Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Maple Spice Cake Squares & Mocha Glaze Icing

Pumpkins? Apples? Nuts? Perhaps. However, to my nose and tastebuds, there is nothing that magically transforms a kitchen into an autumnal one more than the addition of fragrant, sweet spices and maple syrup to cake batter.

using a 9x9 inch pan, makes nine 3 inch squares, recipe can be doubled, using a 9x12 inch pan

Flour, plain, white, 8 fluid ounces
Baking soda, 1/2 tsp
Baking powder, 1/2 tsp
Salt, 1/8 tsp
Cinnamon, ground, 1.5 tsp
Cloves, ground, 1/4 tsp
Nutmeg, freshly grated, 1/4 tsp
Butter, sweet, softened to room temperature, 4 T
Sugar, white, 5 T
Maple syrup, 4 fluid ounces
Yogurt, plain, 4 fluid ounces
Egg, large, beaten, 1

Sugar, icing/confectioner's, powdered, 4 fluid ounces
Cocoa, unsweetened, powdered, 1 T
Coffee, brewed, cooled, 2-3T

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For the cake, in the smaller of two mixing bowls, put all the dry ingredients except the sugar.

The spilled spices resemble fall leaves

Blend until the mixture has an even beige tone.

In the larger bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Using a fork, it takes about five minutes to get the fluffy consistency of mashed potatoes.

Add the maple syrup.

Blend well. The mixture will look a little curdled, but it will be fine.

Mix in the yogurt and then the eggs. Stir in the dry ingredients in several batches.

The batter will have a thick, smooth consistency.

Liberally butter the bottom and sides of the baking dish. Give the filled pan a good shake or two to even out the batter.

Bake around thirty minutes until top is nicely carmelised and sides are pulling away a bit from the pan. After a few minutes, carefully remove:  I used a thin spatula to loosen the sides and bottom, placing a plate onto the top of the pan and flipping it over while firmly holding the plate and pan together. Then I slid the cake from the plate onto a rack (I use one from the oven).

The carmelised crust will stay crisp and not become soggy as it would if cooled in the pan

When the cake is completely cool, cut into nine squares and place on a flat surface, like a glass chopping board or large plate. Make the icing.

Put the icing sugar and the cocoa powder into a bowl. Starting with one tablespoon of the brewed coffee, whisk all the ingredients, adding more coffee to get the preferred consistency. Using a small pitcher, I poured various patterns (lattice, circular, zigzag) onto the squares. Letting the icing stand for about fifteen minutes will allow more control of the stream.

Using a spatula, pile the squares on a serving plate. The crumb has the right amount of fluff, the spiciness is on target, and the glaze gives a smooth, additional shot to the headiness of maple. When refrigerated, the texture is more of a blond brownie.

If applying the icing before cutting the cake, you won't get this drenched effect

The onions are now in storage, there's a few tomatoes still on the vines, and the fig harvest is just around the corner. It's time to sun dry red peppers!

Drying basket hanging on a rose bush

The asters, in full flower at present, resemble soft, blue clouds shape-shifting in the cool wind.

The pink flowers are double Japanese anemones and the white are oleanders

As we live with Dirac the kitten, the more we get to know him. Funny how that works. The Calm One who handles the feline food detail--he measures out four prescribed portions each morning and then responsibly despite beguiling craftiness from a certain furry party of diminutive stature doles them out during the day--suddenly announced, our kitten's name should be Percy, Percy for Persistant! As various nicknames accumulate, mongoose mouth is for example one of many, why not another?

Dirac the five-month-old kitten

Obviously Percy!

À la prochaine!


Lena Levin's (artist who painted the still life of strawberries on our mantle) website
The terroir of maple