Archive for January, 2019

One year…

…twelve cakes. Hello, strangers! The crazy singing cooking lady does still exist, and after many years, she now has the time to devote to those things called precious hobbies. And this year, she is on a mission to accomplish a very tasty resolution: to bake at least 12 different cakes using different techniques in one year.

And we are off to a jolly good start.

First things first. If you have not seen the episode of Chef’s Table that features Christina Tosi, please do yourself a favor. Drop everything, starting with the post, and pull up your Netflix queue. Christina is the creator of my first cake of the year, corn blueberry cake. If you are confused by the title of the cake, hang with me. We have some ground to cover.

This cake requires a few… nontraditional ingredients. For starters, allow me to introduce you to one of my new best pantry friends: freeze dried corn. Get yourself a box from Amazon and enjoy the following cake or, even better, the glory that is crack pie. Once you’ve acquired your delicious corn and decided how to use it, throw some in the food processor and grind it into a fine powder. Another pantry addition is corn flour. You can get it by Bob’s Red Mill or I used Masa so I will finally have an excuse to make my own tortillas (though do you really need an excuse?) Finally, when you’re picking up your corn flour, also add some powdered milk to your cart (has your family tried our powdered milk? Thanks NPR, for never failing to make me hear this ad). No, I don’t recommend you drink it. But it adds a delicious depth of flavor to baking, somehow. I think Christina refers to it as the msg of baking land, and she could not be more on point.

Alright. Let’s get to baking Christina’s Corn and Blueberry sheet cake. You need a fair amount of goodies:

For the actual cake:

    • Nonstick cooking spray
    • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    • 4½ cups sugar
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 2/3 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
    • 1½ cups cake flour
    • 1¼ cups corn powder
    • 1/4 cup plus 1½ tablespoons corn flour
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Then we need some blueberry sauce:
    • 1½ teaspoons cornstarch
    • 1½ teaspoons water
    • 1/2 lemon
    • 12 ounces blueberries
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Now for some corn crumbs:

    • 2/3 cup milk powder
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
    • 2 tablespoons corn powder
    • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Finally, we need some frosting:

    • 1 stick plus 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 3¼ cups powdered sugar
    • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
    • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sour cream
    • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • And to put the whole thing together:
    • 1 recipe corn sheet cake
    • 1/2 cup whole milk
    • 1 recipe sour cream frosting
    • 1 recipe jammy blueberry sauce
    • 1 recipe corn crumbs
Let’s start with the cake. Go ahead and crank the oven to your standard 350. Grease two quarter-sheet pans with nonstick cooking spray and line them with parchment paper, or just line them with silicone baking mats. Now let’s make the base of the cake.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together starting on low so as too avoid sugar flying all over your kitchen (did I learn that the hard way?), then medium-high for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl halfway through this process, and again at the end of it.

Add your eggs, one at a time, beating on medium-high for 1 minute after each addition. After you add the last egg, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat on high for 4 more minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Things should be starting to look smooth and puffy.

Whisk together the buttermilk and oil, and with the mixer on medium speed, stream them into the batter very slowly. It should take you about 3 minutes to add all of this mixture. Scrape down the bowl, increase the speed to medium-high, and paddle for an additional 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is almost white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogeneous. Don’t rush this, or your mixture will split and we don’t want any streaks of fat or liquid. Stop and scrape again.

Whisk together the cake flour, corn powder, corn flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Then, with the mixer on very low speed, slowly add the dry mixture and mix for 45-60 seconds, just until your batter comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix for an additional 45 seconds to make sure no lumps of flour or powder get left behind. Divide the batter evenly between the quarter-sheet pans and, using a spatula, spread the cake batter into even layers.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pans front to back halfway through baking. The cakes will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and DENSE. Your cakes are done when you can poke the edge and the cakes should bounce back slightly; the centers should no longer be jiggly. This might take an extra 3-5 minutes.

Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack or, in the fridge while you make your other ingredients.

Let’s make some blueberry sauce.

To start, mix together the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Juice the lemon into a small saucepan and add the slurry, blueberries, sugar and salt. Bring everything to a boil over medium heat. Knock the heat back to low and continue cooking until the blueberries blister and the mixture turns dark blue, 5-6 minutes. The blueberries should still maintain their shape and not break down completely. Cool the sauce before using.

Last ingredient for today: corn crumbs!

Heat the oven to 250. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Mix the milk powder, flour, cornstarch, corn powder, sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and toss, using a spatula, until the mixture starts to come together and form small clusters.

Spread the clusters on the lined sheet pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. We should get a clumpy sand-like mixture. Let it bake until just starting to brown around the edges, and your kitchen smells ridiculous. Cool the crumbs completely.

Oh wait, the all-important sour cream frosting! YES you want sour cream. This cake begs for acid, and this is the perfect complement with sour cream and lemon.

Mix the butter, powdered sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 6-8 minutes, scraping the bowl down once to make sure there are no butter lumps, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then, with the mixer on low, stream in the sour cream and lemon juice and continue creaming until the puree is fully emulsified and the frosting is smooth and fluffy again. Increase the speed to medium high and mix until the entire mass is bright white, silky, and shiny. It should hold medium soft peaks.

Let’s put it all together!

Put a piece of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on the counter. Run a knife along the edges of one of the quarter-sheet pans of cake to loosen it from the pan, then flip that cake onto it and peel off the parchment or mat from the bottom of the cake. Clean the quarter-sheet pan and line it anew with clean parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Place the cake you just unmolded back inside the pan. Dunk a pastry brush in the milk and soak the cake with the milk. Then, spread half of the sour cream frosting in an even layer over the cake. Sprinkle half of the corn crumbs evenly over the frosting. Use the back of your hand to press them lightly into the frosting, anchoring them in place. Top the crumbs with an even layer of blueberry sauce. Loosen the other cake from its own and invert that cake directly on top of the frosting. Peel off the parchment or mat from the bottom of the cake and cover it with the remaining frosting. Garnish the frosting with the remaining corn crumbs.

Move the cake to the freezer and freeze for at least 12 hours to set the cake and filling. Go get some sleep, you’ve been in the kitchen all day!

At least 3 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull it out of the freezer and, using an offset spatula pop the cake out of the pan.

Transfer the cake to a cutting board and fill a mug with hot water. Use a chef’s knife to trim the edges of the cake so you are left with flush, smooth sides, submerging the knife in hot water between cuts and wiping the blade clean. Defrost the cake on the fridge for at least 3 hours before you slice and devour it. Meanwhile, enjoy your delicious cake scraps and go for a walk or run to prep your stomach for all the delicious incoming butter.

There you have it. One down, 11 to go. You have to taste this cake to believe it-it’s like the most wonderful lemon bar you’ve ever had. Dense doesn’t even begin to describe it. It hits every mark on your taste buds-sweet, sour, salty, tangy. It’s work, but it certainly doesn’t disappoint and is a true testament to the power of the simple corn kernel.


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