Side Dishes

Blissful Corn Torte

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As I’ve mentioned, Mexican food is one area where I’ve really tried to up my game since we moved to Brussels last year. Quality Mexican is usually one of the more difficult cuisines to find in restaurants in Europe, at least in my experience, but is definitely something I don’t want to go more than a few weeks without, let alone three-plus years!

In addition to making my own tortillas, pico de gallo, and trying out several new Mexican mains, I’ve also been looking for new side dishes to expand beyond guacamole and refried beans. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against refried beans, and you can never have too much guacamole! It’s just fun to have some additional options.

Enter this corn torte. Cook and author Pati Jinich describes it as something between corn souffle and corn bread. She is right that it’s too good to be only a side dish. It’s equally delicious with fresh berries for dessert, as pictured here, or for breakfast! I made it for dinner guests recently, and thought the sweetness provided a fantastic contrast to our carnitas and spicy black beans. I can’t wait to make it again and serve it topped with Creamy Poblano Rajas, as Pati recommends, because that sounds incredible!

One note on cooking time: don’t hesitate to let the torte bake a little longer than the recommended 40-45 minutes. The first time I made this, I took it out right at 45 minutes. It seemed underdone, but I overrode my own instincts and hoped it would set as it cooled. No such luck, and I had a mess on my hands! This could just be my oven (which is small, crummy, and generally unreliable) so I hesitate to recommend changing the baking time, per se. I would recommend checking the torte frequently after the 45-minute mark, being sure the top is browned, and using a cake tester or toothpick to be sure it is not wet in the middle before removing it from the oven. Above all, trust your gut!

Now go use some of the beautiful summer corn and make this right away!

Blissful Corn Torte
Yields one 9×13″ pan, about 12 servings

1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus a bit for the baking dish
3/4 cup sugar
8 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
3/4 cup rice flour*
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 cups corn kernels, fresh or thawed frozen
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp. kosher or coarse sea salt
powdered sugar for sprinkling

*Rice flour, made from finely milled raw rice, can be found at health food stores and large supermarkets. I found it at BioPlanet, a well stocked organic grocer in Brussels.

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9×13″ baking dish.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 2 sticks of butter on high speed until creamy. Add the sugar and continue to beat on high speed until thoroughly mixed and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and add the egg yolks one by one, beating until they are well incorporated.

In a small bowl, combine the rice flour and baking powder. Add a small amount of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, followed by a small amount of the cream, continuing to alternate until all are incorporated and the mixture is well combined.

In a food processor, pulse the corn kernels with the milk until roughly pureed. Add this to the butter mixture and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Pour the butter-corn mixture into a large bowl and clean the bowl of the stand mixer.

Fit the stand mixer with the whisk attachment and beat the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. Fold about one-fifth of the beaten egg whites into the butter-corn mixture until well blended. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites, taking care not to deflate them. It’s OK if the batter looks streaky.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the torte is springy to the touch, lightly browned, and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean. Cool slightly.

The torte can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold. Cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cover and store any leftovers (lucky you!) in the fridge.

Source: Pati’s Mexican Table by Pati Jinich

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