Munchie Monday: Cornstarch Cake

The recipe for corn cake found in the handwritten cookbook that belonged to Louisa Macculloch (1785-1863) is the same corn cake recipe found in the 1855 Godey’s Lady’s Book. Godey’s Lady’s Book was the most popular magazine at the time for women so it is not surprising that this may have been the source of the recipe used by the women of the Macculloch-Miller family. Cornstarch was a new ingredient in the kitchen in the mid-1800s although it was not directly packaged and sold to consumers as a baking ingredient until about 1880. By adding cornstarch to cake batter, nineteenth century cooks found that their cakes were more tender but to improve the taste some flavoring was usually used—lemon juice, vanilla, or almond (as recommended below).

Original Recipe, Corn Cake
8 egg whites
¼ pound cornstarch
¼ pound flour
½ pound butter
½ pound sugar
1 teaspoonful cream of tartar
½ teaspoonful baking soda
flavor with bitter almond

Adapted Recipe, Corn”starch” Cake
8 egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup flour
½ cup butter, softened
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease tube pan or bundt cake pan. Cream softened butter and gradually add 1 ¼ cup sugar slowly and beat until light and fluffy. Add almond extract. Sift flour, cornstarch, cream of tartar, and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture in three batches to incorporate. The mixture will be very dry and crumbly. In separate clean bowl, beat the egg whites until peaks form when beater is raised. Fold in beaten egg whites in three batches until incorporated. Pour mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on cooling rack and remove from pan.

To learn more about the history of the popular 1855 Cornstarch cake, visit: 1855: Cornstarch cake – Walbert’s Compendium: or, Journal of Practical Anachronism

A round baked cake with a hole in the middle sits on top of a yellow plate.

Topic: Munchie Monday
Age / Level: High School, College, Life Long Learner

Munchie Monday: Cornstarch Cake Photo Gallery

A round baked cake in a tin. The tin has a center, creating a hole in the cake.