Sweet maple bundt cake filled with toasted pecans and topped with a maple cream cheese glaze - this Maple Pecan Bundt Cake is the perfect fall dessert!
I've been a little obsessed with pecans lately. Maybe it's Canada taking a hold of me and slowly morphing me into a Canadian, (I even posted a recipe for homemade maple cream!) But they're just so crunchy and delicious and I don't know how I didn't make more pecan recipes in the past!
This maple pecan bundt cake is really a celebration of pecans. The sweet, maple sponge sets the stage for the toasted, candied pecans and everything is tied together with a dreamy maple cream cheese glaze. The perfect cake for fall baking.
Pecans are such a wonderful fall flavor, if you want more inspiration on how to use them, check out my Brown Butter Pecan Cookies or my Sweet Pecan Butter recipe. Or check out my pumpkin spice donuts recipe that uses the same maple cream cheese glaze as this bundt cake.
Butter - You can use salted or unsalted butter for this maple pecan bundt cake. I actually quite like the flavor of the salt with the nuts. If you use salted butter, you may want to use slightly less salt in the cake batter.
White Sugar - White sugar helps to create the gorgeous, caramelized, golden brown outer layer of the bundt cake and makes for a nice crisp edge formed in the bundt pan. Make sure it's superfine sugar (caster sugar in the UK).
Light Brown Sugar - Complimenting the white sugar, the light brown sugar (or golden sugar), will add some depth of flavor and give a slight caramel taste to the maple bundt cake.
Maple Syrup - Of course, we need maple syrup for a maple cake! Any maple syrup will do, just make sure it is real maple syrup, not pancake syrup or imitation maple syrup. If you can't get maple syrup, you could alternatively use a maple extract, but I think the real deal is always better.
Eggs - Use large eggs and try to use free range if you can.
Vanilla Extract - Any vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste will do. Try to avoid vanilla essence if you can.
Flour - Regular all-purpose flour (or plain flour) is best for bundt cakes as it gives the cake enough structure to hold its shape together and not fall apart in the pan, while also producing a nice fluffy sponge.
Milk - To make sure our cake is nice and soft on the inside, whole milk is best - but you can use whatever milk you have in the fridge.
Cream Cheese - Make sure you use full-fat cream cheese, we need it to carry the right consistency and flavor of the glaze.
Powdered Sugar - Also known as icing sugar or confectioners' sugar. This is to thicken and sweeten the maple cream cheese glaze.
Pecans - The star of the show - pecans! Any pecans you can find will do. Even if they are broken up it won't matter as we are going to chop them mostly anyway.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Toast the Pecans
Warning: Try not to eat all the pecans... like I did! The toasted, candied pecans are so moreish you'll have to try really hard not to eat them all right off of the tray - I had to make extra to decorate at the end because I scoffed too many of them!
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Chop the pecans into various-sized chunks, some small, some large - however you would like them. Keep a handful of pecan halves whole so you can decorate the top of the cake with them.
- Place the pecans in a medium bowl along with the melted butter and light brown sugar. Stir until the pecans are evenly coated.
- Spread the coated pecans out on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 7 minutes until toasted, they should smell lovely and nutty.
- Remove from the oven and set aside while you prepare your cake batter. Separate the whole pecans for decorating so you don't accidentally put them in the cake. Leave the oven on as the cake will be going in shortly.
Note: You can also make candied pecans on the stovetop if you prefer. Just put the pecans in an ungreased pan and add 2 tablespoons of butter and ⅓ cup brown sugar for each cup of pecans in the pan. Let them toast, stirring occasionally, while the sugar and butter melt around them and coat them. Once the sugar is dissolved and has coated the pecans, they are ready!
Make the Maple Pecan Bundt Cake
The main ingredients of this delicious bundt cake are standard cake ingredients, then we'll add in the maple and candied pecans. Make sure all your chilled wet ingredients (milk, butter and eggs) are at room temperature before beginning.
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C if it isn't already on from toasting the pecans, and thoroughly grease a bund cake pan. (See the section below for tips on how best to do this).
- Cream butter, white sugar, and light brown sugar together until light and fluffy. You can use a stand mixer or electric mixer at medium speed, or you can do it by hand if you prefer.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating in between each egg. I like to crack the eggs into a separate bowl to make sure i don't get any shells in the cake batter.
- Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla extract. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl for any unmixed ingredients.
- Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl (flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda).
- Add a third of the dry ingredients it to the cake batter, stir in completely.
- Add half the milk, followed by another third of the flour, the remainder of the milk, and then the rest of the flour mixture, making sure to incorporate completely in between each addition. If you don't mix it in well you'll end up with a gluey mess of flour and milk in your cake batter.
- Fold in your toasted pecans (remember to keep some aside for decoration).
- Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for 45 - 55 minutes or until a wooden skewer or cake tester comes out clean.
- After baking, let the cake cool in the bundt cake pan for 10 minutes exactly, then flip it upside and turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Let the cake cool completely before decorating.
Make the Maple Cream Cheese Glaze
Honestly, you could eat this maple pecan bundt cake without the glaze and it's utterly delicious. But the glaze just makes it that little bit extra special.
- Put all the glaze ingredients into a bowl or a mixer and beat together until smooth and free from lumps. This works best if you make sure the cream cheese is a room temperature first to avoid any lumps.
- Check the consistency of the glaze - consistency is really important for a bundt cake glaze. Too thick and you won't get those gorgeous drips down the side, too runny and it will dribble right off the edge of the cake. Test the thickness by running the glaze from a spoon into a bowl, it should move relatively slowly and sit on the surface for a while before sinking back in. If you need to thicken it up a little, add some more powdered sugar, if you need to thin it out, add a splash of milk or a little more maple syrup.
- Decorate - I find the easiest way to decorate bundt cakes is to use a piping bag, I kind of make zig-zag drips of maple glaze across the cake from outside to inside, then encourage them to drip down in the areas I want them to. You could also use a spoon or even just pour the glaze onto the cake. It's hard to make this look bad, to be honest, so just whatever feels right. At the end of the day, a maple pecan bundt cake is going to be delicious no matter what it looks like!
How to Properly Grease a Bundt Pan
A lot of people are intimidated by bundt cakes but there's really nothing to fear! The main thing is just to make sure that your cake pan is really well greased before putting your batter in. Here are some tips for how to prepare your bundt pan so your cakes come out easily every time.
- Use a baking spray or cake release spray, or make your own cake goop by mixing 1 part shortening with 1 part flour and 1 part vegetable oil. Add a spoonful of each to a small bowl, and mix together until smooth. I've had more success with the spray and cake goop than I have with just an oiled bundt tin. Cooking spray can also work but it depends on the brand so I wouldn't risk it for something as pretty as a bundt cake!
- Use a pastry brush to spread your cake goop or baking spray over all sides of the pan, into every corner and all the nooks and crannies of the bundt pan. Make sure you don't miss any spots and get every part of the pan covered.
- It's also important to remove a bundt cake from the pan at the right time. You don't want to take it out immediately as the cake will be too hot and may break apart. But if you leave it for too long it will start to sweat and go a bit soggy. Ideally, leave the bundt cake to sit in the pan for 10 minutes after removing it from the oven, then flip it upside down onto a cooling rack. The bundt cake should slide right out and you'll feel like a domestic goddess (or god). Perfect bundt cakes every time!
Can you make Maple Pecan Cake without a Bundt Pan?
If you don't have a bundt pan, don't worry! You can still make this maple pecan cake in either a regular cake tin or even as a loaf cake. Both the cake texture and the thickness of the glaze lend themselves really nicely to either of those formats, so keep the delicious flavor and make this cake in any form you like!
Make sure you store your maple pecan bundt cake in an airtight container. If it's already decorated, you'll want to store it in the fridge as the maple cream cheese glaze contains dairy. But if you haven't put the glaze on yet, it's best to keep the cake at room temperature. Best eaten within 3-5 days.
Maple Pecan Bundt Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Glaze
For the Cake
- 1 cup Unsalted Butter 227g
- 1 cup White Sugar 200g (caster sugar in the UK)
- 1 cup Golden Sugar 220g (light brown sugar)
- ⅔ cup Maple Syrup 215g
- 2 Eggs
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 3 cups All-purpose Flour 375g
- 1 cup Milk 240g / 240ml
- 2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ teaspoon Salt
For the Toasted Pecans
- 2 cups Chopped Pecans 218g
- 3 tablespoon Salted Butter
- 3 tablespoon Golden Sugar
For the Maple Cream Cheese Glaze
- ½ cup Cream Cheese room temperature
- ¼ cup Butter 57g room temperature
- 1 cup Icing Sugar 120g
- ¼ cup Maple Syrup 80g
- 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
Toast the Pecans
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking tray with parchment paper
- Chop pecans into various sized chunks and place in a bowl. (Keep a handful of them whole to decorate the cake with).2 cups Chopped Pecans
- Melt the butter and add to the bowl along with the pecans and golden sugar, stir until the pecans are evenly coated3 tablespoon Salted Butter, 3 tablespoon Golden Sugar
- Bake for 7 minutes until toasted, then remove from the oven and set aside while you prepare your cake batter. Leave the oven on as the cake will be going in shortly.
Make the Cake
- Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy1 cup Unsalted Butter, 1 cup White Sugar, 1 cup Golden Sugar
- Add eggs, one at a time and incorporate2 Eggs
- Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla extract⅔ cup Maple Syrup, 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl and add a third of it to the batter, stir in completely3 cups All-purpose Flour, 2 teaspoon Baking Powder, ½ teaspoon Salt, ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- Add half the milk, followed by another third of flour, the remainder of the milk and then the remainder of the flour, making sure to incorporate completely in between each addition1 cup Milk
- Fold in your chopped pecans (except the ones reserved for decorating)
- Pour into a well greased bundt pan and bake for 45 - 55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean
- Remove the bundt cake from the oven and allow to sit on the worktop for 10 minutes, then flip it upside down onto a cooling rack and remove from the pan. Let cool completely before decorating
Make the Maple Cream Cheese Glaze
- Put all the ingredients into a mixer and beat until smooth and slightly runny½ cup Cream Cheese, ¼ cup Butter, 1 cup Icing Sugar, ¼ cup Maple Syrup, 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
- Pour over the bundt cake as you like and decorate with toasted pecans