This recipe first appeared in Mark Peel & Nancy Silverton at Home(Warner Books, 1994).
For the Topping
- 1 cup (4 ounces) pecans
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the Cake
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 2 cups crème fraîche or sour cream
- 1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1'' cubes
- 1 Tbsp. chopped lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 cups unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, and preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly coat a 10'' 14-cup-capacity bundt pan with melted butter.
For the topping: Spread the pecans on a baking sheet, and toast in the oven until lightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Shake the pan halfway through to ensure that the nuts toast evenly. Cool, and chop coarsely. In a small bowl, combine the nuts with the brown sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.
Turn the oven up to 350°. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, crème fraîche or sour cream, and vanilla extract.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt on low until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar, and turn the mixer up to medium for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Turn the mixer to low, add the egg mixture, a few tablespoons at a time, and mix until incorporated.
Add the flour to the butter mixture in 3 batches, turning the mixer off before each addition and mixing on low until just combined.
Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan, and spread evenly. Sprinkle half of the topping over the surface, and pour the remaining batter over it, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the surface with the remaining topping. Bake until firm to the touch, about 1 hour.