This Maple-Pecan Bread is beautifully flavored with maple syrup and when you take it out of the oven, your whole house will be filled with that wonderful smell. It is so good to eat when it is still warm, spread just with butter, along with coffee and believe me, your brunch guests will be giving you compliments and asking for the recipe.
What would we do without maple syrup? How would we eat our pancakes, waffles or French toast, not to mention using it in ice cream, hot cereal, baked beans, sweet potatoes, cakes, pies, candy and caramel sauce. When you see a stack of pancakes with a pat of butter on it, with the maple syrup running down the sides, your mouth automatically starts to water. So where does maple syrup come from?
Native Americans in northeastern North America taught the European colonists how to tap certain maple trees and boil the sap into syrup. Now Canada makes 80% of the world’s maple syrup, with the vast majority coming from Quebec. Vermont is the biggest U.S. producer (920 thousand gallons in 2009). Maine and New York are the next biggest producers. The maple leaf is on the Canadian flag and it is the state tree of New York and Vermont.
Maple syrup is made by boring holes in sugar maple tree trunks into which tubes are inserted, allowing the sap to flow into buckets. Or plastic tubing with a partial vacuum is used and the sap is pumped into holding tanks, then taken to a sugarhouse where it is boiled in evaporators until it has the correct density of 66% sugar. If the density is too low it will spoil. If it is too high the syrup will crystallize in the bottles. It takes about 10 gallons of sap to make one quart of maple syrup.
Another way to use this bread is to make sandwiches, like this one, which has melted Teleme or soft Jack cheese topped with thick slices of crisp Applewood smoked bacon.
Or use it as a base for lovely little appetizers covered with a mixture of cream cheese and minced dried apricots and a crisp slice of apple or pear.
½ cup salted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons brandy or bourbon
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 cup pecan halves, lightly toasted, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and set aside.
2. Roast the pecan halves on a sheet for 5 minutes in the 350 degree oven. Chop into ¼-inch pieces.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, syrup, vanilla, buttermilk and brandy. Mix well. Batter may look broken. It’s ok.
4. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and allspice in a large bowl. Mix well.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring to prevent lumps. Add the chopped pecans and mix just enough to incorporate the ingredients.
6. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the bread.
Apricot Cream Cheese and Apples on Maple-Pecan Bread
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped fine
6 slices Maple-Pecan Bread
3 firm apples or pears, halved seeded and sliced thin
Combine the cream cheese and apricots. Spread or pipe the mixture on the 6 slices of bread. Stand a line of sliced pears or apples on their edges in the cream cheese. Makes 6 servings.
Bacon-Teleme Melt on Maple-Pecan Bread
½ – 1 pound bacon, preferably apple smoked
12 thin slices Maple-Pecan Bread
1 pound Teleme cheese (or a soft Jack cheese), sliced
Preheat the Broiler to 500 degrees.
Cook the bacon until golden brown and crisp. Drain on a paper towel. Cover the bread with the cheese. Place under the broiler and heat until the cheese melts and is slightly bubbly. Remove the bread from the broiler and top 6 slices with the bacon. Put the remaining slices over them to make a closed sandwich.