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Strawberries and Corn-Cream Layer Cake with White Chocolate Cap’n Crunch Crumbs

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Serves 8

Yields one 8-inch cake

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 111

New York pastry chef Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar turns the classic strawberry shortcake on its head by pairing strawberries and cream with fresh summer corn in an outrageous cake. It's got layers of  vanilla buttermilk cake, white-chocolate-dipped Cap'n Crunch crumbs, corn-infused cream, strawberry jam, and of course, lots of fresh strawberries. A production this big does require some lead time. It needs to be frozen so the layers can set up properly, and then defrosted completely before serving. Plan on making it at least 4 days ahead.

For the cake
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 2-1/2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 6 Tbs. grapeseed or canola oil
  • 2-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 6 oz. (1-1/2 cups) cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
For the corn crumbs
  • 8 oz. (6 cups) Cap’n Crunch cereal
  • 3/4 oz. (2 Tbs.) cornstarch
  • 4 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
  • 5-1/2 oz. (11 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3-1/2 oz. white chocolate, chopped (1/2 cup)
For the corn cream
  • 3 cups fresh or thawed frozen yellow corn kernels (from about 4 ears of corn)
  • 1 tsp. unflavored gelatin powder
  • 5 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 5 Tbs. sour cream
  • 5 Tbs. heavy cream
  • 3/4 oz. (3 Tbs. plus 2 tsp.) confectioners’ sugar
For assembly
  • 2 cups best-quality strawberry preserves 
  • 1 1/3 cups hulled and quartered ripe strawberries; more for garnish
Tip:
Use homemade strawberry preserves or all-natural, store-bought preserves made with sugar, not high fructose corn syrup.
Make the Cake

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Spray three 8x2-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.

On low speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing for about 20 seconds after each addition. Return the mixer to medium speed and beat until homogenous and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.

Combine the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla in a 1-cup measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the batter is almost white and twice the volume of the original fluffy butter and sugar mixture, 4 to 6 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix just until incorporated, 45 to 60 seconds. Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans and smooth with a spatula.

Bake the cakes until they’re golden-brown, bouncy to the touch, and a tester inserted in the center of each comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes (rotate and swap the pans’ positions after 10 minutes). Cool the cakes in their pans on wire racks.

Make the Corn Crumbs

Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment.

In a food processor, grind the cereal to a powder. Combine the cereal, cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and mix with your hands. Add the melted butter and toss with a rubber spatula until the mixture is evenly moistened. Squeeze the crumbs with your hands to make small clumps no bigger than peas and sprinkle them evenly on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake until the crumbs are a shade darker, about 15 minutes (rotate the sheets after 8 minutes). Cool completely on racks.

While the crumbs cool, melt the white chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl in the microwave, using 15-second high-power intervals. Let the melted chocolate cool until no longer hot to the touch.

Transfer the cooled crumbs to a large bowl and pour the melted white chocolate over them. Toss with your hands until the crumbs are enrobed in the chocolate. Continue tossing with your hands every 5 minutes until the white chocolate hardens and the crumbs are no longer sticky, 30 to 40 minutes total. Break up any clumps that are larger than peas.

Make the Corn Cream

Purée the corn with 1/3 cup water in a blender until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve set over a measuring cup, pressing on the solids, until you have 9 fl. oz. of corn juice.

Put 1 Tbs. water in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let bloom for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the corn juice, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over mediumlow heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and whisk for 2 minutes to cook out the starch in the corn. (The mixture will thicken as it heats.) Remove from the heat, stir in the gelatin, transfer to a heatproof container, and freeze until set to a pudding-like consistency, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

In a large bowl, whip the sour cream, heavy cream, and confectioners’ sugar with a whisk to very soft peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cold corn mixture and slowly whisk until the color is even. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble the Cake

Assemble an 8-inch springform pan. Cut two 12x14-inch rectangular strips of parchment. Fold the two strips lengthwise to get two 6x14-inch strips. Line the inside of the pan with the strips, nestling them into each other with the folded edge on the top.

Release the edges of the cakes with a paring knife. Turn the cakes out onto a clean work surface. Fit one of the cake layers into the springform pan, trimming it to fit snugly if necessary. Use the back of a spoon to spread half the corn cream over the cake base in an even layer. Sprinkle half of the corn crumbs evenly over the corn cream.

In a medium bowl, whisk the strawberry preserves to loosen them. Use the back of a spoon to spread one-third of the strawberry jam as evenly as possible over the corn crumbs. Sprinkle 2/3 cup of the fresh berries evenly across the jam.

Set another cake round (trimmed as needed to fit) on top of the berries and gently press it down. Repeat the process with the remaining corn cream and corn crumbs, half of the remaining preserves, and the remaining 2/3 cup berries.

Fit the remaining cake round atop the fresh berries and spread the remaining preserves over the cake.

Freeze the cake for a minimum of 12 hours to set it.

One to two days before serving, remove the side of the pan and let the cake completely defrost in the refrigerator—this will take about 36 hours. Do not thaw at room temperature.

Just before serving, carefully remove the parchment collar and garnish the top of the cake with freshly hullled and quartered strawberries. Serve cold.

Make Ahead Tips

The assembled cake (minus the fresh strawberry garnish) will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks; if you plan on freezing it this long, wrap it in plastic once it's completely frozen. Be sure to defrost it in the refrigerator as per the instructions above. Do not thaw at room temperature.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 1120; Fat (g): fat g 50; Fat Calories (kcal): 440; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 25; Protein (g): protein g 9; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 12; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 164; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 9; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 700; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 160; Fiber (g): fiber g 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I made this cake for my own birthday - the time was worth it! The Cap'n Crunch is what lured me to the recipe and made this cake a step above. I am not sure it needed the corn-cream from a flavor perspective, but it probably lent itself to making this a very moist cake. I will make it again as well as experiment with a chocolate cake using the Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch (my personal weakness).

Well the cake is very rich and turned out okay but I think it had too many different types of layers. It could do without the capt'n crunch and white chocolate layer as that drowns out the flavors in the rest of the cake especially the strawberries.

Delicious finished product but SO much work!!! I wouldn't make this again unless it was for a special occasion. My co-workers loved it and really got a kick out of the captain crunch! It has such a rich taste that it can end up serving a lot of people if you serve smaller slices.

I cannot wait to make this! Just as soon as I clear some room in my freezer.........

Looking for something special and spectacular to make for my girl friend and family for Mother's Day dinner party, I opened my newly arrived, always reliable, Fine Cooking mag, June/July. The picture of Strawberries and Corn-Cream Layer Cake caught my eye. Recipe looked doable, a bit calorie laden, but would finish an evening well. Well turned out to be SPECTACULAR. I ** where I had to adapt because of short on time and my plan or lack there of worked. The recipe indicates to plan on making 4 days ahead. With 2.5 hrs, I prepped ingredients and made the cake, which was easy enough following recipe exactly. Then made the Corn Cream, since it needs to set in the freezer for at least an hour. I had frozen 'yellow' corn (thawed) to puree then extract the corn juice. The Corn Cream I created was yellow in comparison to the picture in Fine Cooking which shows a white cream between layers. **Yellow or white corn works, but maybe next time I'll use white corn to give an even more dramatic appearance. Then I made the Corn Crumbs...Easy and after baking crumbs in the oven, I needed to cut some of the time. **I didn't toss crumbs for 30 to 40 minutes, just enough to coat crumbs with chocolate. I built the layers and topped it with whole strawberries on the jam. **It worked fine to assemble the cake without the spring form pan. **Immediately put it in the refrigerator to set, did not have time to freeze. Removed from refrigerator after dinner about 2 hours later to serve six adults, and 4 young boys who all thought it was one of the best they'd ever tasted. I'll repeat this one, put it in my recipe keeper and blog it. And I'll keep the suggested 1120 calories in each serving to myself.

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