Maple Pecan Cupcakes

After an onslaught of bullet journal posts, we’re going back to basics with a good ol’ cupcake recipe. Not just any cupcake recipe though- these are Maple Pecan Cupcakes. This is a recipe that I started developing many years ago (I’m not even kidding, it’s nearly been a whole decade). It was one of the first recipes I worked out myself and it’s also the first recipe of my own that I had somebody ask me for! I was very proud. Since then, mainly as a result of these being my Dad’s absolute favourite cakes ever, this recipe has taken on many forms and iterations, undergoing many tweaks and changes to get to where it is now: my (best!) Maple Pecan Cupcakes.

A quick notes before we get into it: this recipe can be very easily adapted to accommodate whatever shape/size cake(s) you would like to make. As a general rule of thumb, I like to go by number of eggs, and scale the other ingredients proportionally, i.e. this recipe uses 3 eggs and makes 12 full-size cupcakes, 4 eggs will give you enough batter to make 2x 8-inch circle cakes, 2 eggs will make 12 fairy cakes (flatter versions of cupcakes- I think this might be a British thing?) or 24 mini cupcakes. I’ve made all sorts using the ratios from this recipe (see below, for a couple of examples), and they all taste great!

I’m hoping to make a post at some point about scaling cake recipes, where I can talk about quantities, cooking times and temperatures, so let me know if you think that would be helpful!

For now, though, let’s discuss the cupcakes. They are maple syrup sponges with chopped pecans folded right into the batter. The cupcakes are then decorated with a maple syrup icing and a mixture of pecan halves and chopped pecans.

The batter uses 1 part brown sugar to 4 parts caster sugar. This just enhances that intense, maple-y flavour, but the cupcakes will still work if you replace the brown sugar with caster sugar. However, it won’t work if you replace the caster sugar with brown sugar! You’ll end up with a dense, solid cake that just doesn’t have the fluffiness that a cake should. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Now, let’s talk butter (an excellent topic, no?). I spent a lot of my childhood watching the Food Network, so I was essentially raised by Ina Garten (who, by the way, was the one who taught me to toss heavier mix-ins, like the nuts in this recipe, in flour before adding them to cake batter, so they don’t sink while baking!). She loves butter. I love butter. However, I was actually raised by my mum (and my dad, but he bakes bread, not cake). Growing up, we never made cakes with actual butter, but with Stork, which is a brand of baking margarine here in the UK. My mum swears that Stork produces a lighter, fluffier cake and, honestly, I have to agree (bonus! Stork is already quite soft, so you don’t need to worry about softening it/bringing it to room temperature before baking, which is a definite win in my book). I know that a lot of people have strong opinions about using baking spreads/margarines, and you by no means have to use it- this recipe will work fine if you use softened, unsalted butter instead, your cupcakes might just be a little less soft and fluffy.

Finally, I wanted to talk a little bit about the icing technique I used in this recipe. I tried my best to explain it within the recipe, but it makes it sound a lot more complicated than it actually is! I love icing cupcakes like this because of how simple the process is- there’s no piping, no needing to be perfect, no finicky decorations. You literally slap on the icing, give it a spread, straighten off the edges and roll it in chopped nuts (which truly cover a multitude of sins). A few tips: I like to use an offset spatula to do this because it helps with the movement and has a fine, straight edge, but a knife can also work. Put more icing on than you think you’ll need- you’ll end up scraping a lot off when you straighten up the sides anyway. When you’re straightening off the sides, hold your cupcake in your non-dominant hand, and, using your dominant hand, hold the offset spatula/knife vertically against the cake and run it around the circumference of the cake, turning the cake to help you.

Right, I think it’s time for the recipe, don’t you?


Maple Pecan Cupcakes

Maple cupcakes with pecan chunks, topped with maple buttercream and decorated with more pecans
Course Dessert, Snack
Keyword Cake, Cupcake, Maple Syrup, Pecans
Prep Time 20 minutes
Baking Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12 Cupcakes


For the cupcakes:

  • 150 g unsalted butter, softened (I use Stork baking spread)
  • 120 g caster sugar
  • 30 g soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 g self-raising flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 100 g pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp milk
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

For the icing:

  • 150 g butter, softened
  • 300 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 3 tsp maple syrup
  • 2-4 tbsp milk

To decorate:

  • 100 g pecan halves


For the cupcakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan). Line a 12-hole cupcake tray with paper cases and set aside while you make the batter.
  • Place the butter and both sugars into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on high speed for 3-5 minutes until pale and creamy.
  • With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  • Combine the chopped pecans with 1 tsp of the flour (this will prevent the pecans from sinking to the bottom of the cupcakes during baking). Sift together the remaining flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and mix on medium speed until just combined.
  • Add the milk and maple syrup to the mixer bowl and mix for a few seconds, until combined. Gently fold in the flour-coated chopped pecans.
  • Divide the batter between the cupcake tins (I like to use a regular-sized ice cream/cookie scoop for this- it fills the cupcake cases perfectly and ensures all of the cakes are even. You want to fill the cases about 2/3 full.
  • Bake the cupcakes in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden brown and spring back when touched. Because of the higher sugar content, these cakes will be slightly darker than a typical vanilla sponge- don't worry about this! Allow the cupcakes to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire wrack to cool completely.

For the icing:

  • Place the softened butter into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on high speed for 4-5 minutes, until the butter is soft and significantly paler (almost white), scraping down the edges of the bowl with a spatula as needed.
  • Add half of the sifted icing sugar to the butter and mix on low-medium speed until fully incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the maple syrup and 2 tbsp of the milk. Beat on high speed for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the remaining icing sugar, mix on low-medium speed until combined, then beat on high for a final 3-5 minutes, until fluffy and airy. Check the consistency at this point, you're looking for a buttercream that holds its shape, but is still soft and spreadable. If the buttercream is too stiff, add more milk, a little at a time, until your desired consistency is achieved.
  • Turn the stand mixer to low speed, and mix the icing for 1 minute. This will make for a smoother, silkier buttercream.

To decorate:

  • Set aside 12 pecan halves for later and finely chop the remaining pecans. Spread the chopped pecans out, in an even layer, on the chopping board.
  • Place a generous amount of buttercream on top of a cupcake. Using an offset spatula or knife, spread the buttercream out past the sides of the case. You're looking to get a flat surface, right across the top of the cake, with excess at the edges. Then, holding your spatula vertically (perpendicular to the flat surface of buttercream), scrape around the circumference of the cake to achieve a thick, buttercream 'disk' atop your cupcake.
  • Before the buttercream has a chance to firm up, gently roll the straight edge of the buttercream 'disk' in the chopped pecans, right around the circle. Finish the cupcake by placing one of the reserved halves in the centre. Repeat for the remaining cupcakes.

Let me know if you try these out, I’d love to hear about it!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating