Maple Walnut Cake

This Maple Walnut Cake blends the warming flavors of maple and toasted nuts.  A slice of this cake is the perfect dessert at the end of a busy day!

This Maple Walnut Cake blends the warming flavors of maple and toasted nuts.  A slice of this cake is the perfect dessert at the end of a busy day!A couple of weeks ago, Laura had a haircut appointment up in Saratoga Springs, and I begged her to stop by the bulk section of a grocery store up there to get me some maple sugar.  “What’s in it for me?,” she joked.  “A slice of Maple Walnut Cake,” I told her.  The response: “Done.”  This Maple Walnut Cake is one of our favorite cakes (heck, isn’t every cake a favorite?  I mean it’s cake!).  Laura asked me why I was making this cake for the blog again, and I told her I’ve never actually posted this one.  I’ve made it several times over the years, but this Maple Walnut Cake never made it to the blog…until now!

This Maple Walnut Cake blends the warming flavors of maple and toasted nuts.  A slice of this cake is the perfect dessert at the end of a busy day!As I’ve mentioned before, I signed up to take baking classes at the local community college when we first moved up here.  We didn’t know anyone.  It was winter.  And I was locked in our apartment writing a dissertation about why smaller colleges and universities pursue expensive athletic programs.  I needed an outlet.  Oh, and we shared a wall with a neighbor who “practiced” his DJ skills…from 8am-2am.  Learning how to bake in a professional setting was a great outlet.

This Maple Walnut Cake blends the warming flavors of maple and toasted nuts.  A slice of this cake is the perfect dessert at the end of a busy day!

What is Maple Sugar

One cold Wednesday afternoon, I showed up in class, and I was assigned this Maple Walnut Cake.  I like maple.  I like walnuts.  Score!  But this cake is unique in that it uses maple sugar.  Have you ever heard of maple sugar?  It’s not just sugar with maple syrup mixed in.  Nope, maple sugar looks like light brown sugar, and it’s made from maple syrup.  More specifically, maple sugar is what happens when maple sap is cooked beyond the point needed for maple sugar.  It’s easier to think about maple sugar as maple syrup in granulated sugar form.

This Maple Walnut Cake blends the warming flavors of maple and toasted nuts.  A slice of this cake is the perfect dessert at the end of a busy day!

Maple sugar is expensive.  There’s no getting around it.  After all, it starts from pure maple syrup, and it takes roughly 4 cups of maple syrup to make 3 cups of maple sugar.  But it’s so worth it!  We can find maple sugar here in the northeast in the bulk sections at several co-ops and larger grocery stores, but you can also order it online.  I imagine you could also substitute light brown sugar for this Maple Walnut Cake, but that version won’t have the wonderful maple flavor.  If you’re looking for a unique and fun cake, then make this Maple Walnut Cake.  Trust me when I say that maple sugar is magical!  (I’ve also seen this method for making maple sugar at home, but I’ve never tried it.)

This Maple Walnut Cake blends the warming flavors of maple and toasted nuts.  A slice of this cake is the perfect dessert at the end of a busy day!

Maple Walnut Cake

Back to this cake.  The warming smells and flavors of maple and toasted nuts come together to create a cake that will leave folks begging for another slice.  Trust me!  We actually had to slice this cake up and freeze it to keep ourselves from going crazy and eating it all in a single weekend.  We’ve taken this cake to friends’ and neighbors’ houses, and it always gets high reviews.  It’s delicious!

This Maple Walnut Cake blends the warming flavors of maple and toasted nuts.  A slice of this cake is the perfect dessert at the end of a busy day!

I used a classic American buttercream with the addition of a bit of maple syrup for this cake, but Laura pointed out that a cream cheese frosting would work here, too.  She’s right.  Although the ingredients aren’t the same, this cake does remind me a bit of carrot cake thanks to the chopped nuts.  And carrot cake goes well with cream cheese frosting.  Hmmm…guess I’ll need to ask Laura to get me some more maple sugar next time she gets a haircut!

This Maple Walnut Cake blends the warming flavors of maple and toasted nuts.  A slice of this cake is the perfect dessert at the end of a busy day!

I hope you enjoy this Maple Walnut Cake as much as we do.  It’s one of our favorites!  If you make this cake, swing back by and leave a comment…or better yet, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).  Cheers, friends!

Looking for more fun cake ideas?  Check these out, too!

Southern Pecan Praline Cake
Charleston Coconut Cake
Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake
Chocolate Ombre Cake
Oreo Cake

This Maple Walnut Cake blends the warming flavors of maple and toasted nuts.  A slice of this cake is the perfect dessert at the end of a busy day!

Maple Walnut Cake

This Maple Walnut Cake blends the warming flavors of maple and toasted nuts.  A slice of this cake is the perfect dessert at the end of a busy day!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 602kcal

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • cups maple sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup walnuts chopped

For the Frosting

  • 3 cups walnuts chopped
  • cups unsalted butter, softened
  • cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Instructions

For the Cake

  • Grease and flour (3) 8” round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper; set pans aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Using a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, maple sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy (~3-4 minutes on medium speed).
  • Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until well combined.
  • Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl; mix on low speed until well combined.
  • Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract and half of the milk to the bowl; mix on low speed until well combined.
  • Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, mixing after each addition until well combined. (Tip: Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are fully mixed.)
  • Fold the chopped walnuts into the batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the 3 cake pans. Bake at 350°F for 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Let cakes stand for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack until completely cool.

For the Frosting

  • Spread walnuts onto a sheet pan and bake at 350°F for 6-8 minutes, or until fragrant; set walnuts aside.
  • Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, cream butter, powdered sugar and salt together on a low speed until smooth.
  • Add maple syrup, milk and vanilla extract; mix until well combined. (Note: If frosting is too loose, add a couple more tbsps of powdered sugar. If frosting is too thick, add a tbsp of milk.)

To Frost Cake

  • Place one layer of cake on large platter. Spread ~1 cup of frosting on top. Repeat with 2nd and 3rd layers of cake.
  • Use remaining frosting on top and sides of cake. {Optional} If desired, use a small star tip to decorate top and bottom edges of cake.
  • Press chopped walnuts into sides of the cake.

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26 Comments

  1. This is my new favorite cake and I haven’t even had a bite yet. Maple and walnuts? Count me in for both! I’ve never worked with maple sugar before and I’m intrigued and already wondering what other uses I could find for it. I so wish I had a slice of this with my coffee right now! Have a great weekend, David!

    1. Maple + walnuts just screams fall to me! The toasted nuts are delicious, and the maple sugar is just a unique ingredient. It brings so much maple flavor! It’s a bit pricey, but I find that it’s worth it when you want to bring the maple flavor out in a recipe. Give it a shot sometime! Thanks, Kelsie. I hope you had a great weekend, my friend!

  2. Maple and walnuts are a match made in heaven! This cake looks absolutely delicious, David! I want to reach through my screen and snatch that slice!! 😉

    1. Thank you so much, Marissa! I agree with you that maple + walnuts are just meant to go together. I love the texture of the toasted walnuts combined with the maple flavor in this cake. So tasty!! 🙂

    1. Maple sugar is a unique ingredient, Frank. It’s delicious! It’s a bit pricey…it’s made from maple syrup after all…but I find that it’s worth the price when you want to really bring out the maple flavor in a recipe. This cake? One of my all-time favorites! I probably make this one at least once a year (usually in the fall). Thanks so much, my friend!

  3. A very professional looking cake you’ve made there. This will go well over this way as walnuts (and almonds) are the primary nut used in baking here. Maple not so much, so that’s where I’ll get my Swedish friends taste buds going.

    1. Why thank you so much, Ron! This cake is a bit on the pricier side thanks to all of the walnuts and that maple sugar…but it’s so worth it! I probably make this cake about once a year (usually in the fall). We eat several slices, and then we freeze the rest to pull out on a cold winter day. Nothing cheers you up after shoveling snow like a slice of Maple Walnut Cake! 🙂

    1. Yes! Definitely order some maple sugar, Kathy. It’s a bit on the pricey side as it’s made from maple syrup…but it’s so worth it when you want to bring out the maple flavor in a recipe. I love this cake for that reason! So much maple flavor, and then the toasted walnuts compliment it so well. Thanks so much!

  4. I’m definitely going to have to jump on getting maple sugar! Question . . . . do you think if I mixed a good quality maple syrup with a somewhat coarse granulated sugar, I could get something similar?
    This cake looks SO good! Hoping it’s okay if I have it at the end of a not-so-busy day too. 😉

    1. So my sister actually tried that experiment with mixing sugar and maple syrup a couple of years ago…she said it didn’t work too well. I might be intrigued enough to try making my own maple sugar (link in post) sometime though. It is a bit more expensive, but it’s so worth it when you want to highlight the maple flavor in a recipe! Thanks so much, my friend!

    1. Maple sugar is a fun ingredient, Dawn. It’s made from pure maple syrup, and it really brings out the maple flavor in a recipe. Give it a shot sometime! 🙂

  5. That seems like a fair trade off – picking up maple sugar in exchange for some cake 😉 I have maple sugar , but haven’t used in a whole lot, but this cake totally changes things! Paired with that yummy maple syrup infused frosting, must make for one wicked bite. You’ve definitely been holding out sharing this one with us, but totally glad you did!! Can’t wait to try 🙂 Happy Monday, David!

    1. This cake does call for a fair amount of maple sugar, Dawn…but trust me when I say it’s worth it! Add in the toasted walnuts, and you’ve got a dessert that’s perfect for fall. This is hands-down one of my favorite cakes, and I’ve probably made it 5-6 times since I first learned about this one. I was shocked when I looked back and realized that I’ve never posted it! Definitely put this one on the holiday menu, my friend. It’s so good! 🙂

  6. Lol – I love how Laura’s mind works – anything for cake – especially a slice of this cake! I am love the flavor of maple sugar in treats- but you aren’t kidding about the price factor – though once in a blue moon it’s well worth the splurge!

    1. It’s definitely worth it to splurge when it comes to maple sugar! The price comes from the fact that it’s pure maple syrup…so it’s totally worth it when you want to bring a strong maple flavor to a recipe. I do want to try making it at home sometime, but the process looks a bit involved. Maybe on a snow day!

  7. I know that feeling when it takes a few attempts to get the recipe on up the blog. Certainly there can be various reasons (like perfecting the recipe or being lazy to use the camera), but I bet that happened cause this maple walnut cake is super delicious, and Laura and you just couldn’t wait until pictures were taken. Am I right? Are you guilty? But I do understand you, and I’m not the one to judge you. But I’d like to get a huge slice of this cake for my silence 🙂

    1. Haha! You caught me, Ben. I just couldn’t bare to wait for the pictures of this cake. Truthfully, it’s more like I was taking the cake somewhere, and didn’t have time to stop and take pictures (or slice the cake) before we needed to leave. But thank you for keeping my secret. I’ll save you a slice!

  8. David, I’m in such a dillema. This cake looks so delicious, and I happen to have a bottle of the most exquisite maple syrup I’ve ever tasted … but walnuts are one of the few things my husband dislikes. As I read through your recipe, I thought about other nuts, but the walnuts sound so perfect in this context and I LOVE walnuts! Of course I’m not so cold-hearted that I’d fill the air with the scent of a cake that my husband won’t eat. Or am I?

    1. Interesting. That is a dilemma indeed, Jeff. Perhaps you could make the cake for an event? And by event, I mean you sitting in the closet by yourself with a slice of this cake…that qualifies, right? Perhaps pecans could work here? I’ve only ever used walnuts, but pecans and maple do go well together, too. I say try it out…this cake is just too good!

  9. Maple sugar eh? Interesting! I’ve never heard of that so as usual I’m intrigued and will have to investigate that more to see if it’s available here. But if it’s not I think I could use the light brown demerara sugar I’ve got in my baking cupboard. Lovely cake David. You’ve got me hungry for a slice of it now! 🙂

    1. Maple sugar is a bit more difficult to find that say regular maple syrup, but there’s always Amazon! (Plus, it’s worth the effort to track this stuff down for recipes where you want that maple flavor.) Demerara sugar is tasty, but it just won’t bring the same flavor here. (I’ve tried substituting other sugars. The cake is good, but not great.) Either way, happy baking, my friend!!

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