Maple Walnut Cake
- 2 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
- 2 teaspoon(s) baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
- 1/2 teaspoon(s) cinnamon
- 1/2 cup(s) butter, softened
- 1/2 cup(s) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cup(s) pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup(s) water
- 1 cup(s) finely chopped walnuts
- 6 walnut halves
- 2 1/4 cup(s) confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 cup(s) brown sugar
- 8 tablespoon(s) (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/8 teaspoon(s) salt
- 1/2 cup(s) maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon maple flavoring
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoon(s) whole milk, can use up to four tablespoons
1. Make the batter: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a small brush, lightly coat two 9-inch cake pans with softened butter or vegetable-oil cooking spray. Dust with flour and tap out any excess. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a large bowl using a mixer set on high speed, beat the butter and sugar for 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Add 1 cup maple syrup and vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture by thirds, alternating with the water and ending with the dry ingredients. Gently stir in the walnuts.
2. Bake the cake: Divide the batter equally between the two prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until a tester inserted into the center of each cake layer comes out clean -- about 30 minutes. Cool in the cake pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the cake layers from the sides of the pans and invert the layers onto the wire rack to cool completely.
3. Make the cake garnishes: Lightly coat a sheet pan with cooking spray and arrange the walnut halves about 3 to 4 inches apart. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 1/2 cup maple syrup over medium-high heat. Cook the syrup until it reaches hard-crack stage (300 degrees F), or when a drop placed in a glass of cold water becomes hard and brittle. Remove from heat and carefully spoon boiled syrup over the walnuts, allowing it to run in streams around the sheet pan. Set aside to let cool completely.
4. Make frosting: In a medium bowl with a mixer set on medium speed, beat sugars, butter, and salt until combined. Continue beating and add the maple syrup in a slow stream. Add the vanilla. Increase speed to medium high and continue to beat until light and fluffy. If necessary, add up to 4 tablespoons of milk to achieve a smooth spreading consistency.
5. Frost the cake: Use a serrated knife to level the mounded sides of the cake layers, if necessary. Line the edges of a cake plate with 3-inch-wide strips of waxed or parchment paper and place a cake layer, trimmed side down, on top. Place 1 cup of frosting on top of the layer and spread evenly. Place the second layer, trimmed side down, on the first and cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining icing. Decorate the top of the cake with candied walnuts and the hardened maple sugar. Remove paper strips and serve. Store at room temperature for up to 4 days.