Sticky Fingers Green Thumb
Tara Pearce, Tim Hillier

‘I love sweetcorn. Popcorn, corn on the cob, all types of corn,’ said Rick. ‘Make a sweetcorn cake for me’. And so I did. This cake uses every part of the corn cob. Although the cake is delicious served on its own, the effort involved in making the corn custard cream and popcorn petal praline is worth every bite.


Quantity Ingredient
3 corn cobs, with husks intact
340g see method for ingredients, plus extra for roasting
250ml milk
230g caster (superfine) sugar
6 large egges
150g polenta
300g plain (all-purpose) flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Corn custard cream

Quantity Ingredient
4 egg yolks
50g caster (superfine) sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour
375ml pouring cream
125ml corn juice, (see method)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped
4 tablespoons popped popcorn
1 corn cob, cooked and kernels removed (see method)
250g mascarpone

Popcorn petal praline

Quantity Ingredient
230g caster (superfine) sugar
60ml water
2 tablespoons popped popcorn, crushed
20g edible flower petals


  1. This recipe makes a single-layer cake, but you can replicate the cake pictured by doubling the quantities to make two cakes. Use the corn custard cream between the layers and to ice the top and sides of the cake.
  2. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Lightly grease and line a 22 cm round cake tin with baking paper.
  3. Arrange the corn cobs in their husks in a roasting tin, dotting each with a knob of butter and covering the tin with aluminium foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and peel off the husks to reveal the tender cobs.
  4. Reserving the cobs, return the husks to the tin, increase the oven temperature to 200°C and roast the husks until browned and crispy around the edges (be careful not to burn them). Once cooked, transfer the husks to a saucepan with the milk and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 2–3 minutes. Take off the heat and leave the husks to steep in the milk while you prepare the rest of the cake.
  5. When the corn cobs are cool to the touch, use a sharp knife to cut the kernels (be sure to reserve one of the cobs after cutting off the kernels – you’ll need this for the corn custard). In a bowl, blitz the kernels to a rough purée using a hand-held blender, then pass the purée through a fine-mesh sieve to extract 250 ml of corn juice.
  6. Strain the infused husk milk, reserving 250 ml of the liquid. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl using a hand-held mixer, or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time followed by the polenta, flour, baking powder and salt.
  7. Stir through the husk milk and 125 ml of the corn juice, then pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly in the tin for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  9. To make the corn custard cream, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a bowl until well combined and free of lumps. Set aside. In a saucepan, bring the cream, corn juice, vanilla bean and seeds, popcorn and the reserved corn cob to a gentle boil, then remove from the heat and strain over the egg mixture, discarding the vanilla bean and corn cob. Whisk until smooth, then pour the custard mixture into the saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes or until thickened. Pour into a bowl and leave to chill in the refrigerator, then stir through the mascarpone to combine.
  10. To make the popcorn petal praline, roll out a sheet of baking paper on a heatproof work surface or a large chopping board. Add the sugar and water to a saucepan over a low heat and stir to dissolve, then bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until dark golden in colour, then remove the pan from the heat and pour the praline over your prepared surface. Scatter the popcorn and edible flowers over the surface while it’s still sticky and leave for 10 minutes, or until completely set. Once set, tap the centre of the praline firmly with a sharp knife to shatter it into rough shards.
  11. Serve each cake slice with a dollop of corn custard cream and a generous praline shard.
edible flowers
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