Showing posts with label maple cream cheese frosting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label maple cream cheese frosting. Show all posts

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Wedding Cake

by Sheila Connolly

Meg Corey and Seth Chapin are getting married in A Gala Event, the next book in the Orchard Mysteries, coming out next week. Some readers might add “finally!” Hey, it’s only taken them nine books to get there. I’m afraid to count how many bodies they came across along the way.

Those of you with eagle eyes and long memories may recognize this recipe, which I posted here two years ago (and it’s the one that appears in the book—but you saw it here first!). It’s so appropriate for these two people—one who raises apples, and one who cherishes historic buildings. It’s an old recipe made with apple cider—how could I improve on that?

But I thought I’d try making cider from my own apples for the occasion. Nice idea, right? I have one tree that has succumbed to fire blight after a year-long struggle, but it made a valiant effort to produce apples this year, and I have picked most of them. Perfect, I say—I will use these apples!

Well, yes and no. This variety—Esopus Spitzenburg, one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorites—produces fairly dry apples under the best of circumstances, although with nice flavor, and this has been a dry year. I took half a bushel of apples (all that one variety!) and stuck them into my tiny but authentic antique hand-crank cider press, and…out of that half bushel I produced less than one cup of cider. Not even enough for this recipe. But it’s the thought that counts, right? It did taste good. I added some organic local cider to make up the full amount.

My cider--I have much more respect for
cider makers now!
And since you’re getting a reprise of this recipe, I’ll throw in a recipe for maple cream cheese frosting to go with it (I’m addicted to the stuff). It’s a wedding cake, isn’t it? There must be frosting!

Apple Cider Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2 pounds flour (about 6 cups)
1 pound sugar (about 2 cups)
1 Tblsp baking powder
1-2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of cloves (or more if you like)
1/2 pound of butter, softened
2 cups cider 
(fresh and local if you have it)

In a large bowl (the one for a stand mixer works), place the dry ingredients and blend them together. Add the soft butter and mix on medium speed until it’s evenly distributed (mixture will be crumbly).

Add the cider  and mix until you have a stiff batter.

Butter and flour a 9” x 13” baking pan (since this is a wedding cake, I made two round cakes instead). Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth out the top. Place in the preheated oven and bake until the top is lightly browned and the edges begin to pull away from the pan—probably around an hour (but start testing early—if you overcook the cake it gets dry). Cool in the pan.

When fully cool, remove from the pan(s) and frost with…

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room 
2 8-oz. pkgs cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup maple syrup (use the good stuff! I may have gone overboard when I used an artisanal, varietal maple syrup I bought in Vermont, but it tastes really good!)
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar (more if needed)

Cream together the butter and the cream cheese. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and mix. Add the confectioner’s sugar and blend until smooth. If the mixture is still too soupy to spread, add more sugar, bit by bit, until you reach the consistency you want.


Only one main ingredient: marzipan or fondant (which is harder to find). Roll it out thin and cut it into shapes of your choice (of course I have apple cookie cutters!), or mold them any way you like. To color your decorations, you may either paint them with a brush, using food coloring, or make up a solution of food coloring and dip them in whole. Let them dry before applying to the cake.

And next week you can join Meg and Seth as they get married in front of most of the population of Granford!

A Gala Event, coming October 6th! Yes, that's next week!

In case you haven't seen this before, here's what it's about:

Wedding bells are ringing for Meg and Seth in the latest Orchard Mystery

The fall harvest may be just about over, but orchard owner Meg Corey is busier than ever planning her wedding to Seth Chapin. Who knew picking apples would be less work than picking out rings and a dress? And even though the happy couple has invited most of Granford, Massachusetts, to the ceremony, they might have to make room for one more guest…

Ex-con Aaron Eastman has unexpectedly reappeared in his hometown, searching for answers to the tragic fire in his family’s past that put him behind bars twenty-five years ago. Moved by his sincerity, Meg vows to do everything she can to help him solve the cold case. As she cobbles together the clues, it becomes increasingly clear that Aaron may have been considered the bad seed of the family, but someone else was one bad apple…

Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and in a whole lot of bookstores (I hope!)

Friday, March 2, 2012


by Sheila Connolly

Parsnip cake recipes are most often found amongst English recipes, while we in the U.S. have our carrot cakes.  Yet they two vegetables are similar, and I think the parsnip has a more interesting and intense flavor.  It pairs well with ginger.


1½ cups flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
2 Tblsp finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 large eggs
½ cup canola oil
½ cup buttermilk
Parsnips – enough to make 1 cup of shredded/chopped parsnip

I'll confess:  the first time I tried this recipe I thought I'd get away with using the shredding disk on my food processor for the parsnips.  Bad idea—the parsnips never really cooked through, and the interior of the cake was a gooey mess.  The next time around I used the regular blade of the food processor and reduced the parsnip to fine crumbs, which worked much better.

Ditto the crystallized ginger.  Chopping it finely with a knife, no matter how sharp, is all but impossible because the ginger is sticky and clings to the knife.  I put that in the food processor and gave it several pulses, and the result was nice and uniform.

Spray a 6-cup baking tin with vegetable oil spray until well coated. (I happened to have an ornamental antique one of the right size.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice).  Mix in the chopped ginger.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs.  Add the oil and buttermilk and whise together.  Add the egg/oil mixture to the dry ingredients and mix.  Stir in the chopped parsnips.  Pour into your pan and bake for 60-70 minutes (test with a toothpick until it comes out clean).  Let cool thoroughly while you make the frosting.


I swear, I'm just going to make this stuff and eat it straight from the bowl—why bother with cake?

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
8 Tblsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup (or more) confectioner's sugar
3 Tblsp maple syrup (dark is good—more flavorful), at room temperature

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and fully incorporated.  Add the vanilla and the maple syrup and blend.  Slowly add the sugar, mixing well.  You can add more sugar if you think the frosting is too thin.

When the cake is cool, frost.  This amount is perfect for a single-layer cake.  You can garnish it with thin slices of crystallized ginger if you like.

This cake is best eaten fresh.

We had to try it, didn't we?