Brown Butter Cake with Candied Pecans

Brown Butter Cake with Candied Pecans by Wood and Spoon blog. This is a simple brown sugar mini layer cake with brown butter buttercream and candied pecans throughout. This small batch recipe makes a small layer cake to serve just a few and makes for a festive offering for fall, winter, and holiday celebration desserts. Learn how to candy nuts and stack a naked layer cake on

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This brown butter cake has simple fluffy layers with a brown butter whipped buttercream and candied cinnamon sugar pecans throughout!


For the cake:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 13/4 cups cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the candied pecans:

  • 21/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Diamond of California Pecan Halves

For the buttercream:

  • 11/2 cups unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon milk or heavy cream


To prepare the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease three 6” round pans and cut out parchment paper rounds to fit into the bottom of them. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, canola oil, sugar, and brown sugar until smooth, about a minute and a half. Add the egg and yolk and stir until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and stir in any unincorporated bits. Add half of the cake flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir on low to combine. Add ¼ cup of the milk as well as and vanilla. Stir on low. Add the remaining cake flour and milk and stir on low just until combined. Fold in any unincorporated bits. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake in the middle of the oven for about 22-25 minutes or until the cake has puffed, turned golden, and a toothpick inserted just barely comes out clean. Don’t overbake! Set aside to cool completely.

To prepare the pecans:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, stir together the butter and vanilla and then toss in the pecans. Add the sugar mixture and toss to evenly coat the nuts. Spread the nuts out on the baking pan and bake for about 20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Once dry and aromatic, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve. 

To prepare the buttercream:

  1. In a small saucepan, dice ½ cup (4 ounces) of the butter and place on medium-low heat. Allow the butter to melt, sizzle, and begin to foam, stirring regularly all the way. Once the butter begins to bubble, stay next to the pan, stirring all the while, and watch as the buttercream turns pale golden to a fragrant amber-colored mixture. Remove from heat, being sure not to burn the butter, and place in a heat-safe bowl to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, add the brown butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and add in the remaining butter. Cream on medium speed until smooth, about one minute. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt and stir to combine. Add the cream and whip for 1 minute to fluff up.

To assemble the cake:

  1. Use a serrated knife to trim the domed top off of the cakes. Chop about ¾ cup of the pecans. Add the frosting to a large piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe rounds of frosting all over the top of the first cake and sprinkle pecans on top. Repeat this process with the remaining two layers, stacking the cake as you go. Serve and enjoy!