Friday, November 6, 2015

Pecan Maple Loaf Cake

With the winter winds rolling in and turning back our clocks to shift from Daylight Savings Time, somehow maple syrup and toasted pecans come to mind.  Maybe the fact that maple syrup was first collected and used by Native Americans, it seems like a good time for it to make an appearance for some pastry making.   

This also feels like the season for loaf cakes.  Whether you're making a treat to enjoy with your favorite afternoon beverage or thinking of someone who may appreciate a gift, loaf cakes are a welcome pleasure, a simple and unadorned pastry that comes together in a jiffy without much muss or fuss.

This cake is made using the standard creaming method.  There’s a little spice, a good sampling of maple syrup and lots of toasted pecans.  Orange zest and a touch of brandy add more flavor and a festive touch appropriate to the season.  After the cake is baked, it’s brushed with a mixture of butter and more maple syrup for a nice finish.

For a sweet nod to autumn, share a slice of this cake.  You can always count on a little pastry to liven up your table. 

Bench notes:
- Toast pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.
- "Room temperature" butter means the chill has been take off and it's pliable but not soft to the touch.  It should not look oily or greasy.
- For cake mixing, always add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding the next.  The batter is ready for the second egg when it no longer has a shiny slick on the surface.  
- It's super important to scrape down the bowl often when mixing cake batters to ensure that the fat clinging to the bottom and sides gets fully incorporated into the batter, avoiding streaks of butter that will leave tunnels in your baked cake.
- If you're not enamored of pecans, toasted walnuts are a good alternative.

Pecan Maple Loaf Cake
Makes 1 loaf
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk @ room temperature
2 tablespoons (1 oz) brandy
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla                             
zest of 1 orange                  
4 oz (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter @ room temperature                          
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons 
(2 3/4 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs 
@ room temperature                                                       
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (3 3/4 oz) maple syrup
3/4 cup (2 1/2 oz) toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

1/4 oz (1/2 tablespoon) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan and line with a piece of parchment paper large enough to form an overhang along both sides of the length of the pan.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Set aside

Combine milk, brandy, vanilla and orange zest.  Set aside.

Cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 - 4 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add eggs one at a time, making sure that each one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping down the bowl as necessary.

Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with 1/2 the milk mixture and 1/2 the maple syrup and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix just until well blended.  Fold in the toasted pecans.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the surface.  Bake the cake until a tester comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake, about 50 minutes.   Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Remove from the pan and cool completely.

For the glaze, melt the 1/2 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon maple syrup.  Brush the top of the loaf with the glaze. 


Audrey said...

This looks especially lovely! - thank you for the recipe!

pastry studio said...

Thank you very much, Audrey!