Sunday, 7 April 2013

Fruit & Syrup Cornmeal Cake

It's that time of the year again, when everything and everyone is just starting to stir from a long winter's nap, and I am recovering from another traumatizing set of exams. As always, a few eager early crops of cherry tomatoes and strawberries from some warmer place spring up to the front shelves of supermarkets. I know it isn't peak season yet, so they aren't very flavourful, but I couldn't resist getting a small box of each. Anyhow, they'll do fine in these cakes because I concentrate their flavours by heating and reducing some of their water content in a pan before adding them into the batter. To complement the fruits, there are also streaks of silky Chinese black vinegar swirling through these cakes. The cornmeal and dark brown sugar gives this cake a heartiness. There's a bit of lingering winter and upcoming spring in this cake to reflect the current weather.

The Recipe:
Sift together dry ingredients: 
  • 1 cup whole wheat cake/pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow coarse-grind cornmeal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Wet ingredients: 
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup whole strawberries
  • 1 cup black vinegar (AKA Chinese Chinkiang vinegar, available at Asian grocery stores)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek, any fat content is OK, as long as there is no gelatin or thickening starches)
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup (or half a 250 g block) light plain cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
Dice tomatoes and strawberries and heat in a dry, non-stick pan until the fruit pieces look somewhat shrunken and shrivelled. Allow fruit to cool on a plate. Reduce vinegar in the same pan until it is the consistency of runny honey in the pan, or about a third to a quarter of the volume is left. Remove to a bowl to allow it to cool. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, yogurt, and sugar until well mixed. Add eggs and continue to beat until mixture is smooth. Add sifted dry ingredients in three batches, stirring or blending partially between each batch. Gently stir in fruits until they are evenly distributed. Add reduced vinegar and stir a few times so that streaks of black from the vinegar are visible in the batter. 

Pour into non-stick cake tin of your choice (recipe fits well into a 12-inch round tin, or two 8-inch round tins, or six 4-inch mini-cake tins). Bake at 325°F or ~165°C until toothpick comes out clean. This takes about 25 minutes for the mini tins and 35 minutes for larger tins. Remove cakes from tins whenever they've cooled enough for you to handle them. Slice and enjoy!

Note: Feel free to substitute with any other fruit that taste good cooked. You can also use balsamic vinegar instead of black vinegar – just make sure to use the cheap kind. If you like your cake sweeter and think your fruits match the flavour, you can even drizzle in honey or thick molasses instead of vinegar. 


Reducing vinegar. It's letting off a intensely sharp, but pleasant smell right now.

A rather thick cake batter with streaks of vinegar visible.

Hot cakes, just out of the oven. A yummy crispy top!

Time to have a slice!

No comments:

Post a Comment