Fresh Apple Cake (from SouthernLiving)
1½ cups chopped pecans
½ cup butter, melted
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2½ pounds Granny Smith apples (about 4 large), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
2 Tbsp. melted butter
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
Stir together butter and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl until blended.
Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; add to butter mixture, stirring until blended. Stir in apples and 1 cup pecans. (Batter will be very thick, similar to a cookie dough.) Spread (press with hands) batter into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch pan.
Prepare streusel topping - pour melted butter in a small bowl, and stir in ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon. Add 1 cup chopped pecans, stirring until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over apple cake.
Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack (about 45 minutes). *If opting to use a frosting, omit streusel topping. Spread your choice of frosting over top of cake; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup pecans.