sweet corn cake with lavender-blueberry compote

“Ode to Sweet Corn,” Five Days of Delicious, Delicate Kernels


I have a confession to make – I am not a dessert person.  I don’t swoon over sweets or crave chocolate.  In fact, if dessert is an option, I’m likely to pass.  If for some reason I am tempted, my preference is usually toward fruit-based desserts or those that are light on the sugar with subtle touches of sweetness.  Crazy, I know.

Crazier still is that when I do make a dessert, nine times out of ten, I’m going to have a single serving and leave the rest to the hubs or sadly, eventually throw it away because we’ve abandoned it on our counter.  There are a few exceptions to that rule, and this is one.

My curiosity was immediately piqued by this recipe.  A sweet, buttery cake with two different additions of corn, garnished with plump blueberries, whole sweet corn kernels, and a lavender-infused simple syrup.  So simple looking, yet complex, subtly sweet, elegant, and unique.  Definitely a winner.  And definitely worth making again.

The cake starts out like any other – flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs.  But then, a few tweaks take it out of the ordinary.  Stone-ground coarse cornmeal (polenta) is added to the flour, adding a slight crunch and texture to the cake.  Pureed sweet corn and sour cream are added to the batter, tinting everything a pale yellow.  And a well-buttered pan turns the edges and bottom a deep golden brown.  Think of it like cornbread but sweeter, lighter, more delicate and even more delicious.

Certainly, the cake is good on its own.  But the kicker here for me is the lavender simple syrup.  I love lavender.  I love the way it gently perfumes a dish without coming across as too soapy or flowery.  And when paired unexpectedly with sweet corn and juicy blueberries, it subtly sings in the background.  The cake eagerly soaks up the syrup, adding even more to the moist texture.  One bite reveals the light texture of the cake, the crunch of the sweet corn, and the burst of the berries.  The dessert is simultaneously refined and rustic – perfect for brunch, easy entertaining, or to end a summer feast.

sweet corn cake with blueberry-lavender compote

recipe:  adapted from fine cooking


12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for buttering pan

1 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

½ c. stone-ground coarse yellow cornmeal (polenta)

3 ears cooked fresh corn, kernels removed, divided

½ c. sour cream

¾ c. plus 1 c. sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature, slightly beaten

2/3 c. water

2 tsp. dried lavender

1 c. fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-inch cake pan (couldn’t find mine, so I used a springform and it worked beautifully).

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.  Add cornmeal and whisk to incorporate.  Set aside.

Puree the kernels from one ear of corn until smooth.  Strain the puree (will be very thick) through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl, being sure to scrape all liquid from the bottom of the strainer.  Discard solids.  You should have approximately ¼ c. corn puree remaining.  Add sour cream and mix well to incorporate.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and ¾ c. sugar on medium high speed until fluffy.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and return to low speed.  Add the eggs and mix until incorporated.  The mixture will be loose and curdled looking.  Scrape the sides of the bowl again.  On low speed, slowly add about 1/3 flour mixture and mix until just blended.  Add about 1/3 sweet corn mixture, mix until just blended.  Repeat with remaining flour and sweet corn mixtures, scrapping bowl about halfway through process.  Do not overmix.

Using a spatula, scrape the batter into prepared pan.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.  If using a springform, let cake cool completely and release mold prior to serving.  If using a cake pan, let cake cool about 10-15 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack until ready to serve. 

Combine 1 c. sugar and 2/3 c. water in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved, about 5-7 minutes.  Remove from the heat, add lavender, and let infuse for 10-30 minutes (the longer you infuse, the stronger flavor you will have).  Strain syrup into a small bowl and discard solids.  Let cool. 

To serve, slice cake into individual portions.  Drizzle about 2 tsp. syrup over the cake.  Top with about 2 Tbsp. blueberries and 1 Tbsp. remaining sweet corn kernels. 

Serves 8-12.

Enjoy this elegant and simple summer dessert!

– j

All content and photographs © 2010 jb’s pour house

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