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Preheat oven, prepare cake pans: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and line 3 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, butter parchment paper and lightly dust pans with flour shaking out excess. Set pans aside.
Saute pecans in butter: Melt 3 Tbsp butter in a skillet over medium heat. Once melted add pecans and cook until slightly browned and fragrant, tossing frequently, about 4 minutes. Pour and spread onto a sheet of parchment paper or a baking sheet. Set aside and allow to cool.
Mix liquids together: stir together buttermilk and milk, set aside.
Whisk dry ingredients: In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt for 20 seconds, set aside.
Cream butter and sugar, then eggs and vanilla: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment whip together butter and sugar until very pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time adding in vanilla with last egg.
Mix in flour alternating with milk mixture: Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed just until combined, then add in 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture and mix just until combined then repeat process once more. Finish by mixing in remaining 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix just until nearly combined.
Fold in pecans: Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in pecans (fold batter until there's not longer streaks in the batter). Divide batter evenly among prepared baking pans.
Bake until set: Bake in preheated oven 23 - 28 minutes until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in cake pans 10 minutes.
Let cake cool completely on wire rack: Run a knife around edges of cake to ensure the are loosened and invert onto wire racks to cool completely. Once cool frost with cream cheese frosting and top with pecans.
For the cream cheese frosting: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment whip together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in vanilla and powdered sugar and blend until smooth and fluffy.