Most think of the Vernal Equinox as the first day of Spring. It’s a celebration — a rebirth of the earth with flowers and trees blooming, warmer temperatures, fresh air, vacation plans, and a deeper connection to the ebb and flow of nature.
I think of these things, too. But, these days, Spring officially begins for me on the last weekend of March, during Maine Maple Sunday.
The celebration usually begins with a quick trip to Chase Farms in Wells, Maine.
Outside (and in the barn), you’ll find the sweetest horses, calmest cows, ‘porkiest’ pigs, and ‘yellowist’ baby chickens.
Inside, you’ll see fresh vegetables, grass-fed meat, wine, jams and homemade confections.
In the middle of it all, you’ll experience the influx of hibernating humans emerging from their winter nests, and the smell of sweet maple scented steam billowing from a sugar house in coastal Maine.
Click on Video below for a closer look at the festivities last year, and what to expect this year:
To celebrate, here’s a recipe for Maine Maple Sunday Walnut Cake!
MAINE MAPLE SUNDAY WALNUT CAKE
For the Cake:
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups cake flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans
- Chop 1 1/2 cups walnuts into small pieces
- Whisk eggs, milk, and vanilla together in bowl.
- In a mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed
- Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea-size
- Add half of egg mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute
- Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining egg mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds (batter may look slightly curdled). Give batter final stir by hand
- Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth tops with rubber spatula. Bake until tops are light golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes
- Let the cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes
For the Frosting:
- 3/4 Cup sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 1/2 Teaspoon maple extract
- Whisk sugar, 1/2 cup syrup, egg whites, and extract together in bowl and place over medium saucepan with 1/2 inch of barely simmering water.
- Using hand mixer, whip mixture on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form
- Remove from heat and whip until mixture has cooled and is very thick and glossy
Candied Walnuts for Top of Cake:
- 2 Cups Walnuts
- 3/4 Cup maple syrup
- Place aluminum foil onto baking sheet
- Simmer 1/4 cup maple syrup in small saucepan over low heat until reduced by half
- Stir remaining 1/2 cup walnuts into syrup then pour onto wire rack allowing excess syrup to fall from walnuts
- Let sit until coating is firm, about 10 minutes.
Put it all Together:
- Place 1 cake round on serving platter
- Spread 1 cup frosting over cake, then top with second cake round
- Spread another 1 cup frosting over cake
- Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake
- Garnish with candied walnuts.
Serve on Maine Maple Sunday!