Maple & pear ruffle cake

Maple & pear ruffle cake

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(5 ratings)

Prep: 1 hr, 30 mins Cook: 40 mins

A challenge

Serves 16

A grown-up, lightly-spiced sponge that is sandwiched with pears caramelised in maple syrup and topped with meringue buttercream

Nutrition and extra info

  • un-iced

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal643
  • fat40g
  • saturates25g
  • carbs65g
  • sugars48g
  • fibre2g
  • protein6g
  • salt0.5g
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  • 225g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 175g light brown soft sugar



    Honey and syrups made from concentrated fruit juice were the earliest known sweeteners. Today,…

  • 4 large eggs



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition packed with protein and a…

  • 325g plain flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1½ tbsp baking powder
    Baking powder

    Baking powder

    bay-king pow-dah

    Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

  • 300ml full-fat milk



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a 'complete' food…

  • edible gold spray (optional), to decorate

For the caramelised pears

  • 4 large conference pears, ripe but firm
  • juice ½ lemon



    Oval in shape with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile…

  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
    Maple syrup

    Maple syrup

    may-pul sir-rup

    The rising spring sap of a number of varieties of maple tree

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

For the meringue buttercream

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 320g light brown soft sugar



    Honey and syrups made from concentrated fruit juice were the earliest known sweeteners. Today,…

  • 480g unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 tbsp maple syrup
    Maple syrup

    Maple syrup

    may-pul sir-rup

    The rising spring sap of a number of varieties of maple tree


  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and grease 3 x 20cm sandwich tins, lining the bases with baking parchment and greasing the parchment too.

  2. To make the sponge, put the butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk until light and fluffy, about 5 mins. Add the eggs, a little at a time, beating until fully incorporated before adding more. In another bowl, mix the flour, cornflour, spices and baking powder. Stir in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the milk. Divide the batter among the prepared tins, smooth the surfaces and bake for 25-30 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack, peeling off the parchment, to cool completely.

  3. For the caramelised pears, peel, core and dice them into small cubes, tossing with the lemon juice as you go. Tip into a frying pan with the maple syrup and butter, and cook over a medium-high heat until the pears have softened and most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool.

  4. For the buttercream, put the egg whites and sugar in a large heatproof bowl (the bowl of your tabletop mixer, if you have one) and place over a pan of gently simmering water. Whisk until the sugar has fully dissolved - you can test this by dipping two fingers into the bowl and rubbing them together; if you can’t feel any grains of sugar, the mixture is ready. Remove the bowl from the pan and beat with an electric whisk (or use your tabletop mixer) until a thick meringue has formed. Continue whisking until the meringue has cooled to room temperature.

  5. Slowly beat in the butter, 1 tbsp at a time. The mixture should now look like a silky- smooth buttercream – if it doesn’t, continue to whisk until it does. If it still refuses to thicken, it may be the mixture is still too warm, so chill for 10 mins, then continue whisking. Whisk in the maple syrup last.

  6. To assemble the cake, place the first sponge on a cake board or serving plate and spread with a thin layer of the buttercream. Top with half of the caramelised pear chunks, discarding any leftover liquid. Repeat, finishing with the third sponge.

  7. To finish, spread a very thin layer of the buttercream over the sides and top of the cake – this is called ‘crumb-coating’ (see tip). Now spread a thick layer of buttercream on top of the cake. Put the remaining buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a small petal piping tip (see tip). Hold the piping bag with the wide end of the nozzle touching the side of the cake, at the very bottom. Gently wiggle the bag side to side, back and forth, in a zigzag motion, working up the cake in a strip. Repeat, starting next to the previous strip each time, working all the way around the cake until it’s entirely covered. To finish, pipe 1 row of buttercream around the edge of the top of the cake (which will neaten any rough edges at the top of your zigzags). If you like a little sparkle, finish the cake with a coat of edible gold spray. Best served within 2 days of baking, but the cake will keep for up to 4 days.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Ruth Emanuel's picture
Ruth Emanuel
4th Nov, 2018
I tried this recipe as my first buttercream cake ever - and it worked wonderfully. Very nice spicy taste of the sponge. As I am German and we generally like our cakes a bit less sweet than the British, I didn't use the meringue buttercream but instead a "ermine" or "flour buttercream" (recipe for example here: which is perfect if you want to use less sugar. Still added the maple syrup as described and it worked a treat.
24th Jul, 2017
I made this for my birthday, and am going to make it again next weekend when my sister visits. It's absolutely delicious. I only used half the amount of buttercream and didn't bother coating the sides of the cake as I felt it would make the cake too sweet for me, also I'm not very good with piping buttercream.
30th Mar, 2015
Made this for a 60th birthday and it turned out beautifully. Followed the recipe exactly and had no problems with it. Everyone loved it. The only tip I would pass on is to make sure you do just put a thin layer of the buttercream on the layers. The ruffle effect takes lots of buttercream to do and I only just had enough to finish it.
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mi cooking's picture
mi cooking
30th Dec, 2019
Great cake but I had an issue with the icing: the texture was lovely when adding the butter, but when I added the last small knob of butter the texture just changed and the icing would no longer make beautiful patterns as it did from the start. Maybe the eggs weren't large enough or somehow I added just a bit too much butter. I added the syrup and it tasted fine and didn't have a buttery taste. I ended up doing 'naked cake' by spreading icing thinly round rather than piping it, and poached another pear in thin slices in microwave to add it as a decoration on top. It was still amazing and everybody loved it. Next time I might be using 450 ml butter and see if that looks and tastes right.
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