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bourbon pecan pie upside-down cake

Guess where we are headed next month? If you guessed Lexington, Kentucky, you are correct! In just a few weeks, we’ll be sipping on juleps and sampling every kind of bourbon the beautiful Bluegrass State has to offer. This is our first time visiting, so if anyone has recommendations or travel tips, please let us know in the comments below. We will be attending an intimate blogger’s retreat, hosted by the lovely and talented Lauren of Harvest and Honey, a fellow finalist at the 2016 Saveur Blog Awards. We became instant friends at the ceremony in New York and are looking forward to spending more time with her in her hometown during this eventful weekend she has planned. Follow along on our Instagram Stories as we visit horse farms, tour bourbon distilleries, and taste moonshine for the very first time. Speaking of liquor, can we please discuss this cake recipe we are sharing today? Inspired by our upcoming trip to Kentucky, we wanted to create a recipe featuring a classic southern ingredient: bourbon! So pick out your favorite bottle, put on some Bill Monroe, and let’s get this cake party started! 

We’d like to welcome a brand new dessert into the world. Please give a warm welcome to our bourbon pecan pie upside down cake: a soft browned butter cake topped with a pecan-pie-inspired caramel with toasted pecans, and the secret ingredient—Kentucky bourbon! It is sinfully delicious when enjoyed hot out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and we guarantee y’all will be saying, “well, I declare!” with the first bite. The browned butter brings a warm satisfying flavor and adds tiny brown flecks to the cake, just like a vanilla bean. Topped with a golden layer of thick bourbon caramel and toasted pecans, you are about to make someone’s weekend very happy.

Lauren has been working her tail off to put together an incredible itinerary for our weekend in the South. She had a great idea for the retreat—on Saturday night, we will all cook a “family meal” together, each blogger contributing a recipe that will be shared on their sites over the next few weeks, so you can cook along with us—more details on that later! In between bourbon tastings and farm visits in Lexington, we will also be spending a day working for the nonprofit Rise Against Hunger and will be helping package over 10,000 meals for people in need. The organization runs entirely on volunteers, and our devoted blogging crew (Harvest and Honey, Lyndsey Eden, Food by Mars, and Terminatetor Kitchen) will be lending a hand. We felt this was a great way to raise awareness and money for hunger relief, and what better way to do so than with close friends? It takes $3,000 in donations to pull off a meal-packing event like this, and if you would like to help out, it is easy to do so by visiting our event page at http://events.stophungernow.org/Harvest&Honey2018. Okay, now we’re off to get our weekend started with another slice of this caramel cake, and it’s Friday—the perfect time to start building up our tolerance for our big Kentucky adventure. 

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Bourbon Pecan Pie Upside-Down Cake
Makes one 6-inch single-layer cake
Serves 5 to 6

For the Browned Butter Cake:
1/4 cup (57g / half a stick) unsalted butter
6 tablespoons (75g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
6 tablespoons (85g) greek yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons bourbon
1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (90g) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Bourbon Pecan Pie Caramel:
1/3 cup (40g) pecans
1/4 cup (57g / half a stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup (107g) brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon bourbon

Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C, arrange an oven rack in the center of the oven, and grease a 6-inch cake pan.

To brown the butter for the cake:
Place the butter in a small saucepan, and set over medium-low heat. Stirring constantly, cook until the butter melts and becomes foamy. Continue stirring until the foam subsides and the solids at the bottom of the pan begin to turn brown. Once they have turned a nutty dark brown color—but not black—immediately pour the butter into a heatproof bowl to stop the cooking process. Place the bowl of butter in the fridge to cool and solidify while you prepare the caramel.

To make the caramel:
Place the pecans in a medium dry skillet, and set over medium-low heat. Stirring often, cook until the nuts are fragrant and toasted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof cutting board or plate until cool enough to handle comfortably. Coarsely chop the pecans, and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the cubed butter, brown sugar, dark corn syrup, and salt. Set over medium-low heat, and stirring constantly, bring to a boil—you will know it is boiling when bubbles appear over the entire surface of the caramel, not just at the edges. As soon as the mixture is boiling, set a timer for 90 seconds, and continue stirring until the timer rings. Then remove from heat, and stir in the pecans and bourbon—be careful, as the mixture will steam and sputter vigorously when the bourbon is added. Stir until evenly blended, then pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan. Let cool at room temperature while you prepare the cake batter.

To make the browned butter cake:
Scrape the solidified browned butter into a medium mixing bowl, and add the granulated sugar. Blend on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and greek yogurt, and blend until smooth. Add the bourbon and vanilla, and blend to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the browned butter mixture, and stir just until combined and no streaks of flour remain. Spoon the batter over the warm caramel in the cake pan, spreading it into an even layer.

Bake until golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 30 to 35 minutes. Place the pan on a rack to cool for 12 to 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it, then carefully invert the pan onto a serving plate, but do not lift it off yet. Allow the pan to cool inverted for 5 minutes, then carefully lift the pan off, allowing the caramel to drip down the sides of the cake. Use a silicone spatula to scrape any caramel left in the pan onto the top of the cake. Serve warm—with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired—and enjoy!

— This cake is best served warm, as the caramel will firm up as it cools. Leftovers should be heated before serving, for best results.
— If serving a larger crowd, simply double the recipe, and it will fit perfectly in a 9-inch cake pan to serve 10 to 12 people. The cake will take slightly longer to cook, 40-45 minutes.SaveSave