October 20, 2013

The Cake Slice Baker's October 2013 - Old Vermont Burnt Sugar Cake With Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

It is so hard to believe that a year has gone by since we chose Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson as the cookbook would be baking from in 2012-13.  It has been such a pleasure to bake with everyone in the Cake Slice Baker's group, and I am looking forward to our new book which will be revealed with next months post. As this is our last cake from the book it was decided that rather than vote on one cake, we would all choose the cake we wanted to make.  In some ways this was harder than voting because I kept looking through the book and then changing my mind.  I finally got it down to four cakes before I settled on the Old Vermont Burnt Sugar Cake With Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. It just seemed fitting for this time of the year.

In the book Julie Richardson describes how burnt sugar syrup was used to flavor cakes before the invention of extracts such as vanilla or almond.  The syrup is simple to make and gives this cake a wonderful toffee-caramel taste.  For me it brought back memories of making toffees for school fetes and cake sales, that were slightly soft and very chewy (or as we called them stickjaws), or so hard that you could suck on them for hours.

This cake does take a little time, and there will quite a bit of washing up, but it is so worth it.  It could be done in one day but I would recommend making it over two days - day 1 make the cake layers, the frosting and do a crumb coat and then day 2 assemble the cake.  By doing this you will allow the flavor to develop in the frosting, and the whole cake will taste even better.  I did find that the small amount of coffee in the frosting did somewhat overpower the maple flavoring, and even though the frosting was great, I am going to omit that next time. This cake has a lovely soft crumbly texture and it was definitely hard to stop at one piece, but I would have to say that the frosting is the star of this cake.

We have voted on and baked 12 cakes from Vintage Cakes over the past 12 months. Sometimes the cake I voted for won, and sometimes it did not.  Rather than be disappointed or worried when another cake won the vote, I was excited because this gave me a chance to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new. Each cake was truly special in its own way and I learned many techniques I had not tried before.  If I had to pick one favorite it would have to be the Lemon and Almond Streamliner Cake, with the Honey Bee Cake coming in a close second.  Below is a list of the cakes we made ~

November 2012 - Shoo-Fly Cake
March 2013 - Honey Bee Cake
May 2013 - The Pink Cake
September 2013 - Butterscotch Cream Roll-up

I am really looking forward to seeing what cakes all of my fellow Cake Slice Baker's have chosen as their final cake from Vintage Cakes.  Don't forget to check out of Facebook Page for other goodies that we have baked and some great tips.  And if you are interested in joining our group and baking along with us for our next book there is still time - just email Paloma at love.for.coffee at gmail dot com.

Old Vermont Burnt Sugar Cake With Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

Burnt Sugar Syrup ~
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup hot water
Cake ~
  • 2½ all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¾ unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1¾ sugar
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting ~
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)

Burnt Sugar Syrup ~
  1. Place the sugar in a small saucepan that is very clean.
  2. Over medium heat, swirl the pan gently to dissolve the sugar; avoid the temptation or stirring, and simply continue swirling the pan until the sugar has melted and is amber in color. It will smoke slightly but don't worry - this is why it's called burnt sugar. 
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the hot water, a few drops at a time, being careful because the sugar will splatter.
  4. Once all the water has been added, put the pan back over medium heat and cook for an additional 5 minutes to reduce the syrup, occasionally stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate any sugar that is stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Remove the syrup from the heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
Cake ~
  1. Center an oven rack and preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. Grease three 8 by 2-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with greased parchment paper.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, then whisk the mixture by hand to ensure that all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and maple syrup on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes, making sure to stop the mixer frequently and scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  5. With your mixer on low speed, drizzle the oil and the vanilla unto the mixture until well combined. Blend in the egg yolks and the eggs one at a time, adding the next one as soon as the previous one has disappeared into the batter.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the milk and the burnt sugar syrup.
  7. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk-syrup mixture in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour. After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl. Stop the mixer before the last flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula. 
  8. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans (approximately 1 pound 3 ounces per pan) and smooth the tops.
  9. Bake until the cakes are golden and the centers spring back when lightly touched, 28 to 30 minutes. Right after you remove the cakes from the oven, run a thin knife around the edges of the cakes; the cakes will naturally shrink evenly.
  10. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Flip the cakes out of the pans, leaving the parchment paper until you assemble the cake. Let them continue to cool on the rack to room temperature, top sides up.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting ~
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, until it's smooth.
  2. Add the cream cheese and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and lump-free, about 1-minute more.
  3. Dissolve the espresso powder in the vanilla and blend this mixture into the frosting.
  4. Blend in the maple syrup.
  5. Continue mixing on medium-high speed, scraping the bowl as necessary to rid the frosting of stubborn lumps, until the frosting is well blended and has a smooth texture.
  6. If the frosting is too soft to work with, just place it in the refrigerator to firm up.
  7. This frosting keeps in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. If refrigerated, the frosting will need to be brought back to room temperature and re-whipped before using.
Cake Assembly ~
  1. Lay one of the cakes top side up on a flat plate.
  2. Using a metal spatula, frost the top with ¾ cup cream cheese frosting, spreading it out to the edge of the cake.
  3. Stack the second cake top side up on top of the frosted cake and spread another ¾ cup frosting on top of the cake.
  4. Stack the last layer of cake, also top side up, on top. Apply a thin layer of frosting all over the cake to create a "crumb coat" and place the cake in the refrigerator until the frosting is firm, about 15 minutes. Take it out and frost the cake with the remaining frosting.
  5. The cake should be served at room temperature. It keeps for up to 4 days stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Take it out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!

Recipe from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson


  1. oh wow! I have so many cakes I want to try! Seeing all of everyone's beautiful cakes now I don't know where to start! Your cake looks amazing! Your pictures are fantastic! Great job! Love it that you listed our cakes of the year! Great job!

  2. Your cake looks fabulous! I agree that so many months the cake I vote for doesn't win, but it does give us a chance to learn new things and try new tastes.

  3. Your cake turned out just beautiful! I considered that one for a moment but it seemed like more work than I could dedicate to it at this time. I'm so glad to read your review on it though. It looks so delicious. I'll have to try it sometime soon.

  4. Oh! And since I missed pretty much all year with this cake (sadly) I love that you linked the year's cakes. I am going to go through them now. Thanks!

  5. WOW, Felice.....your cake is STUNNING! So perfectly iced and it looks so moist! This cake crossed my mind, too. I will definitely find the time to make this one for sure. Your photos are beautiful....especially that one with the maple syrup drizzling down the side! Fabulous! : )

  6. Looks and sounds so very wonderful.

  7. Gorgeous, Felice! Thank you for the tips on making this cake.

    P.s. Loved reading about your days as a stick jaw fan.

  8. Your photos are absolutely stunning! This cake turned out fabulously and I cannot wait to make it myself :)

  9. This cake sounds great, I like the idea of flavouring the cake with the simple syrup, it must have been a moist cake indeed.

  10. You may think the frosting was the star, but that cake looks phenomenal! I will absolutely be trying this!

  11. Lots of work, yes. Worth it, indeed!! Thanks for the tip about the coffee flavor and thanks for these pictures. That syrup dripping down the side of the cake is about to send me over the edge!!

  12. Love your photos and the cake look delish!! So pretty. I am so going to have to make this!!

  13. Felice, your cake looks so gorgeous and divine :) My thumbs were going to and forth this recipe at first. Now I know that this cake is just superb!! I love how good your cake looks. I'll definitely put this cake on my to-try list ;)

  14. Oh my word... Felice! You're dam right all that's left are crumbs... I am sure not even the crumbs were left! The cake looks amazing... I agree with Sandra, the little syrup drop down the edge... WOW! I just want it all! :)

  15. I tried this cake the day I received the book in the mail and agree that the maple should be the star of the frosting.
    I love your ruffle border - its just right for this cake.


  16. Oh I must give this a go! It sounds divine and I had such success with your pina colada cake too! :D

  17. This sounds amazing! I love the burnt sugar and maple combo going on here. What a great cold weather dessert!

  18. You must have such steady hands! Your cakes are so gorgeous. I have to keep this one in mind to someday maybe make for my mom, who would love its flavor profile.

  19. Toffee, caramel taste??? I'm all over that! Your cake is gorgeous!!

  20. Wowza - maple cream cheese frosting?! This is a truly stunning layer cake!


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