Maple is one of my favorite flavors. It’s also a flavor that is often mentioned in my Clockwork Dagger books, especially in connection with the northern kingdom of Frengia.
My new Clockwork Dagger novella “Wings of Sorrow and Bone” follows an important minor character from Clockwork Crown: Rivka. Her mother was Frengian and a baker, and teenaged Rivka is also a baker when you meet her in the book.
“Wings of Sorrow and Bone” begins soon after the events in Clockwork Crown. Rivka now lives in Tamarania City with her grandmother. Instead of running a bakery, she is pursuing her dream of becoming a master mechanist… but maple-flavored goods are still a major subject of nostalgia. They make her think of her old home, and her mama.
I looked around online for recipes that I thought would suit the more rustic world of my books. I found a maple sugar cake recipe
at The Kitchy Kitchen and decided to make some adaptions. I wanted something that would work for gift-sized loaf cakes.
Maple sugar is the one extravagant ingredient, but it can now be bought for a decent price on Amazon.com–heck, you can even subscribe and get it cheaper! A little maple sugar goes a long way, too. It’s potent stuff.
The resulting cake is perfect for breakfast or a snack. You can sweeten it up to your preference. Make glaze with the recipe below, or eat it plain. Plus, it freezes and keeps for months! I used it as a handy breakfast loaf to thaw out for company.
This maple loaf cake has a role in the novella, too. Maybe you can go all meta and eat some cake as you read about the cake!
Bready or Not: Maple Sugar Cake: A Clockwork Dagger recipe
This maple sugar loaf cake is featured in my Clockwork Dagger novella “Wings of Sorrow and Bone.” It’s great for breakfast or snack. Freeze the unglazed mini loaves and they keep for months. Recipe makes FOUR small loaves.
- For the loaf cake:
- 4 ounces unsalted butter (half cube), softened
- 1 1/2 cups maple sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
- Glaze for ONE small loaf:
- 1 cup powdered sugar (or powdered xylitol), sifted
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons milk of choice (more if needed)
- 1/2 teaspoon maple flavor or vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Prepare mini loaf pans (tin, stoneware, paper) by applying nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and gradually add the maple sugar. Beat until creamy; with a mixer, this takes about a minute. Add the beaten eggs and combine.
In a separate bowl, sift together the salt, baking soda, spices, and flour. Alternately add applesauce and dry ingredients to butter mixture. Once they are blended, fold the nuts into the batter. Distribute the batter among the pans; they should be about half full.
Bake for 25 to 30 minute, until a tester comes out clean. Let cakes cool completely. If they are in a tin or stoneware pan, remove them from the dish.
At this point, you can freeze the loaves wrapped in wax paper and plastic wrap or in a gallon bag.
If you want to eat them now, store at room temperature or in fridge. Serve with glaze (see recipe above) or topped with powdered sugar or even a small amount of maple syrup... or plain! Eat cold or warmed in microwave.
A loaf keeps for days if wrapped in the fridge. In the freezer, keeps for upward of six months.
OM NOM NOM!
My Clockwork Dagger novella “Wings of Sorrow and Bone” is out next week, so let’s delve into a maple-filled recipe that fits right into my books’ world!
This is an incredibly unique recipe. It includes yeast and a whole bunch of maple flavor. The end result is a cookie that tastes and looks like a maple cracker.
The secret to this is maple flavor in the dough and a healthy (okay, maybe not entirely HEALTHY) dose of maple sugar to create a crust on the top and bottom. On the base, this totally caramelizes kinda like maple syrup rendered into candy.
Which is what this is like, in a way.
In the Clockwork Dagger, the kingdom of Caskentia has many immigrant bakers from its northern neighbor, Frengia. They like to utilize maple. In The Clockwork Crown, you meet Rivka, a teenaged-baker who learned the trade from her mother. “Wings of Sorrow and Bone” continues Rivka’s adventure.
Maple is special for her. It’s the stuff of nostalgia. Also, it’s delicious.
These shimmering maple crisps play a brief but important role in the novella.
Next week’s recipe is also featured in “Wings of Sorrow and Bone.” Come back then to find out how to make maple sugar cake loaves!
Recipe greatly modified from The Monday Box
Bready or Not: Shimmering Maple Crisps: a Clockwork Dagger recipe
These shimmering maple crisps are featured in WINGS OF SORROW AND BONE: A Clockwork Dagger Novella. This unique recipe creates cookies that are like maple-flavored snack crackers! They keep well for over a week.
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more to smooth dough)
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon milk (almond milk works)
- 1 teaspoon maple flavoring
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (more or less as needed) maple sugar (or turbinado or decorating sugar)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the 1 1/2 cup flour, milk, maple flavoring, yeast, and salt. Add the softened butter split into several chunks, mixing well each time before adding the next. Dough will likely be sticky and shaggy.
Switch to a bread hook and slowly add more flour, a few tablespoons at a time, and mix. Pause to scrape the sides of the bowl and add more flour. Keep this up until it becomes smooth, elastic, and less sticky.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and stash it in the fridge at least overnight.
When it's time to bake, preheat the oven to 275-degrees. Place parchment paper on a large cookie sheet or two smaller sheets. Divide the dough if necessary, keeping the second in the fridge until you work with it.
Sprinkle maple sugar on the parchment paper; you're using this instead of flour to create your nonstick surface. Sprinkle more sugar on top. Roll out the dough, adding more sugar beneath and on top, until you're able to get the dough out into a rough rectangle about the height of a cracker. You will have sugar embedded throughout the dough.
Use a pizza wheel to slice the dough into 1 to 2 inch squares.
Bake for 50 to 70 minutes, until the sugars have caramelized and the cookies have achieved desired crispness. Follow the old lines the slice the cookies again, then lift up the parchment paper to a rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight, room temperature container for a week or more. Use wax paper between the layers of cookies to prevent any sticking. The texture will change some as the days pass--depending on humidity--but they remain delicious.
OM NOM NOM!
In The Clockwork Crown, you meet some of Alonzo Garret’s family. You even find out some of his favorite foods.
“…And tonight, Cook is going to make your very, very favorite, cardamom chicken with cashews, and there will be lemon curd with shortbread for dessert.”
I chose cardamom chicken because 1) I love cardamom, 2) it’s not a common American way to flavor chicken, which sets apart my setting. When I wrote it, I figured that at some point I would need to make the recipe for myself.
Cardamom chicken recipes are out there but vary widely. I decided to combine bits and pieces to create something new. The result was mildly sweet, tender chicken that was fabulous served with its own citrusy drippings. It’s definitely a different taste, but a nice one.
There are lots of options for leftovers, too. Eat it as-is, or chop it up for a salad with a sweet dressing, or add some Greek yogurt or sour cream and make it a chicken salad for a wrap or sandwich. YUM!
I didn’t add any cashews to my chicken, but you certainly could do so to add texture. I suppose at some point I need to do a new shortbread recipe that will pair well with lemon curd, eh?
Bready or Not: Cardamom Honey Chicken: A Clockwork Dagger Recipe
This original recipe inspired by The Clockwork Crown creates spicy, sweet chicken.
- 1/4 cup cooking sherry
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1.5 pounds chicken tenders
- Main dish
- 1 orange, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Place marinade and chicken in a large Ziploc bag and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees. Place orange slices in a casserole dish and lay the chicken tenders on top. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake chicken for about 15 minutes, flip the tenders, and bake another 10 minutes. Whisk together the glaze ingredients.
Pull out the chicken and check for doneness; it should be fully cooked at this point. Change the oven to broil and move the rack a bit closer to the top. Brush the glaze over the chicken--use every drop! Put the chicken in to broil for just a few minutes.
The chicken is delicious on its own or with the sweet pan drippings. You might even want to chop the meat into pieces to allow them to soak in more flavor.
OM NOM NOM.