LOVING maple syrup on my pancakes as I do (honestly, I drown them, it’s a bit sickening to others, or so I’ve been told…), this cake immediately jumped out at me when I first leafed through Nigella Lawsons’ Kitchen. The delicious combination of maple syrup, nuts, a fluffy sponge and a pretty pan are an absolute winner and I was very pleased with the way the cake turned out. So, apparently, were Mr t2k’s tutorial group at uni; who promptly devoured it the following morning!
Making this late on a sunday evening, it was perhaps a little trickier and had a few more steps than I had first anticipated. While it was a little time consuming (and created many dirty dishes!), the ingredients and methods are certainly nothing that can’t be found or performed easily. It’s just not a cake to make in a hurry.
- 75g plain flour
- 30g soft unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 150g pecans (or walnuts), roughly chopped
- 125ml maple syrup
- 300g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 125g soft unsalted butter
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 250ml crème fraîche or sour cream
- 1–2 teaspoons icing sugar, for decoration
- Flavourless oil, for greasing
- 1 x 23cm bundt tin
Firstly, after pre-heating your oven to 180°C, grease your tin thoroughly with the vegetable oil and leave it to drain upside-down over your sink to coat the pan well.
Now, although you are directed to make the maple filling first, I had only just got the butter out of the fridge so it wasnt soft enough yet for the filing. With that in mind, I got on with the cake batter.
Measure out the flour, baking powder and the bicarb into a bowl. Setting that aside, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then beat in 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture, then 1 egg, then another tablespoonful of flour mixture followed by the second egg.
Now beat in the rest of the flour mixture until well mixed. Be warned, the batter will get incredibly stiff at this point, almost like cookie dough. I had to remove my beaters and use a spatula to finish it off, and to mix in the cream cheese (which I had in place of sour cream. I also added a splash of milk here, as the cheese is denser than sour cream).
Putting the cake batter aside, I proceed with the maple walnut filling. Mix together the 75g of flour and 30g of butter with a fork, or pastry cutter if you have it, (or your hands if it’s all too hard!) to end up with a breadcrumb-like mixture (as you see in a crumble recipe). Then, using the fork, add in the chopped walnuts, cinnamon and maple syrup to form a thick, sticky paste.
To assemble, take the cake batter and spread half of it around the oiled pan, be sure the spread to the sides and around the funnel well, to prevent the filling leaking out.
Now, spread the filling on top of the batter, keeping it in the middle of the cake batter and pressing it in where needed.
Finally, finish with the other half of the cake batter on top of the filling. This step I found the trickiest, because of how thick the batter is and the soft filling. Trying to spread the batter without moving the filling was difficult, but not impossible. I found an ordinary tablespoon to be the best implement here.
The cake goes into the oven for 40 minutes, but check it at 30. The cake tester will come out clean from the sponge (obviously the filling will stick to the tester). Let it cool on a rack for 15 minutes in its tin and then loosen the edges and ease it gently on to a serving plate. When cold, dust with icing sugar and slice to serve.
The recipe states that the cake can be baked up to 2 days ahead or frozen for up to 3 months. Honestly, it didn’t last more than 12 hours at our place, but you could definately make it in advance for an upcoming afternoon tea. I really loved the flavours of this cake, the sponge was dense and moist, the filling was amazing! When I make it again, I will add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the cake batter, to complement the filling. Obviously you can do as you wish, but if you like cinnamon in your cakes, it would be a great addition.