Walnut-Maple Layer Cake
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Walnuts add flavor, texture and heart-healthy goodness to all kinds of recipes.
- 2 cups walnuts
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk, room temperature
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Cooking spray
- ¾ cup butter, softened
- 4 eggs
- 1 ½ cups butter, softened
- One 8-ounce brick cream cheese, softened
- 4 cups confectioner's sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- Zest from 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup walnuts, candied, store-bought or homemade, chopped
- Candied ginger, sugared rosemary and sugared cranberries, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F.
For the cake, place the walnuts and sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until the nuts have broken down into small pea-sized pieces. Set aside.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the milk, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Set aside.
Spray a 13x9-inch sheet pan with cooking spray. Place a sheet of parchment on the bottom of the pan to cover. Spray the top again with cooking spray.
Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Place the butter into the bowl and mix on medium speed until smooth. Add in the sugar-walnut mixture and combine to mix. Once fluffy and pale, add in the eggs one at a time. Once the eggs have been incorporated, add ¼ of the dry ingredients followed by ¼ of the liquid mixture. Repeat until all the ingredients have mixed together into a smooth batter. Scrape down the sides of the mixer and mix for 30 more seconds, just to ensure all the batter is well-mixed.
Carefully pour the mixture onto the prepared sheet tray. Place into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool.
For the frosting:
Place the butter and cream cheese into a stand mixer and beat with a paddle attachment until smooth. Working ½ cup at a time, slowly add in the confectioner's sugar until fully incorporated. Add in the maple syrup and beat until combined. Add in the orange zest, ground ginger and salt. Set aside.
To build the cake:
Once cool, trim the outer ¼ inch off all four sides of the cake. Cut the cake down the middle to make two large rectangular sheets. Place one sheet onto a serving tray and slather half of the frosting on top. Sprinkle half of the chopped candied walnuts over the frosting then lay the second half of the cake on top and rustically slather it with the rest of the frosting. Decorate the cake with the rest of the chopped candied walnuts and chopped ginger. For a more festive holiday look, top with sugar-coated rosemary and sugared cranberries!