Harvest Moon Cake
November 17, 2011
Made this Harvest Moon Cake last weekend and I was thrilled with the result. Can a cake be delightful? This cake was delightful. The perfect autumn cake, I’ve decided. My cake-loving mother also deemed it delightful and wants me to make it again for our Thanksgiving gathering. And the piece de resistance? My non-cake-loving husband ate more than one piece! (Probably because there were no chocolate chip cookies around.)
The recipe comes from Diana Henry’s lovely ode-to-cold-weather cookbook, ‘Roast Figs Sugar Snow: Winter Food to Warm the Soul’. I picked this book up last year and it is so darn cool! There’s stuff in here I’ve never come across anywhere else. It’s fun reading in addition to having very unique and unusual recipes. Definitely one you might want to put on your Christmas wish list or give as a gift.
‘Peasant Girls in a Mist’ ( a type of baked apple parfait affair), ‘The Dartmoor Inn’s Apple Bread’, ‘West Country Pot Roast Chicken with apples and cider’, ‘Swedish Thursday Soup’, ‘Georgian Cheese Pies’ and ‘Pecan and Pear Upside-Down Cake’ are just a few of the tasties that hail from Russia, Poland and various other Scandinavian cold-weather countries, as well as some recipe nods from our American and British friends.
You could make this cake without the frosting and just serve it as a sort of tea cake or snacking cake. (My husband Andrew thinks I made that term up, like our endless debate on the “house sweater”.) Snacking cake is real my friends! But I thought the frosting was Very Extremely Delightful and you should definitely put the frosting on, in my opinion. It seemed a tad runny when I made it, but it set up very nicely and had the perfect amount of sweetness to offset the not-overly-sweet cake.
HARVEST MOON CAKE with maple syrup and pecans
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, plus extra for greasing the pan (I used unsalted)
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 maple syrup
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (I aerate my flour with a fork and call it good)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp each baking powder, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce (either bought or homemade)
3 1/2 oz pecans, chopped
For the Frosting
1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted (again, I aerate rather than sift)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp heavy cream
4 tbsp dark maple syrup
To Decorate (I skipped this step. Too crafty for moi.)
2 oz shelled pecans
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Butter the inside of an 8-inch springform pan (I only have a 9 inch springform, so I used that. Seemed to work fine, cake was still quite fluffy.) and line the bottom with greaseproof paper. (I skipped this and just buttered/floured the inside.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. (2-3 minutes.) Add the maple syrup and egg and beat until blended.
Combine the dry ingredients (except the nuts) in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients one third at a time, alternating with the apple sauce. Stir in the pecans.
Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a fine skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (Start checking at 30 minutes. Mine was done at 34 minutes.) Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
To make the frosting, beat together the confectioners sugar and butter with an electric beater until light and fluffy. While beating on low speed, add the cream and maple syrup. Using a spatula, spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cooled cake. (I just did the top.)
To decorate, grind the pecans with the dark brown sugar and the cinnamon in a food processor using the pulse button. You want the mixture to be partially ground, partially chunky. Make a template of a maple leaf – or any kind of leaf shape that you can find easily - by drawing one on a sheet of greaseproof paper and then cutting it out, so that you are left with the intact outline of the leaf in the middle of the paper. Set this on top of the cake and gently scatter the ground pecan mixture over it. Carefully remove the paper. You will be left with a sweet, nutty leaf shape.
Delightful, I tell you!