Intense, but stimulating. Sweet, but not rich. Who couldn’t love this combination?
Warning: requires a whole cup (and then some) of maple syrup, and nothing else will do.
For the espresso cake
Enough espresso for 2 shots OR 2 tbsp instant coffee
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup icing mixture
100 g butter
For the maple cake
1.5 cups plain flour
1/tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup maple syrup
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup skim milk
For the maple–espresso frosting
1 shot espresso (Or instant with 1/8 cup water. If you must.)
250g cream cheese (1 block of Philadephia; low-fat is fine)
1/2 cup butter
3.5 cups icing mixture (and a bit, in case the coffee makes it too runny)
1 tbsp maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 180° C. Butter the bottom and edges of a springform tin (or two if you’ve got them) and line the bottom.
- For the espresso cake
Make the two shots of espresso using your preferred method – or mix the instant coffee – making sure you end up with 3/4 liquid in the end (top up the espresso like a long black if necessary). While it’s still hot, mix it together with the caster sugar in a small bowl (until the sugar is dissolved) and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
- If the butter isn’t soft, zap it in the microwave for 15 seconds. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a medium bowl with hand mixers) cream together the softened butter and icing mixture. Set aside (in a separate bowl if you don’t have a spare stand mixer bowl).
- Again with the mixer/beaters, in a separate (or cleaned) bowl, beat the eggs until pale, frothy and doubled in size.
- Still mixing, add in the butter/sugar mixture and the coffee/sugar, mixing until fully combined.
- Slowly add in the sifted flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
- Pour out into the prepared tin, and bake for about 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Leave on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before removing from the tin (which you may need to use it for the maple cake), then allow to cool completely.
(Mine was the happiest cake in the whole world.)
- For the maple cake*
If you’re using the same tin again, butter it and line the bottom.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside.
- Soften the butter if needed (15 seconds in the microwave). In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl with hand beaters), cream the butter and maple syrup together until smooth (about 4 minutes).
- Still mixing, add the egg yolk and combine, then the whole egg (and combine).
- Begin slowly adding the flour and milk, alternating additions and mixing all the time.
- Pour out the batter into the prepared tin, and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a bamboo skewer comes out clean.
- Leave on a cooling rack at room temperature until cooled to room temp.
(Imagine a cake sweetened only with maple syrup. The smell is heavenly.)
- For the maple–coffee frosting
When both cakes have cooled… Make another shot of espresso.
- Soften the cream cheese and butter in the microwave (about 20 seconds).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl + hand mixers), cream the butter and cream cheese together. Add in the coffee and maple syrup and mix until combined.
- Slowly add in the 3.5 cups of sugar, adding more if the frosting seems too runny.
(This is about right.)
- Allow the frosting to thicken slightly at room temperature**, then generously cover the top surface of one cake with frosting***, and place the other cake on top. Slather the rest of the frosting all over both cakes.
- Serve as the ultimate mid-morning pick-me-up.
*Ideally you can prepare the maple cake while the espresso cake is baking, then put the second one the oven when you remove the first. If you only have one oven/cake tin/set of arms, that is.
**You can also make the frosting the night before and keep it in the fridge, then take it out and let it soften at room temperature for about half an hour before assembling/serving the cake(s). If you’re doing this, keep the cakes at room temperature, wrapped separately in cling wrap.
***The espresso cake is denser, so it makes a perfect platform for the dreamy-sweet maple cake on top.