Maple Layer Cake with Maple-Vanilla Buttercream

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

  1. 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.)
  2. Position an oven rack in the center position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  3. In a medium bowl, lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup of the milk, and vanilla. (I used a 2 cup measuring cup.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Gradually add the egg-milk mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pans. (I weigh them to distribute the batter evenly.) The pans should be about 1/2 full.
  8. 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.
  9. Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes.
  10. 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
  1. Grease a 1-cup heatproof measuring cup. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Continue beating until the mixture is completely cool.
  6. Gradually beat in the butter. (I incorporated 1 stick at a time.)
  7. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  8. 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.

Sour Cream Maple Cake with Maple Buttercream Frosting

We have enjoyed this wonderful “snack” cake on a couple of occasions this fall. It is dangerously easy to make and was incredibly moist and very tasty. I forgot to drizzle the top with maple syrup on both occasions. Not necessary!

The recipe was adapted from Bake from Scratch magazine, via the Washington Post. The frosting is a little bit salty- which we liked- but the salt level can be adjusted to taste. We ate it chilled. Great.

Yield: One 9×9-inch cake, about 16 pieces

For the Cake:

  • cooking spray or unsalted butter, softened, for greasing the pan
  • 2 1/2 cups (344 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) pure maple syrup, preferably dark grade (I used grade A amber)
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) canola oil
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick/113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (200 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably dark grade, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (to taste)

To Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, with the rack in the middle.
  2. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan. (I used cooking oil spray.) Line the pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over the sides of the pan (the overhang will give you handles to lift the cake out after it’s baked). Lightly spray (or butter) the parchment.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add the maple syrup, oil, milk, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, sour cream and vanilla, and stir with a rubber spatula just until combined and no streaks of flour remain. (There will be some lumps in the batter; this is okay.)
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan on the counter eight times to release air bubbles.
  6. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until deep golden and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, covering with foil after 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning. (It may dip in the middle, don’t worry.)(I baked mine for 30 minutes but would add 2 to 3 minutes next time to decrease the amount of dipping.)
  7. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Using the parchment overhang as handles, remove from the pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. In the same (cleaned-out) bowl you used to make the cake, beat the butter with a handheld mixer on medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. (You can do this in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, if you prefer.)
  2. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until combined.
  3. Add the sour cream, maple syrup and salt, and beat at medium-high speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not overbeat. (Add 1/4 tsp salt, taste and add the additional 1/4 tsp, to taste.)
  4. Spread the frosting onto the cooled cake. Drizzle with additional maple syrup, if desired, and serve. (I preferred to serve it slightly chilled.)

Maple Browned Butter Pumpkin Pie

I broke my tradition of serving a Pumpkin Chiffon Pie on Thanksgiving Day to try this pie instead. The combination of maple and browned butter was delicious in a pumpkin pie. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Budget Bytes.com. I used the all-butter pie crust recipe from my gold standard Pumpkin Chiffon pie. Next time I would not make the pie in a deep dish pie pan as the original recipe suggests- I prefer the filling to puff out over the crust. Nice!

Yield: One 9-inch pie

For the All-Butter Pie Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the salt.
  2. Add the butter and pulse until the size of peas, 5 to 10 seconds.
  3. Drizzle in the water and pulse until the crumbs are moistened; turn out onto a work surface.
  4. Gather into a ball, flatten, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (I refrigerated mine overnight.)
  5. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a 13-inch round a scant 1/4 inch thick. (I lightly flour the dough and roll it out between sheets of plastic wrap.)
  6. Fit the dough into a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate and (trim the overhang to 3/4 inch). Fold the dough under itself and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate the pie shell for 10 minutes. (I often refrigerate the crust, covered with plastic wrap, overnight at this point.)

For the Pie:

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 15oz. can pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 All-Butter Pie Crust (recipe above)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF, preferably on convection.
  2. Cut the butter into four tablespoon-sized chunks, then add them to a small skillet. Heat the butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter solids turn deep brown and develop a nutty aroma (it will first become foamy, then the solids will sink to the bottom and turn brown). Remove the butter from the heat immediately to prevent burning, and carefully pour it into a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt to the bowl with the brown butter. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the eggs and pumpkin purée to the bowl with the butter and spices. Whisk until smooth.
  5. Lastly, add the evaporated milk, and whisk until smooth again.
  6. Place the prepared pie crust on a baking sheet for easy transport in and out of the oven. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust. Transfer the filled crust to the oven.
  7. Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425ºF, then turn the heat down to 350ºF and continue to bake for 35-40 minutes more, or until the pie is slightly domed on top, lightly browned around the edges, and the center is no longer liquid, but jiggles just slightly when you shake the baking sheet. If the crust begins to brown too much as it bakes, you can cover the crust with foil to stop the browning. (I covered the crust for the duration of the baking time.)
  8. Remove the pie from the oven and let cool at room temperature for about one hour.
  9. Once cool, cut and serve, or cover with foil or plastic and transfer to the refrigerator for storage, preferably overnight.

Spicy Roasted Poblano & Potato Chowder with Maple & Browned Butter Skillet Cornbread

When it snows on the first day of spring, you have to seize the opportunity to make one last cozy soup- at least in my house. 🙂

On a recent family trip to Newport, Rhode Island, we ate a lot of delicious chowder. Sometimes twice in one day! :/ This inspired the choice to make a chowder during our last (hopefully our last) snowstorm of the season.

This recipe was adapted from Easy Soups from Scratch with Quick Breads to Match by Ivy Manning. I modified the method and proportions, and added a cilantro garnish. I really liked the soup and quick bread pairings in this book.

For the Chowder:

  • 5 medium or large poblano chiles
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 large yellow onions, finely chopped in a food processor
  • 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, minced in a food processor
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, about 7 medium, peeled and sliced 1/8″ thick with a mandolin
  • 4 1/2 T masa harina or fine cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese, for garnish
  • minced cilantro, for garnish
  1. Adjust the oven rack so that it is 6 inches (15 cm) below the heating element and preheat the broiler.
  2. Place the poblanos on a small, heavy baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  3. Broil the chiles, turning with tongs halfway through cooking, until the skins are blackened all over, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven. Fold and seal the aluminum foil together and let cool. (This helps the charred skin steam off.)
  5. Melt the butter in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  6. Add the onion and celery and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes.
  7. Add the garlic and oregano and sauté until fragrant, about 45 seconds.
  8. Add the broth and potatoes, cover, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and continue simmering while you prep the chiles.
  9. Remove the chiles from the foil pouch. Discard the stems and seeds. Peel off and discard the blackened skins.
  10. Chop the chiles and add them to the soup pot.
  11. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, unit the potatoes are fall-apart tender, about 25 minutes.
  12. Place the masa in a medium bowl and gradually whisk in the cream.
  13. Add the mixture to the soup and cook, uncovered, until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes.
  14. Season with salt and pepper.
  15. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with the grated cheese and minced cilantro. Serve immediately.

Note: The cooled soup (without cheese) can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator overnight and reheat very gently.

For the Skillet Cornbread:

  • 6 T (85 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (140 g) cornmeal
  • 1 cup (140 g) white whole wheat flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) sour cream or plain full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3 T pure maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. While the oven is preheating, place the butter in a 12-inch (30.5 cm) cast iron skillet and place the skillet into the oven. Heat the pan until the butter is melted and browned, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, maple syrup, and eggs.
  5. Add the buttermilk mixture to the cornmeal mixture and scrape the melted butter from the skillet into the batter.
  6. Mix with a wooden spoon until just blended. Do not overmix.
  7. Scrape the batter into the skillet and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
  8. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 14 to 15 minutes.
  9. Let bread cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes.
  10. Cut the cornbread into wedges or pieces, as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: This moist cornbread freezes well. Stack the cooled wedges, wrap them in foil, and freeze in a ziplock plastic bag for up to 3 months. To reheat, arrange the bread in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with foil, and bake in a 350 degree oven until heated through, about 15 to 20 minutes.

One Year Ago: Butternut Squash Bread Soup

Two Years Ago: White Bean Soup with Bacon & Herbs

Three Years Ago: Slow Cooker Pork Tinga Tacos

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago: Hungarian Lentil Stew and Spicy Lentil Chili

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