Maple-Nut Upside-Down Cake
Today’s weather is such an improvement over the past, oh, five months, that I want to fire up the grill and eat corn on the cob. But rather than get ahead of myself, I’m opting to share a terrific maple-pecan cake recipe that I discovered in a 1975 cookbook called Treasured Recipes from Early New England Kitchens.
The book was written by Marjorie Page Blanchard and published as a joint venture between Garden Way Publishing and Harrington’s, the longstanding purveyor of Vermont hams, Cheddar, maple syrup, and the like.
The recipe itself is simple: Pour maple syrup into a cake pan and sprinkle with nuts (the original calls for walnuts; I used pecans). Make a batter using the conventional creaming method, pour into the pan, spread carefully and bake. I made a few tweaks (increasing the nuts, decreasing the sugar and baking powder) and found the recipe to be a real charmer, perfect for an early spring dessert.
Maple-Nut Upside-Down Cake
The charm of this cake lies in its tender, buttery crumb and rich maple-nut flavor. Because it’s so similar to pineapple upside-down cake, we wondered if we’d miss the addition of the tart fruit, but it’s perfectly delicious on its own.
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes; hands-on time: 20 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 3/4 cup roughly chopped pecans or walnuts
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2/3 cup milk
- Garnish: whipped cream, maple syrup
Preheat your oven to 350° and set a rack to the middle position. Generously butter a 9-inch cake pan. Pour the maple syrup into the pan and sprinkle all over with the nuts.
In the bowl of a standing mixer (or, if using hand-held beaters, in a large bowl), beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, and mixing after each.
Using a large spoon, add the batter to the prepared cake pan in large dollops.
Use a spatula (preferably an offset spatula) to carefully spread the batter around the pan and over the syrup and nuts. It helps to dip the spatula in warm water so the batter doesn’t stick to it.
Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cake stand for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn the cake out onto a serving plate. Serve topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of maple syrup.