These cornbread cupcakes have that classic cornbread taste but are more cake-like due to cake flour and the creaming method! Top them off with maple buttercream frosting and these are some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had!
I am a huge fan of cornbread. My love for cornbread began at Famous Dave’s. They serve cornbread muffins with their dinners and they come out hot and dense, with a cracked top and drizzled with a honey glaze. It’s a “if you give a mouse a cookie” situation, except it’s “if you give Brita a Famous Dave’s cornbread muffin.” You know how that story ends. (I had to include a picture.)
My question was: could I pull off cornbread cake? The funny thing is, sometimes vanilla cake can accidentally taste like cornbread. And here I was, purposely pursuing a cornbread cupcake. But it sounded amazing! Realistically, I knew that even with some alterations, this cake would still have a bit of a cornbread texture because of the corn flour. But I didn’t care. I wanted cornbread cake and I would have it.
How could I go about making a cake-like cornbread muffin? I did a couple of things. Firstly, a typical cornbread muffin recipe uses all-purpose flour. All-purpose flour is great in cookies, but I prefer to use cake flour in cakes. Why? Cake flour has a lower protein content and thus yields a denser, but softer, cake. I subbed out all-purpose flour for cake flour so that I would have a more cake-y cornbread muffin which could pass off as a cupcake if it had a nice thick stack of frosting.
Second, cornbread muffins are made with the muffin mixing method. The muffin mixing method goes as follows: you mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, mix the wet ingredients in another and then combine them and mix just until incorporated. The muffin mixing method yields a muffin that has a large crumb and it crumbles when you eat it. However, because I wanted to make a cake-like cornbread, I used the classic creaming method. You cream the butter and the sugars together, then add the eggs and finally add the dry ingredients and alternate with the milk. This yields a fluffier cake with lots of rise because you’re whipping air into the butter. For best results, cream the butter and sugar together for five minutes and then add the liquid sugar and continue creaming for an additional two to three minutes.
The final step was frosting. A cake needs frosting. I decided to make a maple buttercream frosting and then I put crunched up cornflakes into the frosting. (I know, I know, two recipes involving cornflakes in a row, but what can you do when you have a whole box sitting around?!) The addition of frosting would solidify the cake status.
The results? Absolutely splendid. The cupcake was cakey, due to the creaming method and the cake flour, and without frosting this cornbread cupcake was delicious. I simply could not stop eating it. But then I added a thick layer of frosting and I went to baked good heaven. The frosting took it over the top. It was oh so sweet and delicious with a hint of maple and the crunch of cornflakes. It is definitely the cake version of a cornbread muffin. Like I said, this cake won’t fool you into thinking it’s only made with cake flour. You can taste the texture of the cornmeal, but that’s okay. That’s what I wanted.
As I ate one of the frosted cupcakes, I thought about how wonderful these would be as a layer cake. I would say one hundred percent better because I love layer cakes.
A few tips for a successful cake making excursion:
- Before you being baking, set out the butter, eggs and buttermilk twenty to forty five minutes before you start baking. When the ingredients are all closer to the same temperature, they incorporate better.
- If you forget to set the eggs out, fill a bowl with warm water and let the eggs sit in the water for five or so minutes.
- If you forget to set out the butter, do not put it in the microwave!!!! This destroys the butter and it won’t cream and get fluffy like it’s supposed to. Just set it out and wait patiently.
- Cream the butter and granulated sugar first for at least five minutes before you add the liquid sugar. This ensures that you add lots of air bubbles to make a light, fluffy cornbread cake.
- If you don’t have cake flour, never fear! Simply decrease the amount of 1 1/4 cups cake flour to a 1 cup of all-purpose flour. That being said, I highly recommend the cake flour, but it’s certainly not a necessity!
Go make these! It would be a fantastic birthday cake for someone you know who loves their cornbread.
- For the cake:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 4 Tablespoons of butter (1/2 stick), softened
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey or Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 3/4 cup yellow corn flour
- 1 1/4 cup cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- For the frosting:
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup cornflakes, crunched up (optional)
- For the cake:
- Set out the butter, eggs and buttermilk for twenty minutes to forty-five minutes before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Or, if you’re going to make a layer cake, spray Pam into two 9-inch round pans and then sugar them with about two Tablespoons of sugar per pan. Make you thoroughly cover the pan with sugar.
- In a bowl, cream together the butter and granulated sugar (DO NOT ADD THE MAPLE SYRUP YET) for a minimum of five minutes. Then add the maple syrup. Cream for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add each egg individually. Mix until combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the corn flour, cake flour, baking soda and salt.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and alternate with the buttermilk. Start and end with the flour.
- Fill the cupcake liners with about a 1/4 cup of batter. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
- For the frosting:
- Cream the butter for a minute or until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar. Add the maple syrup. Continue adding powdered sugar until the frosting is to a desired thickness. Finally, add the cornflakes.