Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

To celebrate Canada's birthday, I am sharing the recipe for a cake I created yesterday.  It has a notoriously Canadian maple flavor and resembles the Canadian flag.

Maple Walnut Cake with Maple Icing

I have mentioned previously that I have dual American-Canadian citizenship. Living in the United States, we don't typically celebrate Canada Day - but I usually at least recognize it in my heart.

Canada Day is celebrated on July 1st every year. It was originally called “Dominion Day,” because Canada became an independent, self-governed dominion of England on July 1st, 1967. According to the Government of Canada's Canadian Heritage website, in 1982 the name of this National holiday was changed to Canada Day.

Canada is still a very young country.  I am old enough to remember celebrating her 100th birthday in 1967; less than a decade later we celebrated the Bicentennial of the United States.

This year, partly so I would have something Canadian to blog about, I decided to make a special dessert for Canada Day. I wanted something that would 

  • be attractive to photograph 
  • represent Canada well
  • taste delicious.  
I finally decided that I would make a maple-flavored cake, because Canada is known for its maple syrup.  

Yesterday was busy, so I just doctored a cake mix, using about the same amount of maple flavoring and nuts that I would use in a maple-nut muffin recipe. 

I did make the icing from scratch. I improvised a buttercream frosting - I think the recommendation is 1-part butter to 2-parts icing sugar, but today I used 1-part butter to 3-parts icing sugar, and it turned out well.  I added maple syrup instead of my usual splash of milk, to give the frosting a natural subtle maple flavor. 

This cake would be delicious undecorated, but in honor of Canada Day, I used some red icing and frosted it to look like a Canadian Flag. It really wasn't very hard to do.  In fact, it turned out well enough that I wish I was going to a party, so I could take it there!

Here is how I made it:

Maple Walnut Cake with Maple Icing

Pre-heat oven according to cake-mix directions.

Grease 9x13 inch pan according to cake mix instructions.

Prepare a maple leaf template

  •  by printing out a free template from the internet (as long as copyright allows) 
  • by tracing a design that would nicely fit in the center of the cake.  
Note: A simple design that has straight rather than curly leaf edges is easiest to use. 
Once you decide on a template, carefully cut it out to use as a guide for icing the cake.  

I scanned the maple leaf tracing that I used, but you may need to adjust the size to fit your pan if you use this one.

Maple Walnut Cake (ingredients and directions)

Yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup butter
1/cup water
1 tablespoon imitation maple flavor
1 cup chopped walnuts

Mix and bake cake according to cake mix directions, but also add 1 cup of chopped walnuts and 1 tablespoon imitation maple flavoring. Bake as directed. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.  Place on serving tray when cool.

Maple Buttercream Icing (ingredients and directions)

1 cup butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. red food coloring paste

Beat butter until very soft with electric mixer.  Add icing sugar slowly, beat until well incorporated.  Add maple syrup. Beat well
Divide icing into two roughly equal batches.  Add enough food coloring paste to one batch to dye it a deep red, blend very well.

This photo shows the paper template, metal spatulas, and thin knife I used to mark the flag design and ice the cake.

How to ice a cake with a Canadian Flag design:

  • Using the narrow side of the cake mix box as a guide, lightly draw a line down either side of the cake with a sharp knife. 
  • Carefully lay the maple leaf template in the center of the cake.  Using a sharp knife, gently trace lightly around the template.  Remove template.

  • Place a dab of red icing in the middle of the leaf. Gently use a narrow metal spatula to spread and push the icing out towards the outline of the leaf.  Take your time, and just nudge it so it fills in the areas within the lines you have drawn.  
  • Add more icing as needed and always work from the inside to the outside of the design.

  • When red areas of flag pattern (maple leaf, and left /right sections on top and sides of cake) are all completely filled in with red icing, clean spatula and let icing set a little.
  • Carefully place dabs of white icing in spaces of cake not yet iced, and gently use narrow metal spatula to nudge this so it fills in blank areas.  
  • Be careful not to get any red icing on your spatula, or mixed in with the white icing.  If this occurs, immediately scrape blended part carefully off, clean spatula and resume icing.  

Minor imperfections will add to the charm of the cake, so don't worry if everything doesn't end up completely smooth and perfect!

Oh Canada - Happy Canada Day!

 Happy Birthday Canada!


This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog.  Check them out!


  1. Love our Canadian neighbors and this is a yummy lookin' cake!

    1. Just had a piece - it actually is really good :)

  2. Thanks for visiting and for the mention on your blog. Happy Canada Day to you too!

  3. I'm seriously impressed! First, the cake sounds so yummy, and secondly, your canadian flag is amazing. Happy Canada Day!

    1. Thanks Lana - it was fun to make! Actually, I was a little worried, because I posted the recipe this morning before anyone had tasted the cake! A bunch of teenagers are here tonight though - it is well on it's way to being devoured, and they said it is really good:) Whew!

  4. Happy Canada Day to you, too. New follower, fan here! Love this cake. I've always wondered how bakers get the designs "within the lines" Now I know! Pinning

    1. THanks for the compliment and for following Sinea! I have decorated a lot of cakes this way, and with practice it gets easier. I know a lot of people decorate with an icing bag and tips, but I prefer to "paint" the cake with a thin spatula :)
      Glad this was helpful!

  5. Terrific looking cake! Happy Canada Day for sure!


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