Maple Pecan Chiffon Cake with Brown Butter Icing

As sophisticated sounding as the title implies, the making of Julie Richardson's Vintage Cakes recipe is fairly simple. And the result is a maple pecan chiffon that combines grownup textures with child-friendly tastes. The cake is fluffy and light like an angel food cake. The dense, concentrated brown butter topping offers a fine contrast. 


Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup (the real kind if possible)
  • ¼  cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 egg whites (at room temperature)
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans, toasted


Brown Butter Icing Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • (plus a few more tablespoons for thinning if needed)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Cake Directions:
Preheat an oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a 10-inch angel food cake pan with parchment paper. (Do not grease or flour.)

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the brown sugar by hand.

In another bowl, with a clean whisk, combine the yolks, oil, maple syrup, water and vanilla.

With the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, on medium speed whip the egg whites until foamy. Sprinkle in the cream of tartar. Increase the speed and whip until soft peaks appear. Slowly add the sugar in a steady stream on medium speed. Turn the mixer to high and whip until the egg whites are firm (not stiff.) Look for glossy peaks.

Add a third of the egg whites into the batter with a spatula. (The challenge is to combine well but not over mix.) Gently add in the rest of the egg whites. Fold in the pecans.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (A few crumbs are all right.)

Invert the cake pan on a bottle (or use a pan with legs.) Cool the cake completely. Slide a frosting spatula around the rim of the pan. Carefully slide the cake out and frost.

Brown Butter Directions:
Place the sifted sugar into a clean bowl.

Over medium heat, melt the butter in a saucepan. Allow the butter to change from a lemon to a chestnut color. Swirl the pan to ensure even heating. Remove the pan from the heat once a nutty sort of scent emerges. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the sugar.

Add the cream, vanilla and salt. Whisk until smooth.

You can use the mixture immediately as a glaze or wait for 30 minutes or more until the icing firms.