ontario maple pecan cake with salted buttercream

ontario maple pecan cake

maple syrup is an absolutely wondrous thing. sweet liquid tapped from a tree is boiled down to make a syrup that is unique in flavour like nothing else i can imagine. it’s one of the many lovely things about living in canada, and in ontario in particular. the season is short, and for that reason the product of maple sugaring is rare and expensive. yet it’s an affordable little luxury, one worth indulging in to enjoy its smoky-sweetness, dripping down a stack of pancakes or fluffy buttermilk waffles on a lazy sunday, or used to make a special dessert.

when we had a special birthday to celebrate, i decided that springtime and maple syrup season should also be celebrated, and so i made this ontario maple pecan cake. the cake itself, studded with pecans, is easy to bake, and at the end, it gets layered with fluffy mounds of the most silky of embellishments, a buff-coloured french meringue buttercream made with pure maple syrup. heaven!

i hope you make this cake at least once. you’ll love the results, and won’t believe how easy the buttercream slides over the cake, or holds a piped peak.

ontario maple pecan cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups ontario syrup
3 eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup half and half cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, divided.

1 recipe of ontario maple french meringue buttercream
flaked sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350º. butter and line 2 9-inch cake pans with parchment.Tap out any excess flour, and set pans aside. Fit your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and beat the butter until it has a creamy, mayonnaise-like consistency. (Placing warm hands on the bowl while it beats is helpful) Pour in the maple syrup, and add the eggs, one at a time. the mixture will look broken, not smooth. in a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. add the flour mixture all at once, and pulse to combine. pour in the cream and vanilla, and mix a few more times until smooth. Stir in 3/4 cup chopped pecans. divide batter between the two pans, and bake for 20 minutes, then rotate pans and bake 20 minutes more, or until cake tester comes out clean. cool on racks. when completely cool, slice each layer in half horizontally. spread each layer with 1/2 cup of maple buttercream. mask cake with buttercream, and decorate as you wish. we used a naked base and a star tip for the top. sprinkle with remaining nuts and a pinch pf the flaked sea salt.

salted ontario maple french meringue buttercream

i start with unsalted butter because it tastes fresher, then salt to my liking with sea salt.

6 yolks from large eggs
2 cups ontario maple syrup
1 pound of unsalted butter, chilled and cut into bits
1/2 tsp. sea salt, or to taste

fit an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, and beat egg yolks on high speed until very light and pale yellow, about 5 minutes. place the maple syrup in a large pot and bring to a boil. use a candy thermometer and bring the syrup to 240º, or the soft ball stage. this can take 10-15 minutes.
with the electric mixer running, pour the syrup in a slow, steady stream down the side of the mixing bowl into the egg-yolk mixture, about 1 1/2 minutes. continue beating until the bowl is just slightly warm to the touch, 5 to 6 minutes. switch to the paddle attachment, and toss in the pieces of butter until it is all incorporated. beat a couple of minutes more, until the frosting is very light and fluffy. add the sea salt to taste. use right away.

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good stuff #3

bra grejer

i love canada, i really do. our kick-ass landscape, free health care and enviable collection of wildlife species are pretty great. last week i ate a butter tart. i also ate one the week before that. what a country!

this week, as we slowly transition into spring, i’m sharing the warm minimalism of scandivavian and nordic style, looking to the distinct cold-climate aesthetic of sweden, denmark, finland, and norway for inspiration. theirs is a perfect blending of the historical and the deeply modern, an appreciation of craftmanship, natural materials, and simple, functional, but beautiful design.

and what about hygge? in denmark, this sort of vague word, loosely translated, describes the feeling of well-being we get from a warm, candlelit room filled with books and good food, and people to share it with, while the snow falls heavily outside. that feeling can happen in warmer weather, too, when a picnic blanket on soft grass is laid with beautiful food on a well-designed dish, and you know you have the afternoon off. it’s kind of blissful, no? a perfect concept for a cold-climate country like canada, too.

let’s not forget, sweden is the birthplace of that most beautiful of hygge-inducing stoves, my still-coveted AGA.

while i’ll never be a true minimalist, i love how nordic and scandinavian style seems to mix it up just right. i hope you find some inspiration too.

happy sunday xx

p.s…that phrase above? swedish, for “good stuff”.

  1. this cookbook, the new nordic, by:

  2. photographer and chef simon bajada is on my list of new books to buy. beetroot carpaccio with goat’s cheese and minted pea relish will be one of the first recipes i try. (photos: simon bajada)

  3. this roros tweed blanket, made from the wool of norwegian sheep. i’m inspired by those blocks of colour to knit a colourblock throw in homage to this lovely design. available at MJOLK, in the junction, toronto. (photo: MJOLK.com)

  4. this glass and brass vase, made in sweden by eva schildt. perfect to hold simple branches or dried seed heads in celebration of the stark beauty of winter. at MJOLK, above. (photo: MJOLK.com)

  5. these marttiini knives from finland. i would love to unsheath this and use it daily. available at the finnish place. (photo: the fnnish place)

  6. lotta from stockholm clogs chefs wear closed-toe clogs in the kitchen because they are durable and comfortable. now you can get the ultimate in man-repelling footwear to go with just about everything. i discovered lotta from stockholm on instagram and love everything they post. these black t-bars are begging to be worn with a cute dress and tights, or flared denim. (photo: lotta from stockholm)

  7. this funky mug by iconic designer maija isola in the unikko pattern, in production since 1964. love that yellow. (photo: the finnish place)

  8. this gorgeous bowl. if i can’t afford an AGA, i cant afford this bowl but wow, is it beautiful to look at! from a selection available in the online shop of the kitchen designer, susan serra. (photo:scandinavianmade.com)

  9. era 66 furniture located right here in guelph, makers of drool-worthy new furniture inspired by danish modern and mid-century design. (photo: instagram, @era66furniture)

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good stuff no. 2

good morning lovely people, and a very happy sunday to you.

this week’s good stuff roundup is inspired by simplicity. i’m loving the slightly minimalist theme going on.

check my instagram feed for today’s post, and to follow our listmakers and see even more of what they do.

with love,

as if i don’t love crocheting enough, it would be even better if i had one of these hand-carved crochet hooks with sweet crown tops from bqueen collection. available in singles or in sets, each one is ergonomic and made from domestic and exotic woods. that tulipwood one though! (photo: BQueen Collection)

i came across the good drink on instagram, and am now officially in awe of Colleen Jeffers recipes and photography. i need a Salted Melon Lassi with blonde rum, like, immediately. (photo: Colleen Jeffers)

what i’m loving about blooms and flora florist in guelph is their selection of slightly 70’s style potted plants. you can have a peace lily in a funky white textured ceramic pot delivered to your door for $35, or go all out and snag this stunning split-leaf philodendron. they also carry the cutest little succulent pots that make me crave some macrame hangers. now to not kill them…. (photo: Blooms and Flora)

Sue Bradbury is the woman behind EllainaBoutique, her etsy shop and home to simply designed tops, dresses, and scarves all designed and sewn by Sue. my favourite is this simple white top, but her colourful dresses with pin-tuck bodices are gorg. (photo: Sue Bradbury)

so, coffee. it’s pretty much my favourite thing in the world, so how happy am i to see filtr company joining a pretty enviable array of coffee places in town. although they are much more than a coffee shop. they deliver simple, fresh food, cold-pressed raw juices from galt juice company, and their espresso and slow-bar features small-batch beans from Monigram Roasters in Cambridge. even if you don’t live here, visit the website and peruse the deliciousness. (photo: Filtr Co.)

oh, and by the way, was it a fabulous dream, or did AGA Living really post a photo of this luscious pink number for valentine’s day? yes, yes they did. sigh. (photo: AGAliving.com)

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aberfoyle market

Aberfoyle Antique Market
linen covered directors chair and french flour sack pillow

i was told off just a little this weekend for bringing home another chair. i have a thing for bowls, and chairs.

i’m not sure if the ability to see diamonds in the rough is a blessing or a curse. here’s how I see the top 5 reasons to bring home some old stuff:

  1. (sometimes) you save a bit of money if you buy used things over new (generally speaking. I’m not talking original 17th century handmade french chairs) especially if they need some love.
  2.  you’re giving stuff with good bones a new life and keeping perfectly good things out of the landfill.
  3. no one else will have what you have. your style emerges when you find and buy what speaks to you.
  4. you can make it your own with paint, fabric, or whatever other upcycling talents you have
  5. it’s just fun, don’t you think??
an old trunk, safari helmet, and washed white tablecloths

aberfoyle, ontario boasts a mighty good antique/jumble sale, held every sunday with some special shows in the spring and fall. i wait all year to wander the hundred or so stalls and find some great things. this weekend i discovered a stall called “White”. french chairs were covered in aged linen, furniture painted white, old trunks and mirrors. pure heaven.

so i brought home a duck-egg blue folding chair  ($20) and (another) white-ware bowl ($14)

those divine french chairs covered in old centre-seamed linen. le sigh.
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