Pecan and Maple Loaves
One of the things I find when I'm baking is that I tend to use something - whether a particular bake, method or ingredient - and develop it as a theme for a while. Both nuts and maple syrup have featured in a few of the things I've baked recently (see Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline Tart, Walnut, Fig and Blue Cheese Tart and Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting). It helps me focus on developing my knowledge and techniques. This little recipe introduced me to the idea of candied nuts - which are strangely addictive to munch on and yet so easy to make.
The recipe is adapted from the latest in the Great British Bake Off books 'Learn to Bake'. This is in a different format from its predecessors, and is very much aimed at the novice baker. There are lots of recipes though that would appeal to more advanced bakers, too. These little cakes are easy to make, but full of flavour. I've topped them with a simple icing glaze rather than the cream cheese topping used in the book.
Pecan and Maple Loaves
Ingredients (makes 8)
125g softened unsalted butter
50g light brown muscovado sugar
150ml maple syrup
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
125g self-raising flour
100g pecan halves
For the glaze
About 125g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbspn maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 160 Fan / 180 Conventional / 350 F / Gas 4. The recipe uses 8 cardboard mini loaf moulds - I got these ones from my local Asda, but you can get similar from Lakeland.
Pick out 8 nice pecan halves and set on one side. Chop the others - not too finely, as you want a bit of texture. Into 3 or 4 pieces is probably ideal.
Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and mix until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and maple syrup, and then the flour. Mix until blended. Fold in the chopped nuts. Divide the mixture evenly among the moulds so that each is about two thirds full.
Place in the oven and bake for 25 - 30 minutes until golden, risen and springy to the touch.
Put the 8 reserved pecans into a bowl and mix with a tablespoon of the maple syrup. Spoon them onto a baking tray lined with parchment, and ensure the nuts are coated in the syrup. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Be careful as the syrup will have caramelised and will be extremely hot (so don't even think about dipping your finger in to taste it - you will get burnt). Leave until cold when the syrup will have formed a crisp coating.
Make the frosting by mixing the icing sugar with the maple syrup, and a few drops of water if it it too stiff. You want a thick, but spoonable, consistency. Pour over the loaves, making sure the tops are coated. Add a pecan half to the top of the cakes and allow to set.
It's a little tricky getting the cakes out from the moulds until you get the knack of undoing the seams carefully. You can then use a knife to loosen the icing from the cardboard. They'll then transfer easily to a plate.
Just ready for eating!