Vanilla Cornmeal Cake with Roasted Strawberries | First Mess Cookbook GIVEAWAY

vanilla cornmeal cake - first mess cookbook | apt 2b baking co
vanilla cornmeal cake - first mess cookbook | apt 2b baking co
vanilla cornmeal cake - first mess cookbook | apt 2b baking co

I have been trying to Kondo-punt (thank you Molly for this phrase) a lot of cookbooks out of my life recently due to the extremely saggy shelves they are currently occupying. BUT, I have been patiently waiting for this book - The First Mess Cookbook by Laura Wright - since I had the chance to test a couple of recipes from it last year. After testing those recipes I knew that the book would be amazing, and it truly is. Every page is totally packed with inviting recipes and photography that makes me want to dive right into the page. Not that I expected anything less from Laura. 

There is a lot of noise online, but  Laura's voice always breaks through. Hers is one of the blogs that I have read and enjoyed most consistently in my many years of blogging, and her table is the one that I most often find myself wishing I had a seat. I'm not vegan by any stretch, but Laura's recipes are always SO approachable and I always appreciate her no-nonsense/no judgement approach to plant-based eating and cooking which she has perfectly translated to this book.

I love a cornmeal cake, and this one sweetened with maple syrup and topped with roasted strawberries was so simple to make and so satisfying. The recipe calls for it to be made in a round cake plan, but I was feeling the slices and baked it in a 4x10-inch loaf pan instead. Then, I ate slices of cake with my coffee every morning until it was gone.


GIVEAWAY: I am so excited to give one away a copy of this stunning book to one of you lucky folks! Just leave a comment on this post with what fruit or vegetable you are most looking forward to this Spring. I"ll pick a winner at random in a week and the book will ship after it's officially published on March 7. Open to US and Canada only, sorry international folks!

UPDATE: The winner has been notified. Check your email, it might be you! If it isn't, you should buy the book anyway ;)


A Few Announcements

Just two spots left for my workshop with Olaiya Land in Paris this Spring. Check out the details HERE

AND

OMG Sweeter off the Vine was nominated for an IACP Cookbook Award, and it's up against Mark Bittman and America's Test Kitchen so I have zero chance of winning (hello, underdog!), but damn is it exciting. This is the big time guys, and I am so surprised and thrilled to be nominated! 

You guys also nominated it as a Community Pick in Food52's Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks, thank you! It's such an honor, and much less nerve-wracking than being in the actual bracket! 

Now let's have some cake!


Vanilla Corn Cake with Roasted Strawberries

Reprinted from The First Mess Cookbook by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright 2017, Laura Wright.

Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) cake

¾ cup (175 mL) full-fat coconut milk

1 teaspoon (5 mL) fresh lemon juice

1 cup (250 mL) cornmeal (not coarse)

1 cup (250 mL) whole spelt flour

1 teaspoon (5 mL) lemon zest

1 tablespoon (15 mL) aluminum-free baking powder

¼ teaspoon (1 mL) baking soda

1 teaspoon (5 mL) fine sea salt

½ teaspoon (2 mL) ground turmeric (optional)

½ cup + 2 tablespoons (125 mL + 30 mL) pure maple syrup

½ cup (125 mL) sunflower oil, plus extra to grease pan

1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla bean paste OR pure vanilla extract

roughly 1 quart (4 cups/1 L) whole strawberries (smaller berries are preferable)

Whipped Coconut Cream for serving (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease a 9-inch (23 cm) round cake pan with sunflower oil. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pan and press it in. Lightly grease the parchment, and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut milk and lemon juice. Let this mixture sit for 5 minutes so that the milk can curdle slightly.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, spelt flour, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and turmeric, if using.

4. Make a well in the center of the cornmeal mixture. Add the maple syrup, sunflower oil, vanilla, and coconut milk mixture. With a spatula, gently mix until you have a smooth and unified batter. Avoid overmixing.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and slide the pan into the oven. Bake the cake for 25 to 28 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely. Raise the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C).

6. Cut the strawberries into halves or quarters (depending on size), and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and roast the strawberries until they become juicy and jammy, about 20 minutes.

7. Serve slices of the corn cake with a few roasted strawberries and some Whipped Coconut Cream (page 271) if you like.

vanilla cornmeal cake - first mess cookbook | apt 2b baking co

Vegan Strawberry Vanilla Custard Tart

vegan strawberry vanilla custard tart | apt 2b baking co
vegan strawberry vanilla custard tart | apt 2b baking co
vegan strawberry custard tart | apt 2b baking co
vegan strawberry vanilla custard tart | apt 2b baking co
vegan strawberry vanilla custard tart | apt 2b baking co

Every year I cross my fingers and hope there are local strawberries for my birthday, which usually falls on Memorial Day weekend. So when the strawberries showed up at the Greenmarket right on time this year, I wanted to make something super special. I turned to a recipe that I have had dog-eared for over a year - Amy Chaplin's Strawberry Vanilla  Custard Tart from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen.

I haven't made a ton of creamy vegan tarts like this one, and it was a super fun little project that made good use of the first gorgeous local berries. The oat, barley, and spelt crust comes together quickly in a food processor and is patted in the pan, then while the crust cools, the filling is briefly cooked on the stovetop before being chilled and topped with a big 'ol pile of  fresh strawberries - it's a perfect Springy treat. In the photo from the book, Amy's tart is covered with the tiniest  tristar strawberries. Tristars are my absolute favorite too, but they don't show up at the market until later in the summer here in NY. This doesn't really need to be said, but use the tastiest, cutest berries you can find here.


EVENT ALERT! I'll be at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday, June 18th with the folks from Food Book Fair, signing copies of Sweeter off the Vine and handing out treat samples. Come say hi!


Vegan Strawberry Vanilla Custard Tart

from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin

makes one 8 or 9-inch tart

This tart was originally made with a glaze that the strawberries are tossed in before arranging them on the tart, but I skipped it in favor of sliced strawberries tossed with the tiniest bit of honey. Also, Amy suggests using a high speed blender to mix the filling, but I used my food processor which worked fine. I just made sure to soak the nuts the full 6 hours and gave them a good long mix to ensure the mixture was as smooth as possible. I also used honey from my friends at Old Blue Raw Honey instead of the maple and brown rice syrups the recipe originally called for, which I know isn't strictly vegan so choose your own adventure there.

Crust

3/4 cup rolled oats

3 tablespoons barley flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup spelt flour

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon melted coconut oil

3 tablespoons maple syrup (I used honey)

Filling

3/4 cup raw macadamia nuts, soaked 2-6 hours in 2 cups water

1 vanilla bean, split

1/4 cup brown rice syrup (I used 3 tablespoons honey)

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (I used 2 tablespoons honey)

2 teaspoons agar flakes

pinch sea salt

2 teaspoons arrowroot powder

Topping

2 pints strawberries, washed, sliced, and lightly sweetened

Make the Crust

Preheat oven to 350ºF and position a rack in the center of the oven. Line the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and lightly oil the sides.

Add the oats, barley flour, baking powder and salt to the bowl of a food processor; blend until the oats are ground. Mix the coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla together. Pulse in the spelt flour and salt, then with the processor running, drizzle in the coconut oil mixture and mix until the flour is moistened.

Press the crust onto the bottom and sides of the prepared pan, about 1 1/4-inches up the sides.

Bake the crust for 16-18 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside while you make the filling.

Make the Filling

Drain macadamias and place in a blender along with the 2 cups water. Blend on high speed for 2 minutes.

Add the macadamia milk to a medium saucepan along with the vanilla bean seeds, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, agar, and salt. Whisk until the mixture comes to a simmer. Then loosely cover and simmer for 15 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes or so.

In a small bowl combine the arrowroot with 2 teaspoons of water then whisk it into the simmering custard. Remove the mixture from the heat then let it cool for 10 minutes. Whisk to smooth, then pour into the prepared crust. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes on the counter (until it stops steaming), then chill until firm, about 2 hours.

Just before serving unmold the tart then top it with a pile of lightly sweetened, sliced strawberries. Enjoy immediately. 

vegan strawberry vanilla custard tart | apt 2b baking co