I’m a bit of a hypocrite. I know everyone is to some extent, and probably about several different things, but today’s focus is food (are you surprised?). Most of the time I’m all, “Oh I LOVE sweet and salty things. Can’t get enough” – of course this is a food trend right now, so you may also call me a conformist, but let’s keep this post to just one flaw.
With other sweet and salty combinations, however, I have a very firm critique. For example, whenever I take a bite of what I believe to be normal popcorn and it’s kettle corn, words can’t describe my disappointment. It’s not sweet enough AND it’s not salty enough. It’s like it has an identity crisis, and it’s stuck in some boring grey area. I feel similar about cornbread. It’s so deceiving in it’s deliciously yellow, spongy appearance, but then you bite in and it’s sort of…sweetish, but not really, and not salty enough, and don’t even get me started on when there are corn chunks.
Then, over Memorial Day weekend, my world was shaken when I went to my cousin’s wedding and experienced the cake. When I heard that the wedding cake was CORNBREAD, I was all, “whelp, no cake for me” – but ohhhh no, there was cake for me. In fact, this cake has rarely left my thoughts since. Sure, it was cornbread, but suuuuuper moist, and sweeter than usual. A fruit filling broke up the two layers of cake, and then there was this frosting on top…oh man the frosting. It was a simple buttercream, but a buttercream of champions. Light, fluffy, and so sugary it was almost granular…but in a perfect way.
So with some research, I did my best to recreate it. I imagined them as cupcakes at first, because I kind of can’t stop making cupcakes lately, but on this particular baking day I felt very impatient, and wanted to keep it simple and scrappy. So instead of making elegant cupcakes, I grabbed two pans that were (roughly) the same size and went for it.
Raspberry Cornbread Layer Cake
Adapted from Allrecipes’ Sweet Cornbread Cake
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup butter
From this tried-and-true recipe.
- 1 (10 ounce) package frozen raspberries
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup water
From this recipe right here, which I hadn’t tried before but it is a GEM.
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
As with most things in life that are awesome, this cake starts off with brown butter. Heat your butter up to a light boil, whisking all the while. Once you begin to see brown specks at the bottom of the pan, remove it from the heat and keep whisking for about 30-seconds. Set aside to cool off a bit.
Whisk together the flour, corn meal, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
In a small bowl, mix together the brown butter, honey, egg, sour cream, and buttermilk. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir until juuuuust moistened. Separate into two 8×8 inch pans lined with parchment. If you have two 9-inch round pans, go for it, but I was being scrappy.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, until both cakes pass the knife test.
While the cake’s-a-bakin’ get going on the amazingly simple raspberry sauce. Combine all raspberry sauce ingredients in a small pot, and turn the heat onto medium-high. Bring it to a boil and whisk away for 5 minutes. It should be nice and thick. Use a fine strainer set over a bowl to filter out the seeds. At first I was patient and let it sit like this…
Then I got bored and wanted raspberry sauce, so I used a spatula to stir and push down in the strainer until I got most of the raspberry goodness out.
For the frosting, beat together the butter (which should be at room temperature) and the sugar. Start out slowly until combined, and then whip it on high for about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon of whipped cream, and beat it on high for another couple of minutes. It should be nice and fluffy.
Now that you have all the elements just waiting to be made into something great, it’s assembly time. First, spread the raspberry sauce over the entire top of one of the cake halves.
Once you’ve used all the sauce, flip the other cake upside down and set it on top. You might experience some raspberry overflow. That’s okay.
Then you frost, and you frost like crazy. I was planning on just frosting the top…
then I blinked and this happened…
Then I blinked again and I had a spoonful of the remaining frosting covered with the leftover raspberry sauce in my hand. I don’t know how they got there but I know where they ended up (hint: in my belly).
I also know that I woke up the next morning with a sugar hangover. I responded to this hangover by cutting another piece to take some more pictures. This means that frosting may or may not have been consumed at 6:30am.
This cake emulates the cornbread wedding cake of my dreams in many ways. The slightly tart raspberry sauce is the perfect complement to the sweet cornbread, and then there’s the sky-high frosting which just…I don’t even know what to say about it. It’ll blow your mind and make you shake from sugar overload (in a positive way).
I’ll admit (because honesty is sort of the theme here) that the texture of the actual cake was slightly different from the wedding cake…mine was a bit more dense than the one I had on that fateful day in May. I suspect there may have been some tres leches action going on, or maybe some really cool technique I’m not privy to since I’m kind of late to the cornbread party.
Tres leches or not, this cake rocked my socks. It’s also super easy, and I’m 99% sure it’s the cure to a bad day. Trust me, it’s science.
Didn’t someone smart and/or famous say that the wisest people admit when they’re wrong? I’ve recently become wiser then because I was misguided in my previous cornbread judgement. Cornbread can be GOOD. Of course I had to fill it with raspberry sauce and top it with around an inch of frosting to come to that conclusion, but you know, details.