I cobbled this recipe together recently to take advantage of pecan meal in my freezer, and because I needed a fast, easy dessert for dinner. My expectations were accordingly very low, and I planned to make up for dryness or other shortcomings with a generous pitcher of fudge sauce.
Rather to my surprise, this cake turned out deliciously light and soft. It has a very airy, tender texture, with a mild sweetness that reminded me vaguely of maple syrup.
There is no butter - all the fat comes from eggs and buttermilk, so this is light enough to serve for breakfast with fruit and cream; and yet it's unusual and grown up enough for an after-dinner dessert, served with dark chocolate or espresso sauce.
1 10" springform cake
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon brandy
1 cup flour
1 cup pecan meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
Grease a 10" springform and heat the oven to 375°F. Beat the eggs until yellow and ribboned and grown in volume. Beat in the brown sugar, vanilla, and brandy. Sift together the flour, pecan meal, and baking powder, then add to the eggs, alternating with the buttermilk. Beat for several minutes, then pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cover the top with foil about halfway through baking so the top doesn't brown too much. Let cool and serve with hot fudge sauce, if so inclined.
(Image: Faith Hopler)