I've spent several hours looking for an interesting cake using maple syrup and pecan nuts, over the last few days. Most seem to rely mainly on their visual appeal - multiple layers of light sponge sandwiched with fluffy billowing frosting; I wasn't convinced there would be much flavour in them, and as a family we're not keen on these types of cakes anyway. Some recipes only used a few tablespoons of maple syrup in the cake batter, others used a whole 350ml bottle, which seemed a bit excessive, not to say confusing. How could I decide what would make a well flavoured cake with so much variation? I even looked for recipes using honey, thinking I could substitute maple syrup for the honey, but still couldn't find anything that appealed.
Lateral thinking was required. Who publishes interesting and unusual recipes? Blindingly obvious answer, of course, at least to British bakers - Dan Lepard! A search of his weekly Guardian recipes came up with this Honey and Walnut Cake - it was a simple step to substitute maple syrup and pecan nuts, and I also added half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. I wanted a round cake, so used a 19cm diameter springform tin, base lined with baking parchment.
The recipe was simple to follow, albeit a little unorthodox in the method and order of combining the ingredients. My cake, in it's round tin, cooked in the time suggested in the recipe. The result, although not a pretty cake, was a triumph of subtle flavours - apart from the pecan nuts, it wasn't easy to identify any of the other flavours, but they combined to make a delicious cake with a sturdy moist, but not too dense, texture. The addition of coffee cut the expected sweetness of the cake, as Dan explained in his notes about the cake.
If I'd had more syrup available I might have added a maple glacé icing, with a few chopped pecans scattered over, but I had to empty the bottle (and use a tablespoon of honey) to get enough for the cake. Note to self for next time, I think!
So once again, I have Dan Lepard to thank for the inspiration for a really tasty cake - I guess I should try the original version with honey and walnuts sometime, as I'm usually pretty scathing about people who write that they tried a particular recipe, but added this ingredient and changed that ingredient - especially if they are complaining that it didn't work, or they didn't like it! I think it's a mark of respect to the work that recipe creators do, to try the recipe, as it is written, at least once - sorry Dan!