According to something I read somewhere, people are at their most attractive when they’re talking about something that they love. Makes sense. Unfortunately for me, this thing that I love is not writing computer code, or fixing teeth, or playing the middleman between two used-to-be-happy people. Or prescribing pills, or pulling people over, or making money grow. Or anything else even remotely lucrative.
This thing that I love is cake.
And not just any cake, but a very expensive-to-make cake. Now that I think about it (why am I thinking about it), this is the cake that I once begged my mom to make. I was about to bring my first real boyfriend home with me. I’d had other boyfriends of course, but suddenly they didn’t count. I felt sure, absolutely sure, that so long as we started with Maple Walnut Cake, everything would go beautifully. That with enough maple syrup in the equation, we’d be able to gloss over anything that needed glossing.
This is a cake that I’ve shared when I’ve been incredibly, impossibly, cannot-believe-my-good-luck happy. And because for some reason I like to tell you these things: this is also a cake that I’ve eaten pretty much all by myself. Slice by slice, when I’ve been too sad to eat anything else. Also: too lazy to cover it up or put it away. Dark days, I tell you!
It is now the falling in love/falling out of love family cake. Because there are six of us, we end up having Maple Walnut Cake — for one reason or the other — several times a year. Every year. I’ve had it more times than I can count, and it’s as good when I can’t stop smiling as it is when I can’t stop crying. Happy for you hugs and hang in there hugs. They’re both in there.
It’s a pretty special cake, if you ask me. It tasted the very best the time I had it with him, with his free hand holding mine under the kitchen table. While he charmed the heck out of my mom and held his own with my dad. We watched a movie until they fell asleep, and then we talked about sneaking back out into the kitchen for another piece. He would have left me almost all of the frosting, because he was the sweetest. I’m willing to bet he still is.
The cake didn’t fail me, exactly. I think I failed me. There really isn’t enough cake left, or I’d tell you all about it.
The maple sugar frosting will make you wonder what you ever saw in buttercream or ganache or any of those, as wonderful as they are. If you are a maple person, you will not be disappointed. Even if you don’t currently have someone around to save you some extra. (Sometimes we need to do these things for ourselves.) I find it so good that often I wonder if I could just do without the cake part. But then I get a forkful of both, and I think, nope, cannot live without it.
See recipe (originally published in Great Cakes by Country Living). The combined amount of maple syrup is not a typo — don’t skip a single drop!