2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons plus 2 tsp. vanilla extract, in all
2 cups sugar, in all
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, dry roasted until dark in color, then cooled
Place the pecans in a large ungreased roasting pan and roast at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a medium-size bowl combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Then mix in the 4 tablespoons butter. Add the roasted pecans to the butter mixture and coat them thoroughly. Return mixture to pan and roast for 10 minutes more, stirring once or twice. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the vanilla and roast 5 minutes more. Remove from oven and set aside.
In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the 1 1/2 sticks butter and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar on high speed until very light and fluffy, about 6-8 minutes.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour and baking powder. In a third bowl combine the milk and the remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla. Add the flour mixture and milk mixture alternately to the butter mixture, beating on high speed until well blended and scraping the bowl sides between additions. Stir in the pecans.
In a separate bowl whip the egg whites on high speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue beating until mixture is stiff and holds peaks, about 2 minutes. Gently fold egg-white mixture into the batter, a third at a time.
Spoon batter into 3 greased and lightly floured 8 inch round cake pans (1 1/2 inches deep). Spread batter so it is slightly lower in the center (since it peaks in the center during cooking). Bake at 350 degrees until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then carefully remove from pans and place on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Glaze, then spread generously with icing between layers and on top and sides. Makes one 3 layer cake.
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Immediately brush glaze over the top of each cake layer with a pastry brush, a little at a time, using all the glaze.
Note: It's best to use butter rather than butter in this frosting because butter tends to melt out of the frosting as the cake sits awhile.
Combine the granulated sugar and water in a 1 quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat to soft-thread stage (230 degrees on a candy thermometer), about 15 minutes; do not stir.
In a large bowl of an electric mixer beat the egg yolks on high speed just slightly, about 5 seconds. Gradually add the hot sugar-water mixture and beat until thoroughly cooled, thick, shiny and very pale, about 10 minutes. (Start at low speed so it won't splash and then go to high speed.) If crystallized sugar builds up around the sides of the bowl, don't scrape it into mixture; it will make the frosting lumpy and you will have plenty of frosting without it. Gradually add the butter and mix on medium speed until completely blended and very smooth, about 5 minutes.