As I mentioned in a previous post, I love to research and make regional recipes, but I have to admit that I also have a thing for New Orleans and Mardi Gras. That led me to start making King Cakes (possible future post) a number of years ago and to host Mardi Gras parties for as many as eighteen people for several years. We’ve had a lot going on this year, so I wasn’t planning anything for Fat Tuesday 2017. Then last Sunday, my brother and sister-in-law mentioned that the demolition phase of their kitchen remodel was starting on Tuesday so I invited them to come for dinner and I just couldn’t stop myself from planning a Mardi Gras dinner for four because I’ll take any excuse to plan a special menu and look for appropriate recipes. We started with Hurricane cocktails, pickled okra, and buttery herbed saltine crackers (watch for a future post). A salad made with hearts of palm and artichokes with lemon vinaigrette followed. Our entree was crawfish etouffee over brown rice with New Orleans-style French bread (the bread is another future post). And we finished the evening enjoying this luscious Louisiana crunch cake with pecans and coconut–the perfect dessert with cups of strong coffee.
I just have to share this recipe with you; seriously, it’s one of the best cake recipes ever. Louisiana crunch cake is traditionally made with coconut, but I’ve updated this beloved Southern treat with brown sugar, pecans, and pecan liqueur to give it rich caramel notes and flavor reminiscent of pralines.
After starting your oven, the next step in making this cake is to brush your Bundt pan with solid shortening then sprinkle sugar all over it so the cake will release easily from the pan, doing this also gives the cake the tiniest little bit of a crust. I use a paintbrush with fairly stiff bristles that I bought just for this purpose so I can get the shortening into all the crevices. I’ve found that non-stick spray doesn’t work very well when I’m using a Bundt pan; the sugar (or flour, for other recipes) needs something more substantial to stick to. After you have an even coating of shortening and sugar, you’ll distribute the coconut and pecans over the bottom of the pan, so they’ll end up on the top of the cake.
Mix the ingredients according to the instructions; the completed batter will be too thick to pour, so scoop it into the prepared cake pan, then tap the cake pan on a couter top a couple of times to release any bubbles, and smooth the top before sliding it into the oven.
Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 65 minutes until a wooden skewer comes out clean. The cake should be deep golden brown. You can see how the edges have pulled away from the sides in this photo and the cracks on top are dry.
Set the pan on a rack to cool for 15 minutes, then gently shake the pan to loosen the cake. Place a serving plate on top of the pan and flip it all over; the cake should fall right out.
You can see the sugar, coconut, and pecans on the top and the whitish, very thin crust on the sides.
Allow the cake to cool completely, then mix your glaze and drizzle it decoratively over the cake. I was impatient and didn’t wait long enough so a lot of my glaze ended up puddled on the edge of the plate and in the middle of the cake. Good thing I used a plate with a lip! =0)
But, just wait until you taste it. The cake is incredibly moist from the brown sugar and butter and buttermilk, and oh, the flavor! The notes of caramel and vanilla and pecans and coconut blend together and will have you thinking that you’ve been transported to New Orleans.
Try Louisiana crunch cake with pecans and coconut and see if you don’t agree that it’s one of the best cakes you’ve ever eaten.
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Thanks, and bon appetit!
- solid vegetable shortening
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (3/4 oz, 21 grams) sweetened flaked coconut
- 1/4 cup(1 oz, 28 grams) pecans chips
- 3 cups (12-3/4 oz, 360 grams) all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup (7 oz, 198 grams) granulated cane sugar
- 1 cup (7-1/2 oz, 213 grams) light brown sugar
- 1 cup (8 oz, 226 grams) salted butter, room temperature
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature (whole-milk buttermilk is best)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons pecan liqueur
- 2 cups (8 oz, 227 grams) sifted confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup (2 oz, 61 grams) butter, melted
- 1/4 cup (2 fluid oz) heavy or whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pecan liqueur
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Brush the pan generously and evenly with solid shortening, then sprinkle with granulated sugar, being sure to get the sugar all over.
- Leave any extra sugar in the bottom of the pan.
- Evenly distribute the coconut and pecans on the bottom of the pan.
- Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and soda; set aside.
- In bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on medium until very fluffy, 2 or 3 minutes, then turn the speed to low and add the sugar.
- When the sugar is mostly mixed in, increase the speed to medium high and continue to beat until light and fluffy, 5 or 6 more minutes, scraping the bowl 2 or 3 times.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure that each egg is thoroughly blended before adding the next egg.
- Add sour cream, vanilla extract, and pecan liqueur and beat well.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix on low, then add 1/2 the buttermilk.
- Scrape the bowl, mix in another third of the flour on low, then add the remaining buttermilk and mix until mostly smooth.
- Add the last of the flour and mix just until smooth; do not overmix, this is a very thick batter.
- Scoop the batter into the cake pan, then smooth the top.
- Bake for 50 to 65 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Set the cake in it's pan on a cooling rack and let cool for 15 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a serving plate until cool.
- Sift the confectioner's sugar into a medium sized bowl and mix all ingredients together until smooth.
- Drizzle glaze over the cake.
Always sift confectioners sugar before using it in any recipe.
The cake can sit out for a day or so, covered with a clear cover, but leftovers should be refrigerated.
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