Rosemary Corn Cake with Honey & Brown Butter Frosting: Cake So Good it Doesn’t Matter How it Looks. Right?

Image Credit: JobsPapa.
Image Credit: JobsPapa.

Fall blew into Denver over the weekend with cooler temperatures, autumn’s special slant of light drawing shadows across the sidewalks. Already some of the leaves on our trees are changing color. Before I say a bientot to summer, this week I’ll be sharing a couple of summer-to-fall recipes featuring corn. Let’s get started!

Maize, the original corn. Image Credit: Franz Eugen Kohler.
Maize, the original corn. Image Credit: Franz Eugen Kohler.

Cameron and I invited his parents and our Texas-Colorado friends Monet, Ryan, and their new addition, Lucy, to Saturday night dinner to celebrate our house not looking like a disaster zone. Jim and Jeanne made some killer guacamole. Ryan and Monet whipped up a big bowl of Southwestern chopped salad. Cameron constructed our favorite vegetarian enchilada dish. I was in charge of dessert.

I’d been drooling over Adventures in Cooking’s Rosemary Corn Cake since spotting it on Pinterest, and in homage to summer corn harvests, I pulled out my cake ingredients and set to work. I was preoccupied with cleaning and running errands, but the recipe seemed straightforward enough that even a distracted baker could create it without too much error.

You might remember that earlier this year I mastered how not to break cake layers. Well-greased and floured pans with parchment paper bottoms. However, in my haste to put together a cake in a few short hours, I botched the all-purpose flour-to-cake flour conversion and ended up with the inevitable slump in the center of each layer. Not exactly the kind of presentation I hoped to pull off for one of my guests who happens to be a professional cake baker.

Image by Author.
Image by Author.

As Monet reminded me later, cake flour contains less wheat protein. The protein in wheat binds to each other, allowing the cake the rise evenly. Chalk that up to frazzled baking. For future reference, if you’re planning to use cake flour where all-purpose is required, the conversion is 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cake flour per 1 cup of all-purpose flour.

At least I could conceal the cake slump with an extra dollop of cake frosting in the center. Wrong, again. In my effort to reduce the powdered sugar called for in the frosting recipe, I ended up with less frosting, an issue I noticed only after I started frosting te cake. Since the frosting takes some time to prep and cool, I made due with some regular vanilla buttercream frosting at the base of the cake, leaving the brown-butter-speckled frosting for the top and sides.

Despite those significant cake-baking snafus, folks made their way through their slices with contented murmurs and sips of mint tea. Even though I usually can’t eat much cake because of my body’s reaction to sugar, I made a big dent in my slice of this of cake. The olive oil, rosemary, and corn meal were a perfect balance to the flour and sugar in the cake. Just enough crumb and moisture.

The browned butter frosting? AMAZING. Caramel and cream. Even though this cake feels like a late summer afternoon, I’ll likely make it in the wintry months ahead when I’ll need a reminder that warmer days aren’t gone for good.

If you’re looking for an example of the perfect cake, be sure to check out Adventures in Cooking’s gorgeously photographed post here.

vegetarian cake recipe
Image by author.

Rosemary Corn Cake with Honey & Brown Butter Frosting (adapted from an Adventures in Cooking recipe)

Rosemary Corn Cake
3 cups flour (I’d make it with cake flour for a fluffier version, but with the correct amount, of course!)
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 and 1/4 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon vanilla etxract
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped

Browned Butter & Honey Buttercream Frosting
2 cups butter
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons honey

Start by prepping the frosting recipe since it needs time to firm up in the refrigerator.

1. Heat the butter in a large shallow frying pan over medium heat until melted. Swirl the pan around every couple minutes to help it cook evenly. Over a period of several minutes, you’ll notice the foam at the top of the butter start to change from light yellow to a dark tan. Once it reaches the dark tan stage and the butter looks light brown and golden, smell it. It should smell nutty and similar to toffee.

2. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly before pouring it into a small bowl lined with plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator to harden. Then take it out and leave it at room temperature until it’s softened a bit so that you can frost the cake with ease.

While the brown butter is in the fridge, you can start making the cake.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the flour, corn meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until well blended. Set aside.

4. In an electric mixer fit with a paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sugar at medium speed until thick, about 1 minute. Add the olive oil, cider, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the flour mixture to the batter in thirds until completely incorporated, then stir in the rosemary.

5. Evenly distribute the batter between 3 well-greased and lightly-floured 8-inch cake pans. (Don’t forget to fit the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper so that you can prevent a potential cake-breaking disaster when you remove the cakes for their pans to cool.)

6. Place the pans in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. (You may need more time to bake the cakes, but mine were finished by 23 minutes.) Remove the cakes from the pans and place on a wire rack to cool.

While the cakes are cooling, you can finish preparing the buttercream frosting.

7. Beat together the softened browned butter, powdered sugar, and honey until a smooth buttercream forms. It is okay if there’s little burnt brown butter bits in it, because these little guys taste amazing and add a pretty speckled coloring to the frosting. Once blended, set aside. When the cakes are finished cooling, you can layer and frost them with the buttercream and serve.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Monet says:

    So good, sweet friend. Glad we could eat with you guys.

    1. gwynnem says:

      We were happy to be able to share a meal and lots of good conversation with you and Ryan. Brought back good memories from our Texas days. 🙂

  2. Darya says:

    What a nice dinner! And the cake sound amazing! What a combination of flavors. I am sure everybody loved it, and I think it looks quite nice! (I have never made a layered cake in my entire life)

    1. gwynnem says:

      Thank you, Darya! If layer cake making puts you off, you could do a sheet cake with this recipe. The frosting alone is worth making for cupcakes.

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  4. Well it looks and sounds great even with the slump in the middle!

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