Thursday, March 22, 2012

“New York State Maple Festival” & “Maple Raisin-Nut Sticky Buns”

Come, taste the Tradition! This weekend is Maple Festival time in New York State. There are so many iconic symbols that illustrate what New York State is known for and Pure Maple Syrup is one of them. New York State is one of 17 states in the USA that produce 100% Pure Maple Syrup. “The Empire State“ has a distinctive climate, its soil and trees are recognized as the finest, and perfect for producing Pure Maple Syrup.

Did you know that New York State is the second largest state in America to produce maple products? Yes, it is true, but Vermont is number one. Canada, although produces more than 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup, and it is mostly produced in Quebec. These dedicated “sugar-makers” take pride in their syrup, and all things made with maple. These Maple Farmers work hard in the forests to continue the tradition of collecting sweet sap for their production of Pure Maple Syrup. That is the way it has been for hundreds of years, and they intend for the tradition to continue for years to come in the future.

It takes more than 40 gallons of maple tree sap to produce one gallon of Pure Maple Syrup. A maple syrup production farm is called “sugarbush” or “sugarwood”. Sap that is collected is boiled in a “sugar house” or “sugar shack”. Maple trees can support between one and three taps, depending upon the trunks diameter. An average maple tree will produce about 9 to 13 gallons of sap per season. Sap is usually tapped during the day, but not at night because the temperatures drop which will restrain the sap flow. Maple Trees can continue to be tapped for sap until they are over 100 years old.

Maple Syrup is often eaten with waffles, pancakes, and French toast. It is also used as an ingredient in baking as a sweetener and for a flavoring agent in many recipes. The United States uses a grading system for their standards of Maple Syrup, which is divided into two major grades: Grade A and Grade B. The grade of syrup not for table use is called commercial or Grade C. Grade A typically has a milder flavor than the Grade B, which is a very dark color but has a very rich maple flavor.

I remember when I lived in upstate New York, there was a wonderful Maple producer called “Sprague’s Maple Farms”. They are located in Portville, New York. Portville is a quaint town in the Southern Tier. Numerous times I have been to their farm, not only purchasing maple products but to have breakfast and dinner at their restaurant. This weekend is their “Maple Festival“. Sprague’s is a year-round, full service restaurant, featuring their own 100% pure maple products. They give tours and demonstrations, plus have many activities for children. Maple cake donuts, maple cotton candy and sugar on snow are very popular with their customers. Sprague’s Maple Farm also has a beautiful gift shop featuring all their Maple products and also you can purchase products from their online store as well. But the best thing about Sprague’s is their “Pure Maple Syrup“. I can’t tell you how amazing it tastes especially on top of pancakes. So smooth, flavorful, and gooey, it brings back comfort foods that you longed for from home. So, experience an old fashioned good time, make Sprague’s a pleasure to visit. They uphold the tradition of generations who came before them, including Native Americans, who were the first to practice the maple trades. It’s Pure Maple Syrup time!
My recipe this week is in honor of our Maple Syrup producers called, “Maple Raisin-Nut Sticky Buns”. These delicious sticky sweet rolls couldn’t be more heavenly. They are a perfect way to start a leisurely weekend or for an on the go weekday breakfast. Tastes great with a cup of hot tea or coffee.

Maple Raisin-Nut Sticky Buns
1 cup coarsely walnuts
1/4 cup of raisins
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 pkg. quick-rising active dry yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of warm water (120 ° to 130° )
6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, divided
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Grease a 13 X 9 inch baking pan. Spread walnuts, raisins and pure maple syrup evenly over the bottom. Combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Stir in water, 2 tbsp. of butter and egg. Beat until smooth; gradually stir in remaining flour until dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 15 x 12 inch rectangle. Spread with remaining butter. Mix brown sugar with cinnamon; sprinkle over surface. Starting with the 12 inch side, roll up tightly. Cut into 12 slices; place cut side down in prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap; place on wire rack set over large pan of hot water. Let rise until buns double, 30 to 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 ° F. Uncover buns. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 1 minute. Loosen edges; invert onto a serving plate. Serve warm.
Yields: 12 Buns

Till Next Time…………..

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