It seems that summer is finally in full swing. The air is warm and the sun is shining (sunshine is relegated to a couple of summer months here in Oregon ;)). It is time to start thinking about picnics and barbeques and I have the perfect cake for you to take along on these outdoor eating adventures.This beautiful cake is the perfect conduit for ripe, juicy summer fruits. When I was growing up we often ate strawberries and Cool Whip (gasp!) over store-bought, Twinkie-like sponge cakes. But this cake is in an entirely different league!
The real value in this cake is its incredible texture. The cornmeal presence gives it a slightly granular mouthfeel but the cake is also very moist. Soaking the cornmeal in hot water softens the texture and provides the perfect background to build the cake upon.
This cake relies on oil alone for the fat which gives it a soft, moist texture. A couple of tablespoons of lemon zest brightens the cornmeal flavor and marries wonderfully with the sweet-tart berries and tangy cream filling.
This cake is also sturdy without seeming heavy. The nice firm texture of this cake enables it to absorb juices from the fruit without becoming soggy or weakly structured. Although I have used strawberries in this cake, there are endless possibilities of fruit types you could pair it with. Last week I filled it with mango curd and drizzled it with a lemon glaze for a Mexican buffet. It was delicious!
If you prefer more filling and less cake you can bake 2/3 of the recipe in two 8-inch pans and torte each layer for a total of 4 thinner layers. Then layer with three layers of strawberries and cream filling.
Get creative and fill this delightful cake with your favorite summer fruit.
- 7 ½ ounces (213 grams) cornmeal- 1 ½ cups
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (270 milliliters) boiling water
- 6 large eggs
- 9 ounces (255 grams) sour cream
- 18 ¾ ounces (531 grams) sugar
- 1 cup plus 3 ½ tablespoons (293 milliliters) corn or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) lemon zest
- 15 ounces (425 grams) all-purpose flour-3 cups
- 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon (4 milliliters) salt
- 2 cups (½ liter) strawberries sliced or coarsely chopped
- 2-4 tablespoons (25-50 grams) granulated sugar to taste
- 4 ounces (113 grams) cream cheese, softened
- 3 ½ ounces (100 grams) granulated sugar- ½ cup
- 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt
- 2 cups (480 milliliters) heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C). Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with Baker’s Joy or grease and flour.
- In a large bowl pour boiling water over cornmeal and stir to combine; let sit for 5 minutes.
- Whisk in eggs, sour cream, sugar, corn oil and lemon zest. Mix well. Sprinkle in flour, baking powder and salt and whisk well to combine.
- Divide batter between the prepared pans and bake for 30- 35 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out to a cooling rack. Cool completely if using immediately, or wrap in two layers of plastic wrap if using later.
- To assemble the cake, place one cake layer down followed by half of the strawberries and one-third of the cream filling. Repeat this layering finishing with a layer of cake and the last third of the cream. Alternately, you could bake 2/3 of the recipe in two 8-inch pans and torte each layer for thinner layers of cake and more strawberries and cream filling. You may need to increase the amount of strawberries and cream filling by one-third if you wish to fill generously.
- Combine the sliced or chopped strawberries with the sugar and allow to macerate for 20-30 minutes.
- In a mixer bowl combine the softenend cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and salt and beat with the balloon whisk on medium-high speed until smooth and well combined.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the whipping cream. When all the cream is added, increase the mixer speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form.