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« Baking Class Schedule, postponed | Main | Who Cares About Restaurant Workers? »

08 December 2006

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"Recipes are meant to be shared."

YES. Yes, yes, yes. Just like food. Even if you invented the recipe, what are you saving it for? What if someone you know can figure out a way to improve it? What can this do but give you more? And then there is more.

This cake looks luscious. I don't think I've ever eaten one like it before. The closest I've seen was something called "kuchen" my mom made from a barely sweet yeast dough and fresh fruit. I don't handle yeast very well in this climate; I just don't have the knack. Meanwhile, one of my true love's favorite things in the whole world is sweet cornbread. Obviously, what with one thing and another, I'm going to have to try this.

Thank you!

Yum. I love the combination of fruit and a not too sweet cake, like a perfect biscuit shortcake, or a thing my mother used to make - we called it "Tar Cake" - it was a blueberry upside down cake with butter and brown sugar in the berries, but a hardly sweet cake. Looking forward to trying this. Thanks.

Shuna,
Is the moisture a problem because the fruit will leech after the temperature goes down or because it falls apart?

You know someone had to be a pain in the ass.

May try this today, headed to the farmer's market now.

Thanks,
F

I'm fighting (what appears to be a losing war) with an icky cold.

NOTHING has sounded good until this cake, particularly with the rhubarb.

A slice of cake, a cup of Rooibos tea, and my medicine dog all on my new sofa watching the first season of House, MD.

Oh, goodie. This sounds just the ticket for the coming rainy weekend. I love the blueberry balloons bursting. Thanks for another recipe and for the words about the origins of our recipes.

Hey Shuna,
Do you need to cook the quince first before you slice it and put it into the cake?

Joe-- raw fruit water content is high. it wants to release its juices, especially when a hot baked good is meeting its molecular walls. heat does this-- draws out moisture.
does this help?

Lori-- yes yes! so so sorry. the fruit always needs to be cooked. check out my post titles Quince for a full description @ how to get fruit to this point.

i understand and agree with you about sharing recipes to an extent. if you (or anyone) came up with something on their own through experimentation and modification over time (i'm not just saying "change 20% of an existing recipe and it's now yours") and it was something so good that you knew it could be a signature dish/product of yours in the future, giving it away could be dangerous.

if the Simpsons taught us anything, look to the Flaming Homer.

this might make me sound egotistical, not wanting to "give away" a recipe, but i don't want to give away a part of myself only to have someone else possibly make a million dollars off of it or make a name for themselves over something i came up with. i can't believe that people, especially chefs, are only out there to share food. the sharks and thieves are out there and i can't deny myself that fact.

we talk about the realness and reality of the life in a restaurant, i think this should be included. i stole and modified a recipe for biscotti once that made it onto our menu and stayed there for a year. hypocrite? you could say that. a human being with an intense desire to succeed? most definitely. and it made me feel great. am i lame? so be it.

Thanks Shuna,
I love your quintessential thoughts on quince. So before I tackle this cake--I boil the quince with the cheesecloth bag of peelings until it turns that rosy color--then I slice the fruit to put in the cake (instead of pureeing it for quince butter)? The leftover liquid can be poured into sterilized jars for jelly--Is that correct?

On Quince--

your assessment is right. but I usually do not pou my "jelly" into sterilized jars, I just keep it refrigerated in a container. also-- if you don't want to cook quince extras in a cheesecloth, you can food mill the quince and it will leave behind the pips etc.

I don't know if you can tell in the photo-- but I have some puree in the middle of the cake as well as the slices on top.

The slices on top are mostly for prettiness. It's the fruit inside the cake that gies the best oer all flavour.

Anyway, have fun and make delicious cake-- that's the most important!

This cake reminds me of a clafouti. Any similarity??

Alto2,

although there are clafoutis similar to cake, a clafouti is most similar to crepe batter, even when it is baked in a round pan. Once I baked a traditional clafouti at a traditional French bistro and a French person sent it back saying it was NOT a clafouti. But they vary, from region to region...

This is my FAVORITE kind of cake. It might be just the ticket for my holiday/bday party coming up next weekend. My present to myself! :) Well, actually, your present to me. Thank you for the recipe and your generosity! xx

In your recipe for Cornmeal and Fresh Fruit Cake-- in comments you mention cooking the quince--does this mean boiling them -- and should you boil all fresh fruit before using it in this recipe or just the quince.

Hello Stan Loeb,

For a more thorough post on quince, check this out:
http://eggbeater.typepad.com/shuna/2006/11/quince.html

But specifically, pre-cook fruit that only needs to be cooked for this cake. Other fresh fruits like berries and stonefruit need not be precooked. Dried fruits, though, could be pre-plumped/reconstituted in water or alcohol or syrup to make for a nicer consistency... although it's up to the maker/eater, of course!

With milk, butter and sour cream I'm not sure this is possible, but... Do you think it's possible to make a dairy free variation? I have recommendations for a good fat substitute, but have no idea how to attempt to substitute sour cream. Does it mostly serve as added moisture? Fat? Sour Creamy goodness?

Hello Jennifer,

This is a challenging question indeed. You could make this recipe with any substitutions you wish, but, yes, the cake will change dramatically if you omit all dairy.

Sour cream does a number of things here:

moisture for the cornmeal to absorb so that it softens while baking to a palatable thing.

acid for the leavening process: it is not a cake that rises much.

moisture for the overall effect of the cake because, as you can see, there's not much butter in the overall cake.

Feel free to experiment, but I would omit one ingredient at a time to see what you get-- this way you know what the absence of each ingredient means.

Have fun, good luck & good eating!

Shuna,
Have you ever tried this cake with citrus?
I know that might sound weird, but I'm just wondering.

Aaron,

I think this could work quite well with marmalade, or candied rind, but not pieces of citrus fruit raw-- too much water. Citrus is hard to work with in baked goods unless it's been cooked somehow first.

Yeah, that's what I figured. Segments are just so pretty that I had a bit of a fantasy.
I made some pretty good marmalade earlier this winter, so I'll give it a try with that.
Thanks.

I made this last night for game night. It goes down real well after a hearty round of Big Boggle, FYI.

I was short on rhubarb, so I did a combo granny smith apples. Call me a blasphemer, but I also cut out half of the butter and used unsweetened applesauce in its stead. I assure you, it was still moist, delicious and buttery.

Devil's food cake is next...

Joanna,

This is fantastic news! Thanks for stopping back! Baking experimenting is wonderful and I'm so glad you did it & with great results.

This cake is great for many fruits & marmalade/jam.

I made this cake today with some pretty red rhubarb and tangelo zest. RAVES from a hungry kitchen staff!

Shuna's Cornmeal Cake has become a staple of sad art history study session and malnourished college students.
I've made this cake 6 times in the past week. You know it's good when college students beg for rhubarb.
For others making it, use great dairy. The best so far has been clover organic sour cream and butter.

Moist, yummy....a perfect vehicle for all that fruit you can't possibly eat just out of hand.
I even had to give away my printed copy of the recipe to one of my dinner guests, right on the spot!
Thanks!

This is in my oven as we speak! It's browning and beautiful and the blueberries are starting to look juicy. I've just given it its half-turn, and can't wait to eat it - probably tomorrow morning for a variation on coffee cake.

When I have made this cake before, I used a tall-sided (professional style) cake pan, which worked fine. But last night I made a version with cherries, and decided to use a prettier layer-cake pan with handles, since I'm taking it on a picnic.

Turns out this was a mistake. The pan wasn't tall enough, so the batter overflowed -- good thing I put it on a sheet pan like you taught me! -- and now the cake is horribly stuck to the pan. Not to mention quite homely! :D (I know it will be loved anyway, but I always am chuffed when the cake looks as good as it will taste)

So, for future readers: You want your pan to be at least 2 inches high, I think. A typical layer-cake pan doesn't seem to be quite enough volume.

what does X6 mean for a non-pro and just under 9oz of dries?

hello Natalie, Just plain old short hand for Times Six, as in you need six times the recipe shown. ~ Shuna

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