Labor Day weekend is upon us, a gracious three-day weekend that’s always welcome, but to most people means little more than just that- A day off from work or school. Heck, I couldn’t tell you its true significance, but I can tell you what it means to me at least: Summer’s last hurrah. One last chance to throw that barbecue, picnic, or party that you never made the time for earlier. One more opportunity to rejoice in the bounty of the season, to celebrate those late tomatoes that are just now finally hitting their peak of perfection. Above all else though, for me, Labor Day means corn. Juicy, sweet as sugar, fresh summer corn right off the cob needs only a pinch of salt to reach unparalleled gastronomic heights. No labor day is complete without a least two or three ears (per person, please!) on hand.
It feels like a crime to do much more than just eat such flawless corn, but I simply couldn’t help exploring other possibilities after stumbling across a particularly sweet batch. Simplicity was key here, so it was practically destined to become something so simple, so homey, and so quintessentially American as a humble pound cake.
It’s absolutely crucial to use the best corn you can possibly get to make this tender cake shine. Don’t wait around before busting out the baking pan and starting your oven, too- The sweetness begins to decrease mere hours after the ears have been plucked from the fields, and that ephemeral flavor will be irretrievably lost.
Though subtle in flavor, the delicate essence of corn is definitely present if you’re looking for it, and if not, you’ve got one stellar basic pound cake anyway. The perfect canvas for toppings like ice cream, vegan whipped cream, jams, ganache, icing, and pretty much anything else sweet, I dare say it’s quite possibly the best pound cake I’ve ever made, bar none. And I’m usually not one for such superlatives, either.
Sweet Corn Pound Cake
1 1/2 Cups Sweet Corn Kernels (From About 3 Ears)
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Margarine, at Room Temperature
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Packed
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease and flour an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
First, pop your corn kernels into either a food processor or blender, and very thoroughly puree them, until absolutely silky smooth. This isn’t some rustic corn bread; You don’t want any big chunks left over. This could take up to 5 minutes, depending on your machine.
Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt, mixing well so that all of the ingredients are equally distributed. Set aside.
In you stand mixer, install the paddle attachment, and beat the margarine briefly to soften it. Add in both sugars, and cream thoroughly, until homogeneous. Bring the mixer to a halt before adding half of the dry mixture, and start it again on low speed. Mix until you get fine crumbs, and then pour in all of the corn puree, along with the vanilla and apple cider vinegar. Mix again so that the batter smooths out, and then incorporate the final half of the dry goods. Stir just enough to achieve a smooth mixture, and transfer the batter into your prepared pan.
Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. The top of the cake may develop a fissure right down the center, but don’t worry- I feel that this crack only adds to it’s homespun charm.