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Butter Pecan Loaf
From Pecans: From Soup to Nuts, by Keith Courrégé and Marcelle Bienvenue

During the Christmas holidays, make several of these to give as gifts. This is also a great dessert to serve with homemade ice cream in the summer. Or, cut the cake into thick slices, toast and spread with jam, jelly, or preserves to enjoy for breakfast with a cup of café au lait.

Ingredients:

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/4 cup pecan halves
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1-1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons cognac

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Butter a 9" x 5" x 3"-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom of the pan with waxed or parchment paper. Butter the paper, then dust the sides and bottom with flour. Shake off any excess. Set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the pecans and cook, stirring, until the nuts are lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes.

Drain the nuts in a strainer placed over a measuring cup, tossing to remove as much butter as possible. There should be about 1/2 cup of melted butter in the cup. If there isn't, add enough melted butter to measure 1/2 cup. Let the butter cool to room temperature and set aside. Coarsely chop the pecans and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. In another mixing bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar on medium-high speed and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Add the cream and beat to blend. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture, and beat until just blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl; add the cognac and the chopped pecans. Stir to blend. Fold in the melted butter and pour the batter into the pan.

Bake until the cake is golden and the center springs back when touched, about 1-1/2 hours. Cool the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn it over onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When it has cooled, wrap it in plastic wrap, then in foil. Let the cake stand for one day before slicing. It will keep up to one week.

Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

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