I love maple syrup. I eat it on oatmeal, yogurt, with granola, occasionally on fruit, not to mention the traditional pancakes and waffles. And I also have a (fairly rude, I admit!) bad habit of asking people who are traveling to bring me souvenirs! (Sometimes this backfires, as I have now acquired an ungodly number of mini snowglobes.) Anyway! A few weeks ago my co-worker went to Vermont and of course, I, with my usual thick skin, asked if he would bring me back some maple syrup. I didn't know this until a few years ago, but maple syrup comes in different grades. I had read that grade B was great for baking with, as it has a more intense maple flavor, so that's what I asked for, and that's what I got, and now, I have maple kuchen.
Maple Kuchen is basically a yeast-risen cake with a maple syrup and butter topping baked onto it. This recipe comes from the Baking Sheet, put out by the awesome folks at King Arthur. I've been subscribing for probably 5 years now and have made lots of the recipes. The first time I made maple kuchen was for a summer barbecue at my friend Cynthia's place (her mom makes the best ribs in the world, by the way) and despite the fact that we were all stuffed (with ribs, naturally), the entire cake disappeared in about 20 minutes. If that's not the sign of a recipe that's a keeper, I don't know what is.
This time, since I am lacking in a barbecue to attend, I halved the recipe and baked it in an 8" round cake pan. Try it warm with a little lightly sweetened whipped cream, or do what I do, and put a scoop of Greek yogurt drizzled with more maple syrup on top of it.
Maple Kuchen, from The Baking Sheet Vol. XVI, No. 2
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
The original recipe gives instructions for making this with a bread machine, which I don't have. So here is the method I used: Combine all ingredients except for the topping ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined, about 3 minutes. The dough will be very wet, sticky and batter like. Spread in a 13x9" buttered pan and leave in a warm area to rise for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together and pour evenly over the risen dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden, bubbling, and syrupy. Yields 16 servings.