Category Archives: maple

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}A week on Swan’s Island is never enough time. It simply isn’t. Yes, there’s relaxing and hiking and quiet, but just when you start to fully decompress, you have to get back on the ferry, drive ten hours, and return to your real life. It’s the worst.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}We keep saying “two weeks next year” but only getting half of that. I’m putting it out to the universe now: one month next year. That way, when we only get half, it’ll be two weeks. Am I trying to con the universe in to more vacation? Sure, why not. You can’t blame me for wanting to spend time with the friends we’ve made up there (even socially distanced) instead of carrying on entire relationships via Facebook.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}I mean, would you believe that I’ve pretty much never baked for anyone on Swan’s Island? It’s true. I’ve been going there regularly for the last six years, made some friends, and know the people who own the general store well enough that they recognized me immediately with my mask on, but I’ve never really baked for any of them. They know, of course, that I bake and blog, and I always say I’m going to make something for them, but then time gets away and suddenly I’m on the ferry back to the mainland.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}All that said, when we booked our trip in July, I decided this year was *the* year. I tested a recipe before I left Brooklyn, brought a box of potato starch and the vegan butter I like, and it took until the second-to-last day, but I baked this Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting for my Maine people. Finally.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}I’ve never put a sheet cake on here. It’s not because I think they’re “less than” or something—I just have occasions for other configurations of cake and frosting far more frequently than I do for this super simple slice-and-share situation. But our annual Swan’s Island trip? That’s a slice-and-share situation if I’ve ever seen one. Especially in COVID, when get-togethers with people outside my immediate germ pod aren’t a thing, it was so nice to be able to wrap up and dole out slices of this Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting without having to worry about keeping layers intact.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}As with most of what we eat on Swan’s Island, this cake was made with my trusty co-traveler/fellow Maine enthusiast, VJ, in mind. I’ve mentioned many times that she is a gluten-free vegan, and though I am not either of those things, I greatly enjoy the challenges and rewards of baking (and cooking) that way when we are together. It’s far more fun to bake when people can eat what you make…not that I’d be particularly mad about being saddled with all 15 slices of this cake. I mean, do you see that vegan Maple Frosting???Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}The pumpkin cake is a variation on the vegan, gluten-free chocolate cake I posted last year. It relies primarily on almond flour, potato starch and cornstarch for structure, and pumpkin purée and pumpkin pie spice for flavor. There are other things in the batter too, of course (granulated and brown sugars, vanilla, leaveners, almond milk), and they all bake up into a moist, tender, nicely-spiced sheet of cake. Vegan and gluten-free or not, this pumpkin cake is legit.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Believe me when I tell you that I understand wanting to eat this cake by its lonesome straight out of the oven, or with a simple dusting of confectioner’s sugar…but also? Believe me when I tell you that a swoopy layer of Maple Frosting takes this seasonal dessert from very good to fabulous. For real.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting is very good the day it’s made, but as with many pumpkin spice things, it’s actually more delicious the next day, after the flavors have melded. But with a cake this good around, I can’t blame anyone for not waiting to dig in. I mean, I certainly didn’t.Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes a single layer 9×13-inch sheet cake

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
~1 1/4 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup pure pumpkin purée
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (not almond meal)
3/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

For finishing:
Vegan Maple Frosting (recipe below)
sprinkle of ground cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13-inch cake pan. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Pour apple cider vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add almond milk until liquid reaches the 1 1/4 cup mark. Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until curdled. Stir in pumpkin purée and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together blanched almond flour, potato starch, cornstarch, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add liquid ingredients in two installments, whisking until combined.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth to the edges with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Transfer to the oven and bake 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out with only a few crumbs.

Let cake cool completely in its pan on a cooling rack. Run a thin knife along the edges of the pan before inverting to release onto a platter (alternatively, you may keep it in the pan and serve from there). Frost as desired with Vegan Maple Frosting (recipe below). Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.

Frosted cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days and refrigerated for up to 4. Unfrosted cake may be triple-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before frosting.

Vegan Maple Frosting
makes enough for the top of one sheet cake

4 ounces (1/2 cup) vegan butter, room temperature (I like Miyoko’s)
2 ounces (1/4 cup) shortening, room temperature (I like Nutiva)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat vegan butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Mix in confectioners sugar in two installments, mixing until combined and fluffy. Mix in salt, followed by vanilla and maple syrup.

Use to frost the top of the sheet cake.

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Maple Frosting {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Maple Scones

Maple SconesMaple Scones are one of my favorite things. They’re so simple and good, and every time I have one, I get nostalgic for the days when I was learning beginner baking basics in a studio apartment I shared with an ex-boyfriend.Maple SconesA lot has changed in seven years, and also very little. I moved into a larger apartment. I got over the boyfriend (finally, and to my great relief). I have a much larger kitchen now. In fact, it’s so big that my work station is in the living room/dining area, and my (second) pantry and a dedicated dairy fridge are in my bedroom. I have a great roommate, who more-than-tolerates my kitchen time and is one of my dearest friends. I’ve taken all those baking basics and built them into more complex things, the way people do when they’re really excited about something.

On that note, I’m still really excited about home baking. I still bake everyday while listening to The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC—I never miss it. And in the fall, I still get nostalgic for Maple Scones which, in turn, make me nostalgic for that terrible, tiny, dark kitchen where I learned how to properly measure flour by volume.Maple SconesMaple SconesThe first scones I ever made were the very good Maple Scones from Dinner with Julie. I made them over and over as-written, but ever so slowly, I’ve experimented with different scone methods and transformed what was once her recipe into mine. Half-and-half has become heavy cream, I’ve reduced the butter and upped the baking powder, I’ve added butter to the glaze. I kept the brown sugar and maple syrup, obviously. The results are mapley, fluffy and flaky with edges that are somehow both nubbly and tender.Maple SconesWhat I’m saying is that I make a hell of a maple scone. And now, seven years into baking and almost five into this blog, you can too. And maybe one day, when this post is seven years old, you’ll look back and realize that my recipe has ever so slowly become yours.Maple Scones

Maple Scones
makes 8 scones

3/4 cup heavy cream + more for brushing, very cold
2 tablespoons maple syrup (I use Grade A dark amber, robust taste)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes

Glaze:
2 tablespoons maple syrup + more to preference
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Make the scones. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together heavy cream and maple syrup. Refrigerate.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use a pastry blender or clean fingertips to cut the butter into the flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in heavy cream mixture until a shaggy dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Pat it to 3/4-inch thick circle. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice circle into 8 wedges. Place scones at least 2 inches apart on prepared pan. Brush with more heavy cream. Bake 15-16 minutes, until puffed and golden at the edges. Let scones cool on the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, or until they can be handled.

Make the glaze. Combine maple syrup and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in 20 second increments, stirring between, until butter is melted. Whisk in confectioner’s sugar and salt. Glaze should be very thick, but drizzlable. Add more maple syrup by the teaspoon until your desired consistency is reached. Drizzle glaze over scones.

Scones may be served warm or at room temperature. They are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Maple SconesMaple SconesMaple Scones

Maple Drizzle Cakes

Maple Drizzle CakesI feel like this fall is all about maple syrup. But based on last Friday’s round-up, I feel like every fall for the last four years has been about maple syrup.

What can I say? I am a maple syrup fangirl. I love its sweetness and nuance and amber color and near-undeniable deliciousness and I don’t think I’ll ever stop finding ways to spotlight it in my baking.Maple Drizzle CakesI mean, have you tried my Maple Thumbprints yet? Or my crowd-favorite Salty Maple Caramel Corn? Or the Maple Creme Sandwich Cookies I posted when I was a little baby blogger and just re-photographed last week? Because you should. But maybe start your autumnal maple-mania off with these Maple Drizzle Cakes. I’d love to give you a sentence qualifying why these cakes are somehow superior to all my other maple baked goods, but

  1. That’s silly. I love all maple baked goods with the same reckless abandon that I reserve for a holiday cookie platter or a puff pancake on a Saturday morning.
  2. Maple. Drizzle. Cakes. Need I say more???

Maple Drizzle CakesAs you may have guessed, these are an autumnal take on classic Lemon Drizzle Cakes. Like those cakes, these are rich and buttery, but instead of being flavored with three hits of citrus, these have three doses of pure maple syrup! You’ll find it in the cake batter, soaked into the baked cakes, and mixed into a thick icing that’s poured over the tops.Maple Drizzle Cakes

Oh, and these are easy to make. So, so easy. Just dump all the cake batter ingredients in one bowl and mix them for 3.5 minutes before dividing it among a couple of loaf pans and baking. Boom. Done.Maple Drizzle CakesAfter baking, tiny holes are poked in the warm cakes and maple syrup is brushed over the tops and allowed to soak in. Alternatively, you can cool the cakes and then brush on warmed maple syrup. No matter which method you choose, this will add extra moisture and flavor, and make your cakes extra delicious.Maple Drizzle CakesMaple Drizzle CakesThe icing is made primarily of maple syrup, confectioner’s sugar, melted butter and water. It goes on as a liquid, cascading down the sides of the cake before drying to a set finish. I like the icing recipe as written, but you could add another layer of flavor by browning the butter. You know, if you’re into things like that.Maple Drizzle CakesMaple Drizzle Cakes are great for any occasion. You could use them as hostess gifts, pack them carefully and mail them overnight to someone you love, leave one in the office break room, or even serve one as a non-pie Thanksgiving dessert (we all know a pie hater).

Or you can eat a thick slice with your fingers while you’re wearing your best/softest/oldest/most hideous pajamas and binging The Righteous Gemstones, and marvel at how great it is to live a life where you have both excellent cake and quality television. Or something.Maple Drizzle Cakes

Maple Drizzle Cakes
makes 2 9×5-inch loaf cakes

Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature

Syrup:
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

Icing Drizzle:
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoon water
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on the two long sides, and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Batter will be thick.

Transfer batter to prepared pans and smooth the tops with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes.

Stab warm cakes (still in their pans) several times with a thin, flexible knife or skewer, making sure to poke all the way to the bottom. Brush syrup evenly over the cakes, about 1/4 cup each. Let cakes soak in the syrup until they are completely cool.*

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set a cooling rack over the top. Use parchment overhang to remove soaked cakes from pans. Discard used parchment and place cakes on prepared cooling rack.

Make the icing. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar, maple syrup, butter, water, and salt. Mixture should be very thick, but pourable. If it’s too thick, add more water by the teaspoon. Pour over the centers of the cakes—the icing should “spread” itself, but you can coax it a bit with the back of a spoon. Let sit for 20 minutes to set. Move cakes to a serving plate before slicing and serving.

Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days or in the refrigerator for up to five. Maple flavor will intensify over time.

Note:

You may also let the cakes cool before brushing on the maple syrup. Simply let them cool in their pans before lifting them out onto a rack that has been set over a piece of parchment (exactly as it’s written in the icing step). Poke them with a skewer. Warm the maple syrup slightly (10-15 seconds in the microwave will do the trick) before brushing it onto the cakes. Let soak 30 minutes before applying the icing.Maple Drizzle CakesMaple Drizzle CakesMaple Drizzle Cakes

Friday Favorites: Maple Syrup

Hello from San Francisco! I’m visiting to celebrate my best friend, Tad’s 35th birthday (it’s today!) and do whatever people do in San Francisco. I’ve never been here before, so I’m excited to find out what that is. So far, it’s seeing Hamilton (again!) on tour and going to Sausalito.

What all this has to do with maple syrup and baking, I don’t know. What I do know is that I love to cook and bake with maple syrup, especially this time of year. It’s so delicate, but has incredible depth and versatility. I love it on pancakes and waffles, of course, but I’ve used it in everything from cookies to cake to nut butter to popcorn to pie! I’ve even got a new maple-centric recipe coming at you next week. But first, here are five of my favorite maple recipes from the archives.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupMaple Creme Sandwich Cookies

This is the first maple-based recipe ever to appear on this blog, and one of the first recipes to appear on this blog, period. I hated the photos, and so have sort of buried it in the archives…but no more! I re-baked the recipe this week, so now the photos reflect how delicious these chewy, creme-filled sandwich cookies actually are. Oh, they are goooood. I’ve had more than a few people claim these are the best cookies they’ve ever eaten. I don’t know about that, but I mean…they’re not not the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupMaple Layer Cake

I made this cake on a whim last fall and it’s still one of my favorite recipes on this site! It’s easy to see why. There’s plenty of pure maple syrup baked into and brushed onto the cake layers, and plenty more whipped into buttercream! This would make a great fall birthday cake or non-pie Thanksgiving dessert.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupMaple Pecan Pie

I made this pie nearly three years ago when this blog turned one! It’s got all the sweet, sticky, gooey nuttiness you want in a pecan pie, but it’s made with pure maple syrup instead of the usual dark corn syrup.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupMaple-Roasted Pecan Butter

If you’ve never made homemade pecan butter, go do it right now. Don’t forget to add a little maple syrup and spice and to spread it on every piece of bread and fruit in your house.

Friday Favorites: Maple SyrupSalty Maple Caramel Corn

Y’all, storebought caramel corn has nothing on this salty, maple-spiked homemade version. Not. A. Thing. Sweet & salty with a crisp, glass-like exterior—good luck not eating the entire batch yourself!Friday Favorites: Maple Syrup

Have you made these or any of my other maple treats? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Maple Thumbprints

Maple ThumbprintsIt may have been 90 degrees in NYC this past Monday, but nobody is happier than I am that fall is finally here, not least because it means I have an excuse to make these Maple Thumbprints.Maple ThumbprintsAnd make them, I have—five test batches before getting them just right. I used the dough from my Maple Spice Stars as a starting place, and then adjusted the spice, sugars, and leavener until I achieved exactly what I wanted: a puffy, slightly soft maple cookie with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg and a well of maple icing in the center. The ideal accompaniment to a cup of tea on a fall afternoon, you know?Maple ThumbprintsIf you love maple syrup like I do, these cookies are for you. The dough contains 2/3 cup and the icing has another 1/4 cup! I vastly prefer Grade A Dark Amber & Robust Taste (formerly known as Grade B) for its deep flavor, but any pure maple syrup you have will do the trick.Maple ThumbprintsMaple ThumbprintsMaple ThumbprintsMaple, like pumpkin, is a flavor that improves over time. Though these cookies will taste good immediately after they’re baked and filled, they won’t taste particularly maple-y until a few hours later. By the next day, you’ll have no problem finding the sweet nuances of maple syrup in both the cookies and the icing.Maple ThumbprintsYou’ll notice that many of the maple cookie recipes out there (including this one) call for maple extract for a richer flavor. This is because maple is a delicate flavor in baking, easily masked by its own sweetness. To that point, I tested both the dough and icing with 1/2 teaspoon each of maple extract (I like Boyajian), and while it works and certainly amplifies the flavor, I don’t think this recipe needs it. I did multiple taste tests and preferred the cookies made with only maple syrup every time. If you feel otherwise, feel free to add some extract. To each their own!Maple ThumbprintsThe point, as always, is to bake the cookies you want to eat. And to bake for the weather you want, not the weather you have. At least, that’s what I’m doing. If it means I’m eating autumnal cookies while sitting in front of a blasting air conditioner and praying for some crunchy leaves to step on, so be it.Maple Thumbprints

Maple Thumbprints
makes about 4.5 dozen cookies

Cookies:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup pure maple syrup (I like Grade A dark amber & robust taste)
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Icing:
3 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3-4 teaspoons water

Make the cookies. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in brown and granulated sugars, followed by the maple syrup. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Turn the mixer to low, and add the dry ingredients in three installments, stopping frequently to scrape the bowl.

Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove dough from the refrigerator. Scoop dough by the tablespoon and roll each into a ball. Place dough balls at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Use the back of a very small spoon (like a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon) to slowly press a well into each dough ball. They may crack a bit—just smooth them with your fingers.

Bake cookies 12-13 minutes, rotating top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Cookies are done when puffed and no longer wet-looking. When you remove the cookies from the oven, press the back of a small spoon (I use a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon) into the centers again. Let cookies cool on the pans for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling and baking process with all remaining dough, letting the cookie sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Arrange cookies on a parchment or wax paper-lined surface for filling.

Make the icing. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar, salt, maple syrup, and 3 teaspoons of water until smooth. Add more water by the 1/2 teaspoon, if needed, until the glaze is thick but pourable.

Transfer icing to a piping bag (or ziptop sandwich bag), twist it tight and snip off a very small corner. Fill wells in cookies as desired.

Icing will set after a few hours. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Place wax paper between layers for easiest storage.Maple ThumbprintsMaple Thumbprints