Maple Syrup and Cake

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That’s right, maple syrup and cake have been new and noteworthy in my kitchen in the last couple of weeks. Not together, although a maple syrup frosting would be delicious on an apple or an apple-spice cake. Hmm. Also, it is wonderful on top of oatmeal (and pancakes of course) and I bet it’d be good drizzled over vanilla ice cream. And my daughter wants me to make maple syrup cookies. My brain is very busy coming up with ways to use the first batch of the amazingly tasty homemade maple syrup that my husband and family made last week. Though the weather turned frosty again this week, we did have about a week of above freezing temperatures and for the first time, we tapped our maple trees.

We have lived in our ordinary suburban neighborhood for over a decade and never tried making maple syrup. My husband, Lou, decided this was the year. On our modest plot of land, we have a lot of sugar and norway maple trees. I love these trees. They provide shade all summer (don’t even need to slather sunblock on my kids), vibrant colors and giant leaf piles in the fall, and now, as winter turns to spring, they provide the makings of maple syrup.

Here is a quick photo journal of our first run of sap.

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Drilling a hole into the maple.

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Getting the first taste of sap. Yes it is slightly sweet.

 

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Hammering a tap into the hole.

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Running lines into a collection bucket.

 

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Ready and waiting for the sap to flow.

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First boil using our fire pit and a turkey fryer. It took all day and into the night.

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As we get closer to syrup the boiling moves inside.

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The next morning, pancakes were flipped and syrup was doled out. YUM!

I understand the weather will again warm up some time in March and we hope to get more sap and more syrup. I want to treat it more like an ingredient and less like gold. More to come on maple syrup recipes….

Last week I also made a first birthday cake for a family celebrating in a big way. I love to make cakes for people. I want everyone to know that a cake really can be delicious and beautiful at the same time. Sadly, that has not been my experience when partaking in many store bought and even bakery bought cakes.

This cake, as requested, had many elements to it that came together wonderfully: vanilla and chocolate butter cakes with pastry cream and berries as filling. Homemade Italian meringue buttercream to cover the cake and fondant decorations to make it look like a party cake.

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Thanks for joining me on a picture walk of the last couple of weeks in my kitchen. I have lots of recipes to blog about so stay-tuned for more.

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Roasted Acorn Squash

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I wouldn’t say my kids are bad vegetable eaters; they are ordinary vegetable eaters. So when I can get them to try (and hopefully finish) a vegetable out of their normal repertoire, I am thrilled. And that is what happened with the acorn squash I made the other night. My trick: I added a sweet topping… and let my kids add a little more at the table. The natural sweetness of the squash is enhanced by a little honey or maple syrup. I personally prefer honey.

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I find simple works best when preparing vegetables for my family and this recipe is nothing if not simple. Perhaps you’ve made your own version before. If so, I’d love to hear how you prepared yours.

Roasted Acorn Squash

Makes 8 servings

2 acorn squash
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
kosher salt and pepper
honey or maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350F.

1. Cut a small amount off bottom and stem end of squash so it can sit flat in roasting pan. Slice squash in half and remove seeds.

2. Spread each half with about 1/2 Tbsp. of butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Prick flesh with a fork. Put in roasting pan and roast for 30-40 minutes or until flesh is soft and brown on top.

3. Drizzle with either honey or maple syrup and serve.