Maple Walnut Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

maple walnut cake, sliced

This Maple Walnut Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting is my way of welcoming in the best season of the year…it’s 3 layers of fluffy maple cake with an irresistible maple buttercream. If you don’t snack on the leftovers for breakfast, you aren’t human 😉

a slice of maple walnut cake with maple cream cheese frosting

What could celebrate fall better than a triple layer maple walnut cake?

My summer love affair with layer cakes (like this one and this one) has naturally shifted gears and I’ve got my sights set on all things apple, maple, and pumpkin. I hope you’re subscribed to the blog (if not, sign up here!) because there are some incredible recipes coming out this season, it’s always been the most inspiring time of year for me.

slicing a maple walnut layer cake

Are you with me on maple walnut? It’s one of my favorite flavor combos, and I think it beats pumpkin spice any day.

The sweetness of the maple pairs perfectly with the slight bitterness of the walnuts. And there are so many ways to feature the duo, from maple walnut ice cream and scones, to slice and bake maple walnut shortbread cookies or a warm maple oat smoothie.

making a maple walnut cake

I like the extra layer because it gives me space for extra maple cream cheese frosting, which is what it’s all about.

Three layer cakes look intimidating, but there’s nothing complicated about them. The key is to make enough frosting to fill and cover the whole thing.

a maple walnut cake topped with candied walnuts

To finish the cake I patted crushed walnuts around the sides, and topped with candied walnuts. You can toast the nuts for extra flavor, but I didn’t bother. Fall is a good time to stock up on nuts for baking. I always keep a bag or two of premium walnut halves on hand, as well as cheaper bags of pieces. If you’re more of a pecan type, they would work fine.

a maple walnut layer cake topped with walnut halves

To ‘candy’ the walnut halves I simply dipped them in a thick caramel sauce. It can be store bought or homemade (I have an amazing salted maple caramel sauce on the blog that would be perfect. But you can also simply toss them with brown sugar and a bit of butter in a skillet until the sugar caramelized and coats the nuts.

salted Maple Caramel Sauce in a jar with a spoon

This maple cake has got that perfect combination of fancy and homey that I think distinguishes the best desserts..

It would make such a pretty presentation on a dessert table, but mine looked just as tempting sitting under my cake dome on the kitchen counter.

removing a slice from a maple walnut layer cake

It’s also the kind of cake you just can’t wait to dig right into, it’s hard to look at it all pristine and whole 😉 And even though this is a smaller 8-inch cake, it will feed a crowd because the slices are nice and tall. I think you could serve 16 and nobody would go away hungry.

Only have 2 cake pans?

  • No worries! Just bake the first two layers, and then bake the third afterward, it will work just fine.
  • If you want to make a 2 layer cake, best to bake this recipe in 9-inch pans. The baking time will be slightly longer.
maple walnut cake on parchment paper

why I like to use maple extract

Maple is a notoriously difficult flavor to infuse into cakes and other baked goods, so a quality maple extract helps a lot. Several different brands make a maple extract, just look for the words extractpure and all natural on the label and avoid anything that says artificial. It may come down to a matter of taste, each brand is a little different. And remember, a little goes a long way with this type of extract, so don’t over do it.

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maple walnut cake, sliced
4.87 from 58 votes

Maple Walnut Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

This Maple Walnut Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting is my way of welcoming in the best season of the year…it’s 3 layers of fluffy maple cake with an irresistible maple buttercream.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Yield 16 servings
Calories 704kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • two or three 8-inch cake pans



  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp maple extract or vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups cake flour (you can use regular flour)
  • 3/4 cup half and half substitute whole milk or buttermilk
  • 1 cup crushed or finely chopped walnuts


  • 16 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp maple extract or vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt omit if using salted butter
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 4-5 cups confectioner’s sugar sifted


  • 18 walnut halves
  • 1 cup finely crushed walnuts


  • Preheat oven to 350F Lightly grease 3 8-inch cake pans and add a round of parchment at the bottom of each. Note: if you only have 2 pans, bake the third layer after the first 2 have cooked.
  • Cream the brown sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Don’t skip this step, it helps make a light cake.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then beat in the maple syrup and extract.
  • Turn the mixer to low speed and blend in the baking powder and salt. Then add the flour and half and half, alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just to combine, don’t over-mix. Fold in the crushed walnuts.
  • Fill your cake pans evenly with batter and smooth out the tops, if necessary. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until the center is risen and springs back when lightly touched, and the cakes have just started to pull away ever so slightly from the sides of the pan. Let the cakes cool for 10-15 minutes before turning out and cooling completely on a rack.
  • To make the frosting, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth, making sure there are no lumps. Beat in the maple syrup, extract, and salt.
  • Add sugar, in batches, until you get your desired consistency.
  • Generously frost the cooled cake and pat crushed walnuts along the outer edge. Arrange walnut halves on the top.

Cook’s notes

If you only have 9-inch cake pans, I think it would be best to make this a 2 layer cake.  The baking time will be slightly longer, so keep that in mind.


Calories: 704kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 231mg | Potassium: 316mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 57g | Vitamin A: 1016IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 139mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    May 17, 2022 at 2:32 pm

    I don’t have round cake pans, could I use a 9×13 pan? Thanks, Sue

  • Reply
    Tamara putland
    September 16, 2021 at 8:15 am

    could you make this into cupcakes? If so how many would it make, what temp would you bake at and for how long? Im also thinking of adding a dash of cinnamon and some walnut pieces to the batter.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      September 16, 2021 at 12:25 pm

      I haven’t made this as cupcakes, so not sure how many it will make, but I’d cook them at 350F and check after 15 minutes.

  • Reply
    March 8, 2021 at 8:41 pm

    Hi there – are the ingredients listed under ‘cake’ for all three cakes total?

  • Reply
    Susan R Martin
    January 10, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    I made this recipe and I used regular all purpose flour. It came out tasty although I added more maple extract to the frosting (and extra teaspoon). The cake had nice taste to it but it came out kind of hard and dry. Should I have used cake flour in place of all purpose? Do you know what else I could have done wrong? I also made my own buttermilk using milk and vinegar. Could that have caused the problem? Please write back, as I’d like to make it again and am thinking of using Softasilk Cake flour. Do you think that would make the difference and give me moist light cake?

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      January 10, 2021 at 2:13 pm

      Hi Susan ~ it’s hard for me to know exactly what happened with your cake, but a few thoughts ~ yes, cake flour will always yield a more tender result, but you can make your own equivalent using a little cornstarch. If the cake came out dry or hard that sounds like over baking to me, so be sure to check your pan size and your oven temp. Also be sure to beat everything really well to incorporate air, as per the recipe.

      • Reply
        Susan R Martin
        January 31, 2021 at 8:05 pm

        Thanks for responding. I actually used smaller than 8″ pans (2 fo them) vs. the 9″ pans. Do you think that the half & half makes a difference vs. real buttermilk? I bought buttermilk this time from the market, forgetting that your recipe states to use half & half and use buttermilk as a substitute. Which do you think I should use, since I already struck out the 1st time I made this cake. I’m going to use cake flour this time also. Do I have to have the 9″ inch pans or can I use the 8″ pans? Wouldn’t the cakes just be a bit taller if 8″ are used?

        • Reply
          Sue Moran
          February 1, 2021 at 6:40 am

          The half and half and buttermilk will both work well, so no issues there. If you use 8 inch pans you’ll just have to bake the cake longer, so be aware of that.

  • Reply
    December 8, 2020 at 5:04 am

    4 stars
    I followed the recipe as written using three 8 inch pans. The cook time was 30 to 35 minutes.

  • Reply
    Deb Youmans
    October 30, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    Hi. I was wondering if this cake would freeze well?
    Thank you.

    • Reply
      October 30, 2020 at 5:59 pm

      It would freeze well before frosting.

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