Maple Syrup

Grandma's White Cake with Maple Syrup Frosting

May 31, 2021
12 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Makes one 9x13-inch cake
Author Notes

My Grandmother, who is 98 years old, used to make this cake for us when we were little. She lived in Upstate New York & Montreal where they have delicious maple syrup which she used in the frosting of this cake. —jvcooks

What You'll Need
  • Cake
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • Maple Syrup Frosting
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs, whites only
  • 1 pinch salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch cake pan.
  2. Using a standing mixer, cream together the sugar and shortening. Add in eggs and vanilla and continue mixing until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the salt, baking powder and flour. Add the dry ingredients into the sugar/egg mixture alternating with the milk until the flour is completely incorporated.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  5. To make the frosting, beat two egg whites to stiff peaks and set aside. In a sauce pan, bring maple syrup to a boil. Add a pinch of salt (I like to use flaky sea salt). Add hot syrup in a slow steady stream to the beaten egg whites continuing to whisk the whites while adding.
  6. Frost cooled cake.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jane Dunlop
    Jane Dunlop
  • S. Rodriguez
    S. Rodriguez
  • Debby Jarvis
    Debby Jarvis
  • Jassy
  • vvvanessa

26 Reviews

Jane D. April 28, 2021
this icing is a family tradition my grandma used to make too, though her recipe called it boiled maple frosting. due to the boiling of the maple syrup ( boiled sugar can be used too) she paired it with an angel food cake and topped it with fresh strawberries. It is very nice in the summer and pairs amazing with ice cream. She may have passed on but we refer to her recipes still.
mtrupin October 4, 2020
My mom, now 92, is from northern Vermont. She has always found the maple frosting a bit temperamental. It needs to 'grain' during final mixing, in order to get a fluffy rather than gooey texture. lt seems to her that high ambient humidity can interfere - or maybe it's the phase of the moon.
Darwyna September 28, 2019
Jennifer, please correct the recipe to include boiling the maple syrup to softball stage to make this frosting work. My grandmother born in and northern NY with a French heritage made this cake and frosting often. Most of the ingredients came right from their farm including the maple syrup from their sugar house. Thank you!
Michele February 2, 2019
Can I use oil or butter instead of shortening?
S. R. May 29, 2018
I just made the cake. I decided to make a different type of frosting, but the cake itself is good. Its not overly sweet and is firm, just like I like it. Its airy or a spongy cake, its a rustic dough. Very good. I will make again
S. R. May 29, 2018
oops meant to say its *not* airy or spongy...
T.J. October 1, 2015
Wow, this cake is delicious! I actually made cupcakes instead of a flat cake because I didn't have the right sized pan available. To me, this tasted like the most delicious pancake ever (not at all what I was expecting, but utterly delicious), which makes the maple frosting make total sense - it's the perfect compliment. I used slightly less syrup than the recipe calls for (probably between 3/4 and 4/5 of a cup) and followed the recommendation below of heating the syrup to 245* (just past the "soft ball" stage). I also whipped the eggs whites probably a bit beyond the stiff peak stage and drizzled the hot reduced syrup in very slowly while whisking at medium speed, and I had no problems at all - light, fluffy frosting. I will definitely make this recipe again!!!
Debby J. December 6, 2014
My mother (from Vermont) made this frosting often. I think she used only Grade A Fancy and a thermometer. Anything my mother made was delicious, and when she was baking, cooking, she paid close attention to what she was doing. My food will never taste like hers, but I do enjoy seeing these old recipes. I will try the maple sugar frosting with fingers crossed!
Amaryllis November 11, 2014
I love the story behind the frosting! Hope your grandma is well and still cooking! Thanks for the inspiration x
Nora September 24, 2014
though the cake was acceptable, the frosting was a failure. the texture was rather wrong and the maple syrup just separated from the eggs. I essentially drizzled the hot maple syrup over the cake adding moisture and sweetness. my husband just scraped the frosting off and enjoyed the rest. would probably not make this again.
AnneHD September 13, 2014
The frosting is a maple "mousse" a lot of people make in Quebec. The maple syrup needs to reach 245F before you pour it on the egg whites (see here [recipe in French]: What you get is a kind of maple italian meringue.
Brenda September 4, 2014
I made this cake and it turned out well for me. At 375* baking temp, the cake was a bit dry at 25 minutes, so next time I'd start checking it for doneness at 20 minutes. On the frosting, I used 3 egg whites and brought the syrup to 235* before drizzling into the whipped whites. Turned out great. I might cut back the syrup to 3/4 cup next time as it was verging on too sweet for our tastes.
Kim B. September 13, 2014
I'll give it a go again and follow your directions, thanks for commenting.
Kim B. June 28, 2014
The frosting doesn't work. Maybe someone who's a chef can tell us what's missing because it looks fantastic in the picture but basically liquid when you follow the recipe.
Linda C. April 9, 2014
Cake recipe is great. Made it in one large pan. 13 x 9. Frosting was a complete failure. I used real MS and drizzled it in while using the whisk attachment on my mixer. It was just a syrupy mess. I felt the recipe was missing an ingredient or proper directions?
Sheila March 13, 2014
All around failure for me. Cake like dry cement. Frosting was a huge syrupy mess. I followed the directions to a tee, so I am very puzzled.
Kit December 10, 2013
One warning I would offer is to be sure to use only real maple syrup, not maple-flavored pancake syrup.
Sarah November 22, 2013
I had no trouble with the frosting - I just kept my beater with the whisk attachment running on high as I drizzled in the syrup - it expanded in size by a lot and resulted in a not-too-sweet, white, meringue-like frosting. Really good. Also, I subbed butter for the vegetable shortening and it worked just fine.
TerrieM January 12, 2023
Sarah - for the frosting, did you add the maple syrup to egg whites that were already whipped into peaks, or did you add it to egg whites that had not been beaten at all?
Sarah January 12, 2023
I believe I did as the recipe is written - whipped the peaks first and then drizzled in!
TerrieM January 12, 2023
Christine November 12, 2013
I had problems with the frosting as well. It's tan colored (not white like the pic), much to sweet, and runny. I used a good quality maple syrup. Not sure what went wrong...
Jassy November 9, 2013
I made this cake yesterday with buttermilk instead of whole milk and it was delightful. The frosting, on the other hand, was less successful. I was skeptical about putting in a whole cup of maple syrup and cut it down to 3/4 or so and still found it to be grossly sweet and overwhelmingly maple-y. I dont know if it could've been the type of syrup I used? Ended up using a simple chocolate buttercream and all was well.
pam February 27, 2014
The syrup to use is NY Grade A Light Amber or Vermont Fancy. Any other syrup will have a heavier flavor, which is great if you want a strong maple flavor, but I think it would overshadow the cake.
Nancy M. November 4, 2013
Vegetable shortening has a big ick factor for me, even though my grandmother who was the best baker ever used it all the time. What would happen if I used butter?
vvvanessa November 4, 2013
That frosting sounds like something I need to make immediately.