Maple Sugar Season in March

Warm days and cold nights keep the sap in sugar maple trees flowing. In New England, Native Americans  taught settlers how to slash tree trunks and extract the sap to use as a sweetener. These buckets from a local farm are collecting sap near my house, a sure sign of spring! Once the buckets are emptied, boiling begins. It takes about 35 gallons of sap to create one gallon of syrup.

Hardy New Englanders pour maple syrup right onto a bowlful of spring snow, but I wanted something warm so I tried a Maine Maple Brown Betty from Wild Maine Recipes by Kate Krukowski Gooding (Northern Solstice Publishing, 2007). I liked her variation on a traditional brown betty recipe, with maple oozing from every spoonful. With a breakfast like this, who needs pancakes?

Maine Maple Brown Betty

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup graham flour [I couldn’t find this, so I used whole wheat flour]

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon mace

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/3 cup water

1/2 cup pecans [the recipe calls for maple-roasted, but I skipped this step]

3 tablespoons maple syrup

4 cups apples, peeled and sliced (preferably Northern Spy or Granny Smith)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, oats, flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, pecans and butter. Stir with a fork until well-mixed and crumbly.
  3. Layer one third of the apples, then one third of the crumb mixture in a greased, 7 x 11 inch [I used 8 x 8 inch] baking dish. Repeat until all apples and crumb mixture are added.
  4. Pour water over the mixture and bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream [I used plain yogurt].


About heritagerecipebox

I am named after my great-grandmother, who only prepared two dishes, according to anyone who remembers. Somehow I ended up with a cooking gene that I brought with me from Richmond, Virginia to my current home in Boston, Massachusetts. I have worked as a journalist and published three cookbooks plus a memoir and a novel. This blog gives me a chance to share family recipes and other American recipes with a past.
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