With the end of corn season drawing to a close, you may be thinking what else could you make with freshly picked maize? Sweet corn is the most common variety of maize eaten directly off the cob. The ear is picked while the endosperm is in the “milk stage” so that the kernels are still tender. How about Mexican Sweet Corn Cake?
For starters, it is only slightly sweet, moist and nothing like cornbread, which is denser and cornier. The texture is softer and more velvety than cake. A hint of corn flavor, but less than you expect and a suggestion of sweetness without being sweet. Interested now?
According to Milk Street where we found this recipe, this simple baked treat is ubiquitous in Mexican food markets, street stalls and restaurants. Its texture lands somewhere between cake and cornbread while hinting at custard. In Mexico City, it’s commonly served for breakfast, but finished with a dusting of powdered sugar, it also makes a casual, homey dessert.
Fresh Mexican corn used for making this type of cake is starchier and drier than the fresh corn available in the U.S., so a bit of cornmeal is added here. If you have more than 250 grams (1½ cups) corn after cutting the kernels from the ears, it’s best to save the extra for another use rather than use it in this recipe; the additional moisture may make the cake too wet. Yellow corn yields a cake with a warm golden hue, but white corn also works.
Don’t use frozen corn kernels—it results in a dense, gummy texture. Made with fresh corn, the cake’s crumb is much lighter and softer. After adding the flour mixture to the corn puree, don’t whisk vigorously. Gentle mixing, just until no pockets of flour remain, will minimize gluten development so the cake bakes up tender.
Mexican Sweet Corn Cake
- 3 medium ears fresh corn, preferably yellow, husked
- ¼ cup fine yellow cornmeal
- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- ¼ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
- ½ cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
- Powdered sugar, to serve
- Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position.
- Mist a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Using a chef’s knife, cut the kernels from the ears of corn. Measure 1½ cups kernels and add to a blender; if you have extra corn, reserve it for another use. To the blender, add the cornmeal, condensed milk and yogurt, then puree until smooth, 15 to 20 seconds, scraping down the blender as needed. Let stand for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
- To the blender, add the whole eggs and yolks, and the oil; blend on low until smooth, 5 to 10 seconds.
- Pour the puree into a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and whisk just until evenly moistened and no lumps of flour remain.
- Transfer to the prepared cake pan and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
- Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the cake, then invert directly onto the rack and lift off the pan. Re-invert the cake onto a serving platter and cool completely, about 1 hour.
- Serve dusted with powdered sugar.
Recipe from Milk Street
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