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Joni Woolf: Cakes boasting a local delicacy — pecans

The pecan industry took a hit in Southwest Georgia last year. What with a tornado and a hurricane, significant damage was done to pecan farmers — and their prize product — when nature took hard turns across our land. My grandest pecan tree fell victim to the high winds of the hurricane, and though it had quit bearing years ago, it was a visible reminder of the farmers who had been here before me, and who had planted it, expecting it to bear fruit, and it did. For 100 years.
Today’s recipes come from two friends who enjoy baking. Though I rarely offer a recipe I have not tried, these are both so new I haven’t had time (though I plan to bake at least one of them this week). I do, however, trust the people who gave them to me, and pass them on to you, our readers, with confidence that they will become favorites, proudly featuring pecans — from local growers, of course!

Butter Pecan Bundt Cake
(from Frances Meneely, as seen on Facebook)
1 ½ cups butter (softened)
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups brown sugar
3 teaspoons butter extract (divided)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large eggs
¾ cup sour cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon soda
Pinch salt
3.4 ounce instant French vanilla pudding mix
1 cup chopped pecans
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon butter extract
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
Chopped pecans for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-cup Bundt pan with shortening, then dust with flour. In large bowl, cream together butter, sugars, vanilla, and 2 teaspoons of butter extract until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mix until combined, and add sour cream, mixing well again. Add flour, salt, soda, and pudding mix and blend until combined. Fold in pecans. Pour into Bundt pan, cover with tin foil and bake for 1 ½ hours or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven, punch holes in cake with skewer and pour the sweetened condensed milk over the top, spreading with a spatula. Let sit 15 minutes, then invert onto cake plate to cool completely. When cool, mix glaze ingredients and pour over the top of cake. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Pecan Praline Cake Recipe
(From Virgil Cooper, given to me by Terry Holland)
One package yellow cake mix
One package (5.25 oz.) instant vanilla pudding
Chopped pecans to mix in batter and sprinkle over bottom of cake batter (about ¾ cup)
4 eggs
½ cup cold water
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup Praline Pecan Liqueur, or more to your liking

Glaze ingredients
¼ pound butter (1 stick)
¼ cup water
1 cup sugar (Virgil uses light brown sugar)
½ cup Praline Pecan Liqueur
Grease and flour (or use cooking spray) a Bundt pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake ingredients, except pecans, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan. Stir about half the pecans into top half of the batter. Sprinkle remaining pecans over top of batter. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes. Prepare glaze just before removing cake from the oven. For the glaze, combine the first 3 ingredients in saucepan, bring to a boil, and boil 5 minutes. Add liqueur during last minute, mixing in. Poke holes in the cake. Pour glaze slowly over the warm cake, including the sides of the cake and the tube hole. Invert cake onto a serving plate and poke holes in top of cake and add glaze, adjusting the amount of glaze to your taste. Let cake set for a minimum of 12 hours, insuring a moist cake.

Here are two new cakes for the new year. Try one. Or both. And let me know how you like them.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at indigojoni@windstream.net