Pecan Cream Cake
Pecan Cream Cake. Landon Nordeman

Packed with coconut and pecans and covered in cream cheese frosting, this cake is a specialty of Georgia home cook Cile Ellis. It first appeared in our November 2013 issue with Wendell Brock’s story Southern Belle.

Pecan Cream Cake Pecan Cream Cake
This showstopping dessert from Georgia home cook Cile Ellis packs three moist layers of vanilla cake with coconut, pecans, and cream cheese frosting.
Yield: serves 8-10

For the Cake

  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 12 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 12 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 14 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

For the Frosting

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 12 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 14 cup roughly chopped pecans, toasted


  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 350°. Butter and flour three 8″ cake pans; set aside. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Whisk buttermilk and vanilla in another bowl. Cream butter, shortening, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until fluffy, 2–3 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, alternately add dry ingredients in 3 batches and wet ingredients in 2 batches. Increase speed to high, and beat until batter is smooth, 5–10 seconds. Whip egg whites in a bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites, coconut, and pecans into batter. Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth top with a rubber spatula; drop pans lightly on a counter to expel large air bubbles. Bake cakes until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, 20–22 minutes. Let cakes cool for 20 minutes in pans; invert onto wire racks and let cool completely.
  2. Make the frosting: Using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth.
  3. To assemble, place one cake layer on a cake stand and spread with 13 cup frosting; top with another layer and spread with 13 cup frosting. Top with remaining layer. Cover top and sides with remaining frosting and sprinkle top with pecans; chill cake 1 hour until frosting is firm.