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Burnt Sugar Cake with Maple Icing

Course Dessert
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12


For the syrup

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup boiling water

For the cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 9 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature (2 sticks plus 2 TBS)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup burnt sugar syrup

For the maple icing

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 TBS heavy cream


To make the maple syrup:

  • Place the sugar evenly in a pan and turn the burner on high (a cast-iron skillet is great for this). Let the sugar melt. Don’t stir the sugar--it will form sugar crystals and clump up--but you can gently move the pan to swirl it. The sugar will dissolve, then start to turn light brown. While the sugar is cooking, boil the water. When the sugar has turned to a golden amber color and is smoking a bit, take it off the heat. Very carefully drizzle in the boiling water. It will sputter when you do this--make sure you are wearing long sleeves. Return the pan to the heat once all of the water has been added, and stir until combined. Set aside to cool.

To make the cake:

  • In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), cream together the butter, sugar and light brown sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one a time. Add the vanilla extract. In a separate small bowl, mix together the sour cream and ½ cup of burnt sugar syrup. You will have extra syrup. Save it--it’s delicious in coffee!
  • Add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the butter, sugar and eggs, mixing just until the flour is incorporated, then add ⅓ of the sour cream/burnt sugar syrup mixture. Repeat until you have a uniform cake batter, taking care not to overmix. Scoop the batter into a well-greased 10-12 cup Bundt pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F until the top springs back when you press it and a cake tester comes out clean, about 1 hour.
  • Let cool completely before unmolding and icing.

To make the icing:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, salt and confectioners sugar. Add the vanilla extract and maple syrup. Add the heavy cream one tablespoon at a time, until the icing is a nice, spreadable consistency.
  • Place the cake on a platter. Using an offset spatula, spread the icing over the top of the cake.


From: Louise Miller, as included at the end of The Late Bloomers’ Club
Note on making the syrup: Never walk away from the sugar syrup while making it, and never touch it. Caramelizing sugar is an extremely hot process. Please use caution.