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.