Place pecans and 1/4 cup butter in a baking pan. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream sugar and remaining butter until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Stir in 1-1/3 cups of toasted pecans.
Pour into 3 greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
For frosting, cream butter and confectioners' sugar in a large bowl. Add milk and vanilla; beat until smooth. Stir in remaining toasted pecans. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake.
Test Kitchen Tips
Chocolate lover? Take this over the top by drizzling with chocolate sauce or hot fudge.
Pecans have a higher fat content than other nuts, so they’re more prone to going rancid. They’ll stay fresh for twice as long in the freezer as they would at room temperature.