This Maple Cake is packed with pure, natural maple flavor throughout. Maple cake layers with a maple buttercream and maple streusel.
It is cold and rainy today, and I’m in heaven. We’ve gone from 35°C temps just a couple days ago down to 15°C. It’s a drastic change, but I am not complaining. It’s been a ridiculously hot summer.
So, I am welcoming Fall with open arms and kicking it off a little early with this Maple Cake!
Truthfully, it’s all I could do to restrain myself from inundating you with Fall recipes even earlier. I feel like late August is an acceptable time to start thinking about all things Fall — if you’re like me, you’ve probably been dreaming about those cool, crisp Fall days for weeks now.
This Maple Cake I bring you today is packed with all-natural maple flavor throughout.
In general, I prefer to not use extracts and emulsions for flavoring if I can help it, so I’ve used pure maple syrup and maple sugar in the cake and frosting, as well as an amazing maple liqueur (Cabot Trail) that I didn’t even know existed until a couple months ago (thanks Toni!).
The maple liqueur is optional, but it gives the cake and frosting a nice kick.
How to Make this Maple Cake
For the maple cake layers, I modified my Vanilla Cake recipe, swapping out the granulated sugar and milk for some brown sugar, maple syrup, and maple liqueur. The cake layers have a delicious maple flavor on their own and would pair equally well with a plain Vanilla Buttercream, but I wanted to go maple all the way.
The Maple Swiss meringue buttercream gave me some trouble though, in my experimenting. I initially tried to make it with straight up maple syrup. Basically egg whites and maple syrup. In my mind, this should have worked. I know it works for an Italian meringue, so it should have worked for a Swiss meringue, right? Well, it didn’t. Or at least the one time I tried, it didn’t.
It’s entirely possible that the error was on my end, and that I overheated the egg whites before whipping. They heated up much faster than they would with granulated sugar, and I should have kept a better eye on them. When I went to whip the meringue, it ballooned like crazy and filled my entire bowl almost instantly.
It was thick, dull, and almost chunky, the way straight up whipped egg whites would be if you overbeat them. Or something. So maybe the mistake was in the heating, but I didn’t want to waste another 6 eggs + 1 cup maple syrup to try again.
Instead, I opted for maple sugar. I had to order this online, which was a bit of a pain, but I’m sure you could find it in a local health(ier) food store. The maple sugar worked much better, but my meringue still didn’t get that typical glossy shine. I went with it anyhow, as it was stiff and otherwise okay, and added the butter. After some whipping the buttercream came together perfectly.
If you’re having a hard time finding maple sugar, or just don’t want to bother with it, you can give the maple syrup a try and let me know how it works out. Or you can just use light brown sugar instead, with maple syrup (or extract) for flavor.
The maple streusel was a total afterthought but one of my favorite parts of this Maple Cake. I had forgotten how much I love having a crunch layer in my cakes and how easy it is to do. Literally some flour, sugar, and butter stirred together and baked for 5mins. That’s it!
The maple streusel recipe below makes way more than you’ll need (probably twice as much), so feel free to cut it in half. I like to make a lot because I like to pick out the larger chunks of the streusel for the cake rather than the small crumbs, and there will always be small crumbs. You can always use the extra as a yogurt topping or something similar!
The design on the sides of the cake was really easy to do. I just did a thicker coat of frosting on the outside and smoothed it with my icing scraper, then ran an icing comb (the far left one pictured here) around the sides of the cake for the effect.
The maple flavor in this Maple Cake is amazing. Ryan says it reminds him of eating pancakes, and I honestly can’t think of a better compliment.
If you’re a maple fan or looking for that perfect recipe to ease into the Fall season, you will love this one!!
Looking for more Fall dessert recipes?
Tips for making this Maple Cake with Maple Streusel
- The recipe as-is will also work in two 8″ pans. For three 8″ pans, 1.5x the recipe.
- To make cupcakes, all you need to do is reduce the baking time — start checking at 15mins or so.
- The cooled cake layers can be baked ahead of time, double wrapped in plastic wrap, and frozen for up to 3 months. Take out 2-3 hours before assembly.
- The frosting can be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated for 1 week for frozen for 3 months. Bring to room temp and rewhip before using.
- Try to use good quality pure maple syrup for this recipe. I use a Grade A dark amber. Do not use pancake syrup.
- The maple liqueur is optional. You can sub in more maple syrup instead. Or you could pair it with something like bourbon!
- The eggs will take longer than normal to incorporate due to the small amount of granulated sugar, so be sure to whip well with each addition. Add a bit of the flour mixture after the last egg if needed to help it come together.
- The meringue may not be as shiny as a typical meringue due to the use of maple sugar vs granulated sugar.
- If you don’t want to bother with maple sugar, you can use light brown sugar instead and maple syrup (or extract) for flavor.
- This recipe makes much more maple streusel than you’ll need, but I like to have the option to pick out the larger chunks. Feel free to halve the recipe if you prefer or use the extra as a yogurt topping!
- If you like, you can add some chopped walnuts or pecans to the cake batter for even more flavor and crunch!
- Be sure to check my Swiss Meringue Buttercream post for tips and troubleshooting.
- Learn how to keep your cakes moist using Simple Syrup.
- To help ensure your cake layers bake up nice and flat, check out my How to Bake Flat Cake Layers post!
- 6 large egg whites
- 2 cups maple sugar
- 3 cups unsalted butter room temperature, cubed
- 6 Tbsp maple liqueur or maple syrup
- maple syrup optional
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour three 6″ (or two 8″) cake rounds and line with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
- In a measuring cup, combine maple syrup and maple liqueur (or milk).
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on med-high until pale and fluffy (approx 3mins). Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time fully incorporating after each addition.* Add vanilla.
- Alternate adding flour mixture and maple mixture, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of maple). Fully incorporating after each addition.
- Bake for 30-35mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
- Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10mins then turn out onto wire rack.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Whisk flour and maple sugar in a medium bowl. Add enough melted butter so that the mixture starts to clump. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for approx. 8mins. Cool completely. Break streusel apart if needed. **
Maple Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- Place egg whites and maple sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.***
- Place bowl over a double boiler on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and no longer grainy to the touch (approx. 3mins). Or registers 160F on a candy thermometer.
- Place bowl on your stand mixer and whisk on med-high until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)). The meringue may not have the shine of a typical meringue.
- Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth.****
- Add maple liqueur (or maple syrup) and whip until smooth.
- Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate. Drizzle with 2 tsps maple syrup if desired. Top with approximately 2/3 cup of buttercream. Spread evenly. Top with approx 1/3 cup of maple streusel. Press gently into buttercream.
- Repeat with next layer and place the final layer on top of the cake. Crumb coat the cake and chill in fridge for 20mins.
** This recipe makes much more than you’ll need, but I like to have the option to pick out the larger chunks. Feel free to halve the recipe if you prefer.
*** Wipe your mixer bowl and whisk down with lemon juice or vinegar to make sure it is completely grease free and make sure there is no trace of yolk in your whites or your meringue will not stiffen.
**** The buttercream may look like it’s curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth. If it looks soupy, place it in the fridge for 20mins and rewhip.
Originally published Aug 25, 2018