Let's Cook with Meg and Ted

Maple and pecan layer cake

This is Nigella Lawson's autumnal birthday cake, adapted from a recipe in the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. Note that the maple syrup is measured in millilitres, not milligrams as are usually shown on the bottle, so take this into account and make sure you buy enough syrup.

175 gbutter, softened
100 ggolden castor sugar
3large eggs
350 mlmaple syrup
500 gself-raising flour
175 mlhot water

2large egg whites
125 mlmaple syrup
125 ggolden castor sugar
1/4 teaspooncream of tartar
1/4 teaspoonsalt
1 teaspoonvanila extract
1/4 teaspoonmaple extract (optional)
100 gpecans, fairly finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and line two 21 cm round cake tins

Beat together the butter and sugar until very pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in well after each addition, then gradually add the maple syrup to make a smooth mixture. Finally, spoon in the flour alternately with the hot water, beating gently until smooth again. Divide the batter between the two tins, and cook for 40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in their tins for 10 minutes, then unmould them and let them cool completely on wire racks before starting to prepare the icing.

Put the egg whites, maple syrup, castor sugar, cream of tartar and salt into a glass or metal bowl that fits over a saucepan to form a double boiler. Fill the saucepan with enough water to come just below, but not touching, the bowl when it sits on top. Bring the water to the boil, set the bowl on top, and, using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the mixture vigorously for 5-7 minutes, until it stands up in stiff peaks. Remove the bowl from the heat, add the extracts, and beat for another minute.

Take four wide strips of greasproof paper, and arrange them in a square on the plate on which you are serving the cake. Set one of the cakes on top, and spread with some of the icing. Top with the second cake, and ice the top and sides. Go for a swirly effect, rather than smooth icing, but work fairly quickly as the icing starts to set within a minute or so of going on. Sprinkle pecans over the top of the cake, and throw them at the sides too if you like. When the icing is completely set, remove the strips of paper to reveal a drip-free plate.

This cake is best eaten on the day it is cooked. Serves 10.

16 October 2003

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