March 18, 2010

On the cooling rack: Mexican sweet corn cake

You know when you go to a chain-y sit-down Mexican restaurant (think El Torito or Chevy's) and they bring you your entree with your sizzling fajitas or steaming tamales or chimichangas (my fave) and all the fixin's are on the side, like the guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, and shredded lettuce? I love that. But more than that, we love that itty bitty scoop of sweet yellow corn goodness that's tucked in alongside the beans and rice that's good enough to eat for dessert. Ted and I, after several conversations, have agreed that that little scoop is hands down the best part of the meal, and the only thing wrong with it is that it's too small a scoop.

We had an activity with all the youth in three wards to expand their cultural appreciation, and 60 people were asked to bring a dish from either a country they were from or somewhere they visited or served as a missionary, or just plain ol' had a fascination with. For weeks I hemmed and hawed over which country to do since I've only been to three and they were popular and I figured they'd be taken. Come to find out, Mexico wasn't taken. So I made it my duty to find and, if necessary, tweak a recipe for that sweet corn blessing for everyone to try.

Mexican Sweet Corn Cake

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup masa harina (Mexican corn flour found in baking aisle or Mexican aisle. My California friends should have NO problem finding this stuff - also sold under brand name "Maseca")
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl beat butter until it is creamy. Add the masa harina and water and beat until well mixed.

Using a food processor, pulse thawed corn a few times, but leave chunky. Stir into the butter mixture.

Add cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder and cream last to corn flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour batter into an ungreased 8x8 inch baking pan. Smooth batter and cover with aluminum foil. Make a water bath* by placing smaller pan into a 9x13 pan. Slowly add water into 9x13 pan with small pitcher or spouted cup until water reaches about halfway up. (If you add too much, just take some out with a turkey baster)

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Top should barely spring back to the touch and be ever so slightly crisp around the edges. Leave foil on, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Use an ice cream scoop to serve onto plates or a regular spoon to eat it from the pan (Ted's method).

*Don't skip the water bath! The steam ensures a very moist cake (since this is NOT a cornbread) and prevents overbrowning.

Here are a few of the other entries from the International Food Night. This English Trifle was the bomb. Whoever made it didn't bother with regular old chocolate cake. They were awesome brownies, and it was probably the first dish to be completely gone. ("What?! instead of clotted cream on under-seasoned beans?", you say. I know. I was as shocked as you are.)

France represented with a Quiche Lorraine and brie on baguette. Simple. Yummy.

And a beautiful and crispy Norwegian "wreath cake" from Norwegia. Tasted like crisp, flavorful ladyfingers.

Overall, a smashing success. Encourage your uncultured church teens to do the same.


Jean said...

Mmmmmmm. MMMM!!! What a fabulous, culturally-aware shindig!! I agree, that sweet corn cake at El Torito is beyond fabulous. I wish I could just order a whole plate of that, with a tamale on the side. (Can ya tell that I love corn?) FYI, I think I saw a mix for that at Vons one time. I should see if it's still there...

baringapark said...

Enjoying the blog :) Norwegia tee hee hee ... Norway? lmfao

The Cooling Rack

Baked goods are only half the story...