This maple variation of the “All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake” from the famed Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum may quite possibly be the best cake I’ve ever made. My son chose it to celebrate his 16th birthday. 🙂 His favorite flavor profile usually incorporates vanilla and/or cream soda so this maple cake was a definitely a good choice.
I adapted the recipe to bake the cake in 8-inch cake pans. I also used fine sea salt and substituted vanilla extract for maple extract. It was very moist and rich. Fabulous.
I served this cake after an indulgent meal made to order for my birthday boy. He requested penne alla vodka, chicken parmesan, garlic bread, and Caesar salad. No one argued- all family favorites. 🙂
Yield: One 8-inch layer cake, about 12 to 14 servings
For the Cake: (all ingredients at room temperature)
- 6 large egg yolks (3.5 fl oz/4 oz/112 g)
- 1 liquid cup (8.5 oz/242 g) milk (I used 2% milk)
- 2 1/4 tsp (9 g) pure vanilla extract (can substitute 3/4 tsp vanilla extract + 1 tsp maple extract)
- 300 g (3 cups/10.5 oz) cake flour, sifted
- 300 g (2 cups/10.5 oz) maple sugar, sifted (from Whole Foods)
- 19.5 g (1 T + 1 tsp) baking powder
- 5 g (3/4 tsp) fine sea salt
- 12 T (6 oz/170 g) unsalted butter, softened
- Butter two 8-inch (2-in deep) cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper. Dust bottom and sides with flour, tap out excess. Set aside. (The layers can alternatively be baked in 9-inch cake pans that are 1 1/2-in deep.)
- Position an oven rack in the center position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
- In a medium bowl, lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup of the milk, and vanilla. (I used a 2 cup measuring cup.)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed for 30 seconds to blend.
- Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low-speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides.
- Gradually add the egg-milk mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pans. (I weigh them to distribute the batter evenly.) The pans should be about 1/2 full.
- Bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. (I baked mine for 27 minutes.) *The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
- Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes.
- Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up. Let cool completely before frosting or storing.
Note: The unfrosted layers can be wrapped tightly and stored for 2 days at room temperature, 5 days refrigerated, and 2 months frozen. The frosted cake should be stored in the refrigerator.
For the Neoclassic Maple-Vanilla Buttercream: (all ingredients at room temperature)
Yield: 4 cups, enough to fill and frost two 8-inch layers
- 6 large egg yolks (3.5 fl oz/4 oz/112 g)
- 150 g (3/4 cup/5.25 oz) granulated sugar
- 164 g (1/2 liquid cup/5.75 oz) pure maple syrup
- 1 pound (4 sticks/2 cups/454 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoons
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract or maple extract
- Grease a 1-cup heatproof measuring cup. Set aside.
- Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. (I used a stainless steel bowl.) Using a hand mixer, beat the egg yolks until light in color.
- Combine the sugar and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a full rolling boil. (The entire surface will be covered with large bubbles- see note.) Immediately transfer the syrup to the prepared glass measuring cup to stop the cooking.
- Using a hand mixer, beat the syrup into the egg yolks in a steady stream. Don’t allow the syrup to fall on the beaters. Use a rubber scraper to remove any syrup remaining in the measuring cup.
- Continue beating until the mixture is completely cool.
- Gradually beat in the butter. (I incorporated 1 stick at a time.)
- Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Use immediately, or store in an airtight bowl in the refrigerator. (If stored, bring to room temperature before using.)
Note: The syrup must come to a rolling boil or the finished buttercream will be too thin.