Pecan Pie Popcorn Naked Cake


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


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By Lorraine Pascale

Published 2017

  • About

I’m a judge for a show on the Food Network in the States called the ‘Holiday Baking Championship’, and I learn a lot from the contestants on the show. The following cake is called a naked cake, aptly named because it contains no cloak of buttercream to cover its naked crumb or umbrella of fondant to hide its nudity – it’s delightfully rude, just like this combination of popcorn, pecan and rich creamy filling.


  • 250 g pecan nuts
  • 350 g butter, softened
  • 325 g soft light brown sugar
  • 7 eggs
  • 4 tbsp whole milk or water
  • seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 325 g self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 100 g toffee popcorn (Butterkist)

For the buttercream filling

  • 75 g butter, softened
  • 250 g full-fat cream cheese (I use Philadelphia)
  • 125 g icing sugar (sifted if lumpy)


  • 3 x 20cm round loose-bottomed cake tins
  • stand mixer or hand-held electric whisk (optional)


Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C/350°F/gas 4) and line the cake tins with baking parchment. Put the pecan nuts on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 8–10 minutes, checking them regularly and giving the tray a good shake halfway through cooking to ensure they cook evenly. Remove them from the oven and leave to cool, then chop roughly and set aside.

To make the sponge, cream together the butter and light brown sugar for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. You can do this in a stand mixer or using a hand-held electric whisk. You can also do this by hand, but it does take time and lots of elbow grease! When the mixture is light and fluffy, add three of the eggs and half of the milk or water, the vanilla and half of the flour and beat together until just combined. Add the remaining four eggs, milk or water and flour, as well as the baking powder and stir, using as few stirs as possible so that the cakes remain light and fluffy. Using a spatula, fold in the toasted pecan nuts.

Divide the mixture between the lined tins and bake for 30–35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Once the cakes are baked, remove them from the oven and leave them to cool down completely in the tins.

When the cakes have cooled, make the filling. Mix together the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl along with the icing sugar. Be careful not to over-stir, as the cream cheese thins if it is overworked. If the buttercream does get a little runny, then just place it into the fridge to firm up a bit.

Put a blob of the buttercream on a cake stand or serving plate and put the first cake layer on top of it. This will stop the cakes from moving around too much when you are layering. Spread a third of the buttercream over the top of the first cake and repeat with the other cakes, finishing with a layer of the buttercream on the top. Then pile the toffee popcorn on top and serve.