Friday, January 12, 2007

food that really schmecks (tastes good)

I first discovered Edna Staebler when Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict mailed me a package for Canadian Blogging by Post #1. The package included: maple syrup, apple butter, cherry jam, wildflower honey, a small cookbook by Edna Staebler Soups and Salads with Schmecks Appeal, a trio of lovely photographs taken by Jasmine and, last but not least, small bags of black peppercorn, cardamom and homemade candied ginger. A few months later I was in an old bookstore when I came across and bought Edna Staebler’s Desserts with Schmecks Appeal. The appeal of these cookbooks for me is the simplicity in which the recipes are presented, written and made – to me it embodies comfort food. As Edna says, they are “ not elaborate, or exotic, with rare ingredients and mystifying flavours; traditional local cooking is practical: designed to fill up small boys and big men and it is mouth wateringly good.”

Food That Really Schmecks along with the other books Edna has written is a record. It is history of notes and recipes passed on from family and friends in the Mennonite community as well as Edna’s larger community of Waterloo. It is a history that has been preserved and shared thanks to Edna.

“And you will pass on these recipes, not hand written in a little black book, but in a timeless Canadian cookbook.” – Rose Murray

When Jasmine contacted me to make and blog about something from Edna’s book, Food That Really Schmecks, I immediately said yes. After flipping through the book several times, I decided to make a maple syrup cake. There are a few reasons for this. First, I thought what could be more Canadian than maple syrup. Second, I thought I would make use of Jasmine’s maple syrup she bought for me and lastly because Edna represents a part of Canadian food history and culture.

Maple Syrup Cake

Two layers of sweetness and light!

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup maple sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butternuts or walnuts or pecans

Blend the shortening, sugar, syrup, eggs and vanilla. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder, stir in the nuts and add all to the blended mixture. Pour into greased, floured layer pans and bake at 375ºF for 20 minutes. Cool a few minutes, then carefully turn cakes onto racks to become cold. Put together with soft Maple Icing and ice all over.

Soft Maple Icing

1/4 cup soft butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups icing sugar

Blend butter, syrup and vanilla till smooth, then add gradually and blend in the icing sugar. Delicious, easy to spread – and it stays soft.

Both recipes were simple and straight-forward. The cake was a little drier than I expected so I decided to make some whipped cream. Since I had left over pecans I also made some pecan brittle for another texture. The Maple cake is a simple cake, and is definitely not as sweet as it sounds. The cake would go nicely paired with a cup of tea.

Recipes from Food That Really Schmecks, Edna Staebler

Edna Staebler, who in 2006 passed away in her 100th year, was an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor to Maclean’s, Chatelaine and many other magazines. She is the author of Cape Breton Harbour, Places I’ve Been and People I’ve Known and the Schmecks cookbook series.

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cakebaker_cakemaker said...

Hi :):)
I was interested in trying this maple syrup cake, but it looks like the quantity of flour is missing from the list of ingredients.

sam said...

Hi Cakebaker_Cakemaker,

Thank you so much for pointing out that the flour was missing in the recipe. I was having some formatting problems when I posted and I must have accidentally deleted the flour. I have double checked the recipe, so everything thing should be fine now. Thanks again!

Brilynn said...

Ahhh, that looks amazing! I can literally eat maple syrup with a spoon, and I guess it makes it more acceptable if there's also cake on that spoon...

cakebaker_cakemaker said...

Hi Sam,

Thanks for clearing that up for me.

I want to make this cake as a centrepiece for a ladies morning tea.
It will be great.

Thanks again

Jasmine said...

Absolutely beautiful. I told you this in private, but I'll say it here: Edna would be over the moon with how beautiful this is.

Thanks so much!


Jann said...

oh how beaitiful!Just perfect!

husky said...

Looks gorgeous! thanks for sharing recipe

Melissa said...

wow, what a great looking cake!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Wow, Sam!!
This is a stunning cake!

I'm so glad we can find maple syrup here in Brazil these days, so I can try this wonderful recipe.

Sam, do you think it would be ok to use butter instead of shortening?


Sil said...

Hi Sam... as usual wonderful photo. Unfortunately there is no such product in Argentina (at least I haven't seen it)but, have you seen Ivonnes's post about Edna in "creampuffs"?

Lis said...

As always.. what a beautiful job you did. =) The cake both looks and sounds mouth wateringly good!

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

That looks wonderful...I'm sure it schmecks too!

Ms_evinrude said...

i'm also interested in making this cake but like patricia scarpin i was thinking of replacing shortening with butter. do you think its possible? would you also be kind enough to share with me your recipe for pecan brittle?

peabody said...

Beautiful! Maple syrup kicks butt so I am sure this cake does too.