March is maple season, a certain sign that Spring is not that far away. To celebrate the sweetness of this time of year, I created my Maple Walnut Buttercrunch cake. A light walnut genoise layered with maple buttercream enahnced by Sortilege – a maple whiskey and finally coated with a mix of chopped Skor and walnuts pieces. Delightful for Sunday desert in front of the fireplace.
If you have never made a genoise, it involves some technique to do it correctly. If you’ve never made one, I have included a video from Gourmet.
My recipe below is slightly different, but the outcome is the same. It’s really the technique that’s important to getting this light spongecake.
For the genoise you will need:
Baking Equipment and preparation: One straight sided 9-inch by 3-inch deep round cake pan. Line with parchment paper, grease and flour sides of pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the back racking in the lower third of the oven.
1 1/4 cups (125 grams) sifted cake flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 ounces (1/4 cup) walnuts
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 package vanilla sugar (or 1 teaspoon vanilla flavouring)
1. Grind the flour and walnuts in a food processor until the it has the consistency of a cornmeal. Set aside.
2. Crack the eggs and the yolk in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Using whisk attachment beat eggs, start to beat eggs slowly.
3. If you are using vanilla sugar, add it to the 3/4 granulated sugar. Add the sugar slowly, until the volume has tripled and is pale in colour and looks like a thick meringue. If you are using vanilla extract, add it at this point.
4. Using a balloon whisk, fold in one-third of the nut/flour meal at a time.
5. Take about 2 cups of the batter and put into another bowl. Slowly and carefully, pour the oil in a steady stream into this batter until blended, being careful not to mix too vigorously.
6. Fold the batter with the oil back into the original batter.
7. Gently pour the mixture into the baking pan, being careful not to deflate the foam.
8. Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes, until top of cake is lightly gold and springs back when touched.
Your genoise should look like this:
Remove from oven and let cool on a cake rack. Once cooled, use a serrated edge knife and remove the sugar crust, this will make it even. Slice the cake into three layers, approximately 1-inch thick.
Prepare the sugar syrup:
Makes about 1 1/4 cups
5 ounces water
1 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of Maple Syrup
1 tablespoon Sortilege Maple Whiskey (optional)
1. Pour the water into 1 1/2 – quart saucepan. Add the sugar, stir to blend then bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove and let cool.
For the icing:
I would usually make an Italian Meringue Buttercream, however, being a little short on time I went with this quick buttercream from Williams-Sonoma which is also good.
Ingredients: (Makes about 4 cups)
- 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 4 1/2 Tbs. milk, plus more, if needed
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional) OR 1 teaspoon maple flavouring or Sortilege Maple Whiskey
- 1/2 package Skor Toffee bits
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
Place the Skor Toffee bits and the chopped walnuts into bowl of food processor. Pulse 2-3 times until the texture resembles a very coarse crumb. Set aside.
Assembling the cake: I do a first icing, also called dirty icing, to seal in any crumbs. Put in fridge then frost with remaining icing.
1. Brush syrup on each layer and then spread about 1 1/2 cups of frosting between each layer.
2. Frost top and side lightly, saving some icing for the second frosting.
3. Put cake in fridge for about 30 minutes for icing to set and firm up.
Once the first frosting is set, hold cake on your palm and coat sides with buttercrunch. Place cake on cake board, or plate and frost with remaining icing.
Finish cake by placing whole walnuts on top of each rosette. Let sit for about 1 hour at room temperature before serving to make sure buttercream is soft and flavours are mellowed.
Enjoy and happy eating!