night at our seder. The toasted nuts and brown butter give it such a nice cozy fall smell and flavor. We just had it plain but if (more like when) I make it again I will definitely add the whipped cream and berries.

  77. Liz B.

    This was a great dessert for Passover! I’ve now made it twice and found that 175 g sugar is the sweet spot – 160 g was a tiny bit low/bland. Both times I did a chocolate glaze (the one for the SK chocolate olive oil cake) and it goes beautifully with the pecans.
    The batter is crazy thick though and it was a little difficult to fold in all the egg whites without deflating them, but well worth the trouble.

  78. Nicole

    Oh my goodness this cake was simply divine. I followed the recipe as is and loved every bite! Thank you for a gluten free cake that is delicious. My husband and kids were also fans, so we will be making this more!!

  79. Jennie

    OH EM GEE!
    I made this delicious cake for Easter Dinner, it was easy to put together and delivered on serious pecan flavour. Loved everything about it and will definitely make it again and again. Thanks for another great recipe Deb xo

  80. Diana Seropian

    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! I made it with Monkfruit type sugar because like this it is super Keto. The cake came out absolutely wonderful. For sure this will be one of our new favorites!

    1. Diana

      i used the keto sugar! there are lots of brands out there, usually monk fruit mixed with Erythritol. I despise Stevia and other such sweeteners, but these work perfect for me. Brought this lovely cake to a gathering and everyone raved about it.

  81. Debbie

    Deb, can I add chunks of apples -or smaller pieces – to this, or will they sink to the bottom? Maybe thin slices on too?

    1. deb

      I’m not sure if they will sink without trying it, but it seems possible. Thin slices on top could be lovely. You could even try to make an upside-down style cake with it.

  82. E

    Hello this cake looks delicious. I’m wondering if it could be layered and filled with lemon curd but I’m not sure how the flavors would blend?

    1. deb

      It probably wouldn’t be my first choice for lemon curd (which might drown out the brown butter toastiness) but it wouldn’t be bad or anything. Curd tends to sink into cakes if there isn’t a bit of frosting or another barrier below it.

      1. E

        Thanks for your response. I’ve had my eye on this cake and I’m happy it is gluten free. I’ll make it with whipped cream as you recommend. Any suggestions for a plain gluten free cake that will complement a lemon cream filling?
        Love your work 😋

  83. Jessica Selca

    This is incredibly random but I have been following you my entire adult life. All of my firsts with my mixer in my first apartment came from this wonderful blog. I catered a friend’s wedding with a dessert bar with all recipes from your blog and have leaned on it to help me grow as a baker and a cook. I just realized today part of what makes me feel more confident cooking or baking a recipe of yours is that your instructions are thorough and clear. I have made brown butter many times with mixed results but this is the first time I made it per your instructions and laying out the time between browning and burning made all the difference for me. I am not sure I have ever left a comment which feels like a crime. Thank you for your years of wonderful recipes, stunning pictures and sharing some of your life with us. I think I took how wonderful your writing is for granted but the descriptions of the recipes as well as the personal anecdotes are such an enjoyable read and the instructions are so clear and useful. Feels like you are a mentor I never met and I am sure you have touched so many other lives in a similar way. Just appreciation/gushing post.