Saturday, June 11, 2011

Blueberry-Cornmeal Cakes


I came across some handsome Jersey farm blueberries at my local farmers’ market yesterday, and they didn’t disappoint. Small and sweet-tart, they were several cuts above the generic supermarket


 breed. At first I thought I’d use them in a batch of blueberry muffins, but then remembered I had been meaning to try a recipe from one of my favorite dessert books, The Last Course, by Claudia


Fleming (Random House, 2001). According to Claudia, who is a top-notch pastry chef, her Blueberry-Cornmeal Cakes “have a delicious sugary crust like a muffin top, but unlike muffins, the


crumb is moist, buttery and very tender. The blueberries are studded throughout the batter, and while they bake, they pop, becoming jammy and concentrated.” How could I resist such a


description? The recipe is similar to the one for classic financiers – those small, buttery French cakes – but, with the addition of some yellow cornmeal, these have a slightly crunchy texture. Serve them


with tea, as Claudia suggests, or pair them with ice cream or fresh fruit for dessert. One thing: her recipe claims to yield 12 muffin-size cakes, but it makes more like 22.



Blueberry-Cornmeal Cakes

From The Last Course by Claudia Fleming (Random House, 2001)

Makes 22 muffin-size cakes or 48 2-inch miniature tartlets (the original recipe claims it yields 12 muffin-size cakes, but this is clearly wrong!)

1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter
2 2/3 cups (306 g) confectioners’ sugar
1 cup (89 g) almond flour
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (64 g) cake flour
¼ cup coarse yellow cornmeal
8 large egg whites
Grated zest of ½ orange
1 cup (138 g) blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to let the butter cook until some of the white milk solids fall to the bottom of the skillet and turn a rich hazelnut brown. Strain the browned butter through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl and discard the solids.
2. Sift together the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour, cake flour and cornmeal. Place the sifted ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. On the lowest speed, add the egg whites and zest; mix until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium-low and stir in the browned butter. Increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the blueberries. (The batter can be made and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead.)
3. Butter and flour two muffins tins or 2-inch mini tartlet pans. Spoon the batter into the pans and bake for 18 to 20 minutes (14-16 for the mini tartlet pans), or until the cakes are golden brown around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. 

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