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Maple-Pecan Cinnamon Cake with Maple Buttercream

Author: Adapted from Bake from Scratch, Volume Three by Brian Hart Hoffman



  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • Flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel, for sprinkling
  • Whole pecans, for decoration, if desired


  • 6 large egg whites
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbs granulated sugar
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 ¾ cup plus 2 tbs unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract



  • Preheat oven to 325℉. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line with parchment.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then turn the mixer back on. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the maple syrup and sour cream.
  • With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternating with the maple syrup mixture. I like to add one-third the flour mixture followed by half the maple syrup mixture, then repeat again in that order until done. Now add pecans and mix until just combined. Use a spatula to give the batter one more fold to make sure the pecans are evenly incorporated.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake until a cake tester or wooden skewer comes out clean when poked into the center of the cake, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cakes cool completely in the pans.
  • Once cool, tip the first cake out of the pan and peel off the parchment. Set the bottom cake on a cake stand and dollop some buttercream on top. Use an offset spatula to spread the frosting into an even layer. If some is poking out that’s fine. Now tip the second cake out of its pan and peel off the parchment. Place it on top of the bottom layer, lining it up evenly.
  • Place large dollops of frosting and spread it from the center to the edges and tipping over the sides of the cake. Gently frost the sides top down, making sure the spatula doesn’t touch the cake itself (that gets your crumbies in your frosting). Add more frosting to the sides as necessary. I used ALL the frosting here. Use your spatula to smooth out the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle sea salt on the top, then decorate with pecans - or not - as you prefer.


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until medium peaks form.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat maple syrup over medium heat until a candy thermometer registers 240℉. This takes longer than you think it should.
  • With the stand mixer running on medium, gradually pour the hot maple syrup into egg white mixture, trying to aim for in between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Continue beating for a long while until the sides of the bowl are cool to the touch. Again, this takes longer than you think it should.
  • Now add butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, to the egg white mixture, beating until combined. If your buttercream looks runny at this point, keep beating until fluffy. Beat in salt and vanilla. Use immediately.


Recipe is adapted from Bake from Scratch, Volume Three by Brian Hart Hoffman. This is originally written as a sheet cake, but I decided the buttercream recipe, in its proportions, suited a layer cake better. I was right, at least in my not-so-humble opinion. You can read the body of the post for more of my thought process if you want. The original cake called for apples, which I dislike as an added flavor. If I’m having apples in my cake, then it must be an apple cake. I discarded them in favor of more cinnamon and pecans.
The buttercream. This is a meringue buttercream, which is the richest and best thing ever - that insane amount of butter is not a typo - but it’s tricky to make. The bad news is, it's easy to screw up. The good news is, screw-ups are easy to fix. READ THIS BEFORE MAKING THE FROSTING. It’ll teach you how to rescue it from your screw-ups. Yes, I know from experience, no, I don’t wanna talk about it...