Maple Walnut Crunch Cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 12 servings
Cake batter adapted from Country Living
Buttercream slightly adapted from Good Housekeeping
Crunch Layer
  • 1 cup chopped honey graham crackers
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup maple sugar *
  • ½ cup (1 stick, 4oz) unsalted butter
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick, 2 oz) butter
  • ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (use maple sugar instead, if you make it). See notes.
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon maple extract or flavoring**
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup toasted, very finely chopped walnuts (almost ground, but not ground--optional since you have a walnut crunch layer)
Roux Based Maple Buttercream
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup (2 sticks-8oz) butter, softened
  • ¼ teaspoon maple extract or flavoring**
  • pinch of salt
ALTERNATIVE Quick Maple Frosting
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon maple extract or flavoring **
  • pinch of saltt
  • Maple Candied Walnuts (half of this recipe), for decoration, if desired ***
  1. Grease or Spray two 9-inch cake pans with a neutral oil, then lay a circle of parchment paper over the oil and grease or spray the paper lightly. You don't need to use parchment circles, but it helps the cake come out cleanly after baked. If you don't use it, lightly flour the pan after greasing it.
Make the Crunch Layer
  1. In the bowl of a food processor pulse graham crackers and toasted walnuts until coarsely ground. Add maple (or brown) sugar and butter; then pulse to combine. (Can also be done with a pastry cutter or knife on a cutting board, then add to a bowl with butter and sugar and mix).
  2. Divide the crunch layer evenly between the two pans, spreading it so it covers the whole bottom each pan, then pressing it down firmly and evenly, as you would a graham cracker crust for cheesecake or pies.
Make the Cake Batter
  1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a large bowl using a mixer set on high speed, or a large bowl using electric beaters, beat the butter, oil and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until each egg is incorporated before adding the other one and doing the same. Reduce the mixer speed to low and drizzle in 1 cup maple syrup, then add vanilla and/or maple extracts. Beat on medium-high for 30 seconds. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk and ending with the flour mixture. Gently fold in the walnuts if using.
Bake the Cake
  1. Divide the batter equally between the two prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until a tester inserted into the center of each cake layer comes out clean -- about 30 minutes. Cool in the cake pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then using a knife, loosen the cake layers from the sides of the pans and invert the layers onto the wire rack to cool completely., the crunch side up. When cool, if the underside of the cake (the side without the crunch layer) is domed in any way, trim off the hump since you want the cakes flat
Make the Roux Based Maple Buttercream
  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the all-purpose flour and sugar until combined Slowly whisk in milk and pure maple syrup until uniform and smooth. Cook over medium-high, whisking, until the mixture thickens and starts to boil. Reduce the eat to low and cook about 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Take off heat and scrape into a medium bowl using a rubber spatula, and cool completely (I place it in the fridge once it hits room temperature).
  2. When the mixture is completely cool, place the butter in the bowl of your stand mixer or a large bowl (if using electric beaters). With the mixer at medium speed, beat butter until creamy. and fluffy. While beating, gradually beat in cooled milk mixture. Beat in the maple and/or vanilla extract and the pinch of salt. Increase mixer or beater speed to medium-high and beat until smooth with an easy spreading consistency.
Make the ALTERNATIVE quick Maple Frosting
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer or a large bowl with electric beaters, beat the butter until creamy and fluffy. Turn the mixer to low and add in the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, and beat until combined. Turned the mixer to high and beat until fluffy. Turn the mixer back to low and slowly drizzle in the maple syrup, then beat on high again until it's uniform. Beat in the maple or vanilla extract and pinch of salt.
Assemble the Cake
  1. On a cake plate or cake urntable, with strips of waxed or parchment lining the sides but not the middle, place one layer of the cake, crunch side up.
  2. Place 1 cup of the Maple Buttercream or Quick Maple Frosting Frosting on top of the crunch layer and spread evenly. Place the second layer, crunch side up, on the first and cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream or frosting (or leave the crunch layer un-frosted since it's pretty) If desired, pipe rosettes around the top of the cake with any extra frosting. Place a candied walnut in each rosette. Remove wax or parchment paper and serve. Store at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  3. AS I mentioned in the crunch ingredients, above, I make extra crunch filling without the butter; just the toasted walnuts, sugar and graham crackers, then press some of it around the sides of the cake, but that's entirely up to you. :)
* In a pinch, you can substitute brown sugar, but you can also combine a little less than ½ cup granulated sugar with about 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup to make a full ½ cup, or make maple sugar from scratch!
** If you cannot find maple extract, use all vanilla extract.
*** I made the full candied walnut recipe, then ground up what I didn't use to top the cake, and pressed into the frosting, sides and top. Of course you don't have to do this.
Recipe by parsley sage sweet at