Cornmeal Cake with Strawberry Balsamic Syrup
By Chef Lippe
Strawberries have been on sale for a while now and the other day they were buy one pound and get one free at the grocery store and they looked good. Once I got them home I remembered why I love the Farmers Market! The strawberries were big, bright red but so sour and did not taste like farm fresh strawberries! The only thing I could think of doing with them was to cook them with Balsamic syrup.
This cake is full of texture and golden summer flavor (sometimes I even add a little of our left over corn to the batter). The strawberries are first bathed in a little sugar to produce some juices that will turn into pockets of rich fruit.
It’s important to have butter and eggs at room temperature for the butter and sugar to aerate properly and the fats to emulsify. One way to quickly take the chill off of eggs is to place them in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes while you gather and measure out your ingredients.
The sugar level for the fruit will depend on the tartness of your strawberries. Add more to taste if you desire. Same for the balsamic syrup.
When placing small pockets of strawberries into the cake batter, drain most of the juice off so the strawberries are still moist but the cake batter doesn’t become soupy.
FOR THE CAKE:
1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, cake flour, minced rosemary, baking powder, and salt.
Using a mixer, on low speed beat the butter and vanilla together until combined. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Once the sugar is incorporated increase the speed to high and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and eggs, 1 at a time. Reduce the speed to medium and add the sour cream. On low speed add the dry ingredients just until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the surface with a spoon. Take some of the strawberries that have been soaking in the Balsamic Syrup and press them into the cake batter at random spaces.
Bake in the lower third of the oven until the cake is golden and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool. Transfer the cake from the pan to a serving plate.
FOR THE BALSAMIC SYRUP:
1/2 cup sugar (or more to taste)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar dissolved in a 1/4 cup of water
Small sprig fresh rosemary
Place the sugar, balsamic vinegar, strawberries (chopped) and rosemary in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprig and let the syrup cool.
To serve, place a slice of cake on a serving plate; spoon some syrup around the plate.