Gâteau Sirop Muffins Recipe

Gâteau Sirop Muffins

Amongst all the towns Maxence and I cruised through on our roadtrip across the US, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana is the one that stands out the most in my memory (and no, I don’t receive any money from the mayor’s office). We stayed there a bit longer than originally planned — car troubles will do that to you, have you seen U Turn? — but unlike Sean Penn in Superior, Arizona, we loved every minute of it.

A few of my favorite minutes in Breaux Bridge were spent eating a hefty serving of gâteau sirop at local gastronomic institution Café des Amis. Gâteau sirop, or syrup cake, is a typically Acadian confection sweetened with cane syrup — sugar cane juice that’s been boiled down to a thick syrup — and optionally topped with pecans. Spice-rich, dark-flavored, and spongy moist, it is a cake after my own heart: I ate it down to the last pecan and swiftly added the mention “Pure cane syrup, one (1) bottle” to my Cajun shopping list.

I finally got around to opening said bottle last Sunday — I, too, wage a constant battle in the too good to use arena — to try and recreate gâteau sirop in my own kitchen. I searched the web for recipes, found a few that looked promising, drew up a comparison chart (welcome to the world of geeky bakers), and merged them into a recipe that I hoped would approximate my benchmark experience. (I did stumble upon a recipe that was supposedly shared by Café des Amis owner Cynthia Breaux, and while I enjoyed the piece that introduced it, I had strong reservations about the recipe itself: it called for no cane syrup — huh? — and an alarming amount of sugar.)

The batter was very quick to assemble, it is one of those wonderful one-bowl recipes, and the only pause in the process was the tasting of the cane syrup, for the sake of my palate’s education. My conclusions: pure cane syrup, when tasted on the tip of a spoon, can be described as a cross between molasses, for its powerful, almost petroleum-like smell, and Golden Syrup (which is a cane syrup, too), for its complex sweetness and lack of bitterness.

I had decided to bake a small batch of muffins instead of a regular cake: if the recipe was a disappointment, there wouldn’t be too much spilled cane syrup to cry over. As it turns out, such prudence was unnecessary — the resulting mini-cakes were just as moist and intensely flavored as I’d hoped — but no matter: it just gives me a fine excuse to bake a fresh batch sometime soon.

Gâteau Sirop Muffins

– 125 mL (1/2 cup) cane syrup (for possible substitutions, see here)
– 85 grams (1/2 cup, packed) unrefined cane sugar
– 125 mL (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 egg, lightly beaten
– 1 teaspoon French four-spice mix (or a mix of ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger)
– 120 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour, sifted
– A fat pinch of fine sea salt
– 75 grams (1/2 cup) raw pecan halves, roughly chopped

Makes 12 small muffins.
(Note: To make a 24-cm / 9-inch round cake, double the recipe and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.)

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and grease a tray of medium muffin molds (don’t bother if they’re silicon).

In a large mixing-bowl, whisk together the cane syrup, sugar, and oil. In a small bowl, combine the baking soda and 125 mL (1/2 cup) water and stir to dissolve. Add to the cane syrup mixture and whisk until combined. Add the egg and whisk until well combined. Add the spices, flour, and salt, and whisk until just combined. Don’t overmix — it’s ok if a few lumps remain.

Using an ice cream scoop for neater results, transfer the batter into the muffin molds, filling them almost to the top, and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops spring back to the touch. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes, unmold, and serve warm or at room temperature.

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  • This recipe is great but do you think I can use molasses, or will it be too strong ? thanks!

  • how does using syrup differ from using ordinary sugar? is there a distinct difference in taste and texture?

  • Now that you have cane syrup, you can make pecan pie! It is wonderfully tasty, terribly sweet and a Southern recipe and something I crave from the States-that and Pumpkin Pie.

  • Looks like a substantial muffin…could use one myself right now

  • Well, if those good-looking muffins are ‘too good to use’ around your house, I’m happy to come by and take them off your hands!

  • How funny–I am completely with you on the “geeky bakers” comment. Whenever I set out to make something, I cannot just follow one recipe (this goes for baking and cooking). I have to find 2 or 3 of the best versions, then mold them into one ultimate recipe, incorporating my own ideas as well. I don’t make a chart, just messy notes, though. I think it’s more fun this way! I haven’t heard of this type of cake, but it looks great!

  • Another “geeky baker” on board…

    Those cupcakes look delicious. How long would you bake it if you were to make it into a cake?


  • Carinejo – You will find substitution suggestions for cane syrup here.

    Kayenne – Cane syrup adds moisture and depth of flavor to the cake…

    Linda – Thanks for the suggestion! I hadn’t realized that pecan pie was made with cane syrup.

    Veuveclicquot – There is a note in the recipe on how to bake it into a cake.

  • Becca

    Now I know you prefer the DIY version of most delicacies, but do you have any favorite places in Paris that sell delicious muffins? (Starbucks sells them here, but they are an insult to the international muffin community in my opinion =) Merci beaucoup!
    An American in Paris who misses her muffins!

  • Thanks! I can get fresh cane juice here and is considering boiling down some. Chewing ice-cold, peeled, woody sugar cane stems used to be a Sunday treat when we were little. Now, we prefer a little more poise and bring out the juicer.

    Do you think the muffin/cake will still hold it’s structure if I omit the granulated sugar?


  • sm

    Beautiful muffins! Just curious about the quatre-épices blend you used (because I plan to make my own mix) — I’ve seen some with black (or white) pepper in place of the cinnamon or ginger, and some with allspice. Do you happen to have a good recipe for a version of quatre-épices that would work well with this cake? Merci!

  • Looks delicious. I’m going to make it this afternoon.

  • Clotilde, these look so lovely – and with those warm spices, they’re perfect for this time of year. I can’t wait to try them…

  • I think the cane syrup you are sescribing is possibly most like treacle, used often in the UK for cooking. Look at http://www.lylesgoldensyrup.com/LylesGoldenSyrup/LylesProducts/default.htm

    Treacle is less refined, thicker and stronger than golden syrup and often used in desserts such as Treacle Tart.

  • My grandfather, in rural Miss, made cane syrup every year. When word got out that he was starting a boil, apparently cars would start lining up–whether or not that is actually true, I cannot say as it was my father’s tale.

    I can say that there is a distinct difference in flavor between the cane syrup and molassas, with the cane being a “softer” flavor. Personally I love both. Oddly, my relatives us corn syrup (which I find foul) for pecan pie.

    My grandfather would make popcorn balls with pecans, and peanuts using the cane syrup.

    Thank you for the link to Steens. I’ll be placing an order.

  • melinda

    since I moved away from New Orleans where I grew up, I have had friends & relatives send me a steady stream of Steen’s ….I never liked maple on anything (my brother now lives in Vermont & sends excellent maple syrup but I am not swayed!) We used to eat it on ice cream too (talk about sweet !)

  • Anna

    Wow! They sound really good! I just made a blog by the way…and you inspired me! My mom told me about you and your blog and now I have my own! Keep on blogging…and baking! :)

  • Good lord I’m hungry from looking at your posts.

  • I just realized my last comment may have sounded gross. Sorry.

  • I hope that one day I can make a muffin that looks half as good as yours.

  • Gumbogal

    Clotilde, I’m a religious reader of C&Z and I cannot tell you how excited I was to see your post about Gateau Sirop. I grew in Louisiana and only moved away because it was difficult finding a job in my field. My grandmere and great aunts made this recipe on several occasions and it was wonderful. Every time I go home for a visit, I come back with a few cans or jars of cane syrup. Its smokey-sweetness is unmatched in recipes or poured over biscuits, waffles, pain perdu, or fried bread dough (only occasionally and followed by lots of exercise). My favorite use for it though, is on a sandwich of peanutbutter or cheddar cheese. YUM!

  • Just a quick question, and then I’ve definitely got to go and have a snack, do French chefs use anything that approaches molasses? I’ve found maple syrup in the stores (that was a pleasant surprise) and now even brown sugar…but never molasses. Hmmm, I just thought of ginger bread; what is used to make that? Perhaps I’ll have to take a break from stories on blueVicar.com and go snooping into the world of cooking…that or go eat lunch!

    Meilleurs vœux!

  • Mungo

    Pecan pie should only be made with CORN syrup – not cane syrup – http://www.karosyrup.com/index.htm is the only brand you ever seem to find in the Uk but I’m sure there are others. I guess cane sugar might work but it really won’t give the right kind of sweet-toothed taste (or be as traditional either!)

  • pcakes

    While it appears I am truly missing something by not having access to cane syrup, I made these muffins using dark corn syrup and they’re fabulous nonetheless. I made mini muffins, baked for 10 minutes and they’re gorgeous. Until I can get my hands on cane syrup, they’re more than acceptable.

  • I have been meaning to get some Steen’s cane syrup for about a decade or so, ever since I first read about Laurie Colwin’s love for it. She found it an indispensible ingredient in homemade gingerbread. Now I shall have two uses for it when I get it — gingerbread and gâteau sirop muffins…

  • congrats! why did u erase my earlier comment? a bientot!

  • Leigh Anne

    You’ve made me homesick, Clotilde. A Louisianna girl myself, I grew up on Steen’s cane syrup and I still itch for it when the weather gets wet and I want treats to sustain me through the chilly fall and winter. Your post touched my palate, and that warm place in my heart reserved for my native cuisine. Thanks.

  • Ewa


    This is the first muffin receipe that i have ever done where the muffins were so moist. Thanks for sharing.

  • pimpille

    Testé et approuvé ! I have just tried it and the whole family love them !. I used english mixed spices instead of french four spices

  • libby Sloan

    Mais le sirop de cannes existe en france. On le trouve assez facilement en supermarchés avec des boissons.

  • Libby – Le cane syrup de Louisiane n’est pas la même chose que le sirop de canne que l’on trouve en France : c’est un sirop beaucoup plus épais et fort en goût, plus proche en fait de la mélasse. J’imagine qu’on pourrait faire cette recette avec notre sirop de canne, mais la pâte serait pas mal plus liquide et donc prendrait plus longtemps à cuire.

  • Haley

    I found your website while looking for cookbooks. I recently become interested in baking again as I have just stumbled through some sort of “motherhood fog”-my daughter is two. I came across the entry for gateau sirop and was suprised to find that you visited my hometown.I live nearby but, my business is located in Breaux Bridge- my husband had lunch with a client at Cafe des Amis today! Steens is indeed a staple here, I even use it when baking ham.

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