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Maple-Nut Upside-Down Cake

Maple-Nut Upside-Down Cake
5 votes, 4.60 avg. rating (89% score)
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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.

Maple-pecan upside-down cake
Maple-pecan upside-down cake

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.

IMG_5720The 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.

IMG_5719Transfer 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.


Amy Traverso


Amy Traverso


Senior lifestyle editor Amy Traverso oversees Yankee's Food and Home & Garden departments and contributes articles to the magazine. Amy book, The Apple Lover's Cookbook (W.W. Norton), won an International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) cookbook award for the category American. Follow !
Updated Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

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3 Responses to Maple-Nut Upside-Down Cake

  1. barbara lauterbach April 4, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    As long as I make it with KA flour, it’s in the oven already! Great for church coffee hour tomorrow.
    Maple syrup is such a flexible additive! Made Maple Mustard vinaigrette for an event yesterday, people scoffed it down on their “micro greens” from Moulton Farm, up the road.
    Thanks Amy,for the recipe!

  2. Suzanne DeWitt April 11, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    I LOVE the vintage recipes that have been posted recently! I’m a fan and collector of old cookbooks, so these articles just tickle me purple. Thanks so much for writing them.

  3. Shell La Pointe May 31, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

    I made this cake today. I used walnuts instead of
    pecans. So it was a maple walnut cake. A delicate
    light yellow cake with a great maple walnut topping.
    We served it with whip cream. It looks nice too.
    It is a single layer. Will make it again. Loved it.

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