I spent a half hour yesterday looking for a dessert that would be a great way to end a stressful week. I knew that I wanted something sweet, (of course) and something that was chocolate free because my sister gave up chocolate for lent and I wanted her to be able to eat it.
So, lo and behold, I found this cake. It spoke to my inner 8-year-old self because of the sugar!, sugar! and more sugar! that is in maple syrup. We can all remember those days when we would crawl out of bed in our pajamas and stroll into the kitchen where we would hear the sizzle of crispy bacon in a frying pan, the sweet smell of butter melting on pancakes, and the syrup which we would drown our pancakes in as others looked at us in disbelief. For a few of us, that might have been yesterday. No matter who you are, I’m almost positive you like maple syrup.
I could go on about maple syrup, but the true magic of this cake comes in the form of a crunch. Specifically a crunch in the form of brittle. To be even more specific… Maple Syrup Brittle!
And were back to maple syrup.
Anyway, here’s the recipe for the cake!
Crunchy Maple Brittle
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
For the Buttercream
3/4 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the Brittle
Line a 8 x 9 x 2 inch pan with greased foil.
In a small pan, stir the syrup, sugar and vinegar over medium-high heat until sugar is moistened and partially dissolved, about 2 minutes. Then stop stirring and let the mixture boil continuously for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and whisk into the baking soda. Then add in the chopped pecans and stir carefully, being careful not to overflow. Pour the brittle into the greased pan and put in the refrigerator until future use.
*Note: If you are nervous about adding in the pecans because it will overflow the mixture, you can pour the liquid brittle in the pan first and then sprinkle the pecans over the top.
For the Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Spray two 8-inch-diameter pans. Line bottoms with parchment and re-spray over parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside
In an electric mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add in the sugar. Then slowly pour in the maple syrup and do not worry if the batter looks funky. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Alternate adding the dry ingredients in three batches with the buttermilk in two batches. Dry, wet, dry, wet, dry. Pour the batter evenly among the prepared pans.
Put the cakes in the oven and let them bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cakes cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then run a knife around the sides of the pan and flip the cakes onto the rack. Let the cakes cool completely.
For the Buttercream
In a medium bowl, whisk the powdered sugar and cinnamon together, set aside. In a large mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Slow the speed down, add in the maple syrup, and let mix for 2 minutes. Slowly add in the sugar/cinnamon mixture until combined. Add in vanilla. Let beat on high-speed for two minutes until light and fluffy.
Remove the brittle from the refrigerator and break it up into small chunks with a knife (or your fists) and set aside.
Put a small dollop of icing on a cake plate to act as glue. Put the first layer of the cake, flat side up, on a the cake plate. Spread a thick layer of frosting on the first layer and sprinkle with broken pieces of brittle. Press the brittle into the icing. Place the second cake layer on top and dump on all the remaining icing. (It will be a lot of icing) Using an icing or angled spatula, push the icing to the edges of the cake and ice the sides, moving in smooth strokes to get smooth sides. Smooth the top of the cake and put the excess brittle on the top of the cake.
Serves 8-12 people.