Maple Walnut Cake

 

                                                                                      Maple Walnut Cake

 

My mother always insisted that, in keeping with my grandfather’s tradition of using a mix, this cake should not be made from scratch.  You can do that by selecting a white or yellow cake mix ( find mine at Whole Foods) and adding the maple flavoring and finely chopped walnuts to the mix before baking.  However, when Mom isn't looking, i often bake the made-from-scratch recipe below adapted from the classic 1-2-3-4 cake.

1 cup butter 

2  cups sugar

3 cups cake flour, sifted

3 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 ½ teaspoons maple extract

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 In a large bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and salt and set aside. Using an electric mixer in a separate large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy.  Continue beating and gradually add the sugar until the batter is light and fluffy.  Beat one egg at a time into creamed mixture.  Add the flour mixture alternately with milk (to which the flavorings have been added), beating after each addition until smooth.  Pour the batter into two 9-inch round greased and floured layer pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes on cake racks then remove from the pans to finish cooling. Make the frosting.

Maple Butter Cream Frosting

1/3 cup butter, softened 

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

¼ cup maple syrup

1/2 -3/4 teaspoon maple flavoring (or to taste)

1-2 tablespoons milk or cream, as needed

1 cup chopped walnuts

½ cup walnut halves for decoration

Cream together the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer or use a sturdy hand mixer. Add the syrup and maple flavoring and mix until thoroughly blended. Add enough milk or cream to make a thick, but easily spreadable frosting. Take care to not get it too runny. Place the first cake layer on a serving plate. (If it has a a very rounded top, I turn it upside down so the flat side is  a good surface for the next layer.) Spread about ¼ of the frosting evenly on the top of the cake.  Sprinkle with 1/3 of the chopped walnuts.  Place second layer on top of the first. Spread about half of the frosting around the sides of the cakes. (Hint: Dipping your spatula in hot water makes the frosting go on more smoothly.) Press the remaining chopped walnuts into the frosting on the side of the cake.  Finally, spread the top layer with frosting and decorate with the walnut halves.  This cake is best stored in the refrigerator and should be brought to room temperature before serving.

Makes a 9-inch layer cake or 8-12 servings.