This Butter Pecan Praline Cake is a southern favorite. It's perfect for Derby Day, but it's welcome at our table at any time of year!Be sure to use the spoon and sweep method when measuring the flour, and sift it so the baked cake has a light, fluffy texture.
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Spray three 9" round cake pans with flour-based cooking spray.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix well with each addition. Add vanilla extract and beat until well-blended.
Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Add in all the milk; mix well. Add remaining flour mixture and combine until just incorporated. Using a large rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl and fold together by hand so that all ingredients are well incorporated.
Divide batter evenly into the prepared pans, slightly more than 2 cups of batter per pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan 7-10 minutes. Turn layers out of pans to rest a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Butter Pecan Frosting
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Drizzle in a little heavy cream. Gradually add remaining powdered sugar alternating with the heavy cream. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl with a spatula so that all ingredients are well incorporated. Add vanilla and salt; beat well. Beat in the 1 cup of finely ground pecans.
Fill cakes with the frosting and stack; coat the outside of the cake with a thin crumb coat of frosting. Refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes. Cover the outside of the cake with swirls of frosting. Press chopped pecans onto the bottom edge of the cake. Transfer leftover frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip. Pipe stars around the top edge of the cake. Immediately sprinkle chopped pecans over the stars.
For the horseshoe cake, bake the cake batter in a 13x9 inch pan for about 50 minutes. Tent the top of the cake if it begins to overbrown.Lay a piece of parchment paper flat on a work surface. Lay the bottom of a 13x9 inch pan on the parchment and trace around it. Cut out the shape. Draw a horseshoe within the shape and cut it out to use as a template. Lay the template on the baked, cooled cake and tack down onto the cake with toothpicks. Carve around the cake using a serrated knife. Save cake scraps for cake pops, trifles, or snacking.Make the butter pecan buttercream as directed and frost the entire cake. Tint two batches of American buttercream red (scroll to the bottom of this post for recipe). Pipe roses using #104 petal tip onto #7 flower nails (see this post for buttercream roses tutorial). Transfer to the top of the horseshoe cake using flower lifting scissors or a spatula.