Grand Champion (David Burnett) Bake-off Winner's Recipe!

Butter Pecan Cake with a Dulce de Leche Filling and a Brown Sugar Buttercream

Cake Ingredients: Enough for two 8-inch round pans or one 9x13-inch rectangular pan

  • 2 ½ cups (325 grams) of all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 224 grams) of unsalted butter at a room temperature
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup of whole milk at room temperature
  • 1 cup (109 grams) roasted pecan pieces*



  • 1 can of dulce de leche (I use the nestle brand)



  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 224 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup (100 grams) light brown sugar
  • 4 cups (480 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tsp whole milk or heavy cream at room temperature to use as needed to reach a spreadable consistency

*Extra roasted whole pecans for decorating

** May want to double the recipe if you are making more than 2 layers of cake and you want to add frosting swirls on top.



  • Preheat your oven to 325F (all ovens vary, and this is just a recommendation)
  • Prepare your pans
    • Use butter and flour or a non-stick cooking spray
    • Line the bottom with baking paper
  • Sift all dry ingredients together in a medium size bowl and then whisk to combine
    • Flour, baking powder, and salt
  • Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla
    • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer) beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla on a medium speed until light and fluffy. This usually takes about 8 minutes.  Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed with a spatula to make sure everything is getting combined
  • Add eggs to the sugar mixture
    • Add 2 eggs at a time. Be sure to beat on a low speed for about 30 seconds after each addition.  Be sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed with a spatula to make sure everything is getting combined
  • Add dry ingredients and wet ingredients
    • Add the flour mixture in four parts, alternating with the milk in three parts, beating just until combined before adding the next. Beat on a low speed and be careful not to overmix or the cake will be dry and tough
  • Pecans
    • Gently fold in the roasted pecans with a spatula
  • Bake
    • Scrape the batter into the pan(s) as even as possible (you can use a scale to ensure the batter is distributed evenly) and use a spoon to level the batter in the pan
    • Bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the top springs back when gently touched.
      • Approximately 40 minutes for the 9x13 pan and 45 minutes for the round pans
      • This is just a guide. Always check your cakes and rotate them after 30 minutes
      • All ovens are different
    • Cool cake:
      • Once done, transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack for 1-15 minutes
      • Once the pans are cooled down to warm, turn the cakes out onto the wire rack and cool completely
      • Once cooled, you can wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator
      • Cold cakes are easier to level and to frost/fill


  • In a standing mixer or use a handheld mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together on a medium speed until fluffy (about 5 minutes)
  • Add vanilla and mix until combined
  • Add the powdered sugar (about a cup at a time) and mix on low to combine and then mix on medium high until creamy
  • Add 1 tsp of whole milk or heavy cream at a time until the frosting is at your desired consistency



  • On a plate or a cake board, dollop a small amount of frosting to secure the first cake layer
  • If your cake layers baked with a small dome on top, use a serrated knife to level the cakes flat
  • Take your first layer and place it on the plate or cake board and add about 1/4th of the frosting and smooth out
  • Then add a small amount of dulce de leche in the center and smooth out
  • Place the second layer upside down (the bottom is the flattest part and will be easy to frost and get a flat top on your cake)
  • Add another ¼ of the buttercream to the top and use this to spread a thin layer of frosting around the entire cake. This is called a crumb coat and will lock in the crumbs.
  • Once the thin coating is on the cake, place the cake in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes
  • After 30 minutes, remove the cake and add the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake
  • You can then add more dulce de leche on the top and add any swirls or other decorations as desired!



Join Our Mailing List