Food impersonating other food is a dime a dozen these days: cauliflower rice, vegan burgers, nut cheese. I don’t have a problem with any of that. Live and let eat, I say. But once in a while, it’s nice to come across a dish that merely reminds you of something else — a whisper of a memory rather than a straight-on simulation.
So, do you like pancakes with maple syrup? Good, because then you’re going to love this Sour Cream Maple Cake With Maple Buttercream Frosting.
The cake comes together in minutes in a single bowl, which you can clean out and use to make an equally speedy frosting. The cake is lofty, tender and golden. Despite the inclusion of maple syrup, granulated and brown sugars, it does not come across as cloying, or even that sweet at all. The inclusion of sour cream certainly helps, there and in the frosting. That frosting brings a very nice touch (it’s fairly rich, which is why we have suggested as many as 16 servings), but know that the cake on its own would make a great addition to a brunch spread.
The only reason I’m resisting making this cake a weekly occurrence is that it does indeed call for more than a cup of maple syrup total. We all know the stuff is not cheap. The flavor, though, is absolutely worth it — at least once in a while — and if you can buy your syrup in bulk or on a visit to a maple-syrup-producing region, all the better. You want to look for dark-grade maple syrup, such as Grade A dark color/robust flavor or Grade A very dark/strong flavor.
Now pull on a flannel, get your fireplace crackling and enjoy this breakfast as cake. Or is it cake as breakfast? Either way, it’s a winner.
SOUR CREAM MAPLE CAKE WITH MAPLE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
12 to 16 servings (makes one 9-inch cake)
If you like maple-syrup drenched pancakes, you’re going to love this dessert. The sour cream in both the cake and frosting temper what could otherwise be a cloying confection. The cake comes together in minutes in a single bowl, which you can clean out and use to make an equally speedy frosting. The frosting is a nice touch (it’s fairly rich, which is why we have suggested as many as 16 servings), but know that the cake on its own would make a great addition to a brunch spread.
Look for dark-grade maple syrup, such as Grade A dark color/robust flavor or Grade A very dark/strong flavor.
Make Ahead: The baked cake can be made a day in advance and stored, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.
For the cake:
Unsalted butter, softened, for greasing the pan
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dark-grade pure maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the frosting
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons sour cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons dark-grade pure maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over the sides of the pan (the overhang will give you handles to lift out the cake after it’s baked).
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the maple syrup, oil, milk, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, sour cream and vanilla, and stir with a rubber spatula just until combined and no streaks of flour remain. (There will be some lumps in the batter; this is okay.) Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan on the counter eight times to release air bubbles.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until deep golden and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, covering with foil after 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning. (It may dip in the middle, but don’t worry.) Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Using the parchment overhang as handles, remove cake from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the frosting: In the same (cleaned-out) bowl you used to make the cake, beat the butter with a handheld mixer on medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. (You can do this in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, if you prefer.) Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until combined. Add the sour cream, maple syrup and salt, and beat at medium-high speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not overbeat.
Spread the frosting onto the cooled cake. Drizzle with additional maple syrup and serve.
Adapted from a recipe in the September-October issue of Bake From Scratch magazine.