blackberry cornmeal cake.

as much as i love vacations, i always look forward to coming home.

settling back into my daily routine after a sojourn away is like easing comfortably into a perfectly broken in armchair.

i had an unbelievable time at IFBC in New Orleans this past weekend, and i’m still so thrilled and shocked that i was lucky enough to win a conference pass to attend. i met so many wonderful people, and loved spending quality time with friends, old and new.

i learned. i connected. i ate. oh, how i ate.

the food in New Orleans took my breath away. i may have actually audibly gasped at a few meals, which was probably a little awkward for other diners. whoops.

after five days of dining in amazing restaurants, i’ve been itching to get back into the kitchen.

if i go too long without cooking or baking something, i get antsy; eager to chop and saute and knead and frost and feed the people that i love. that’s the thing about food, and cooking in general for me: it’s requisite. being in the kitchen is a compulsion, a need, an impulse that can’t be ignored. it’s essential for my survival.

what could be more comforting, more welcoming than an anytime cake, baked and served in a cast iron skillet?

this blackberry cornmeal cake is the epitome of simplicity, and it’s a lovely way to savor the last of the late-summer berries. the cake is infused with nutty brown butter and vanilla yogurt, which provides incredible moisture and a winsome twang. the top of the cake is crisp and crackled, with shallow craters from sunken blackberries.

and speaking of blackberries, the ones laced throughout this cake are sumptuous and sweet. the heat of the oven causes the berries to rupture and burst; pooling and pudding and melting into syrupy pockets of blackberry jam.

the cornmeal in this cake imparts heft, body and a subtle crunch that’s surprising and exquisite.

topped with a healthy dollop of freshly whipped cream and a smattering of tart, zingy lemon zest, a slice of this blackberry cornmeal cake is without equal. it tastes as good as coming home feels.

blackberry cornmeal cake

Yield: one 9" round cake

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35-45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup medium-ground yellow cornmeal
1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup reserved for topping
1/2 plus 1 tablespoon cup vanilla yogurt
2 large eggs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, browned, plus 1 tablespoon reserved for skillet
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
1 container fresh blackberries (5.6 ounces)


preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

for the brown butter

place butter in a small saucepan and place over medium heat.

allow the butter to melt, and then begin stirring the pan slowly but constantly.

the butter will begin to foam up and bubble, and you will notice it change color slightly from yellow to very light brown. this may take about 3 minutes.

as soon as the butter smells nutty, turn off the heat and remove it from the stove. allow it to cool slightly while you prepare the cake.

for the blackberry cornmeal cake

in a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

whisk in the cornmeal and granulated sugar to combine, and set aside.

in a small bowl, whisk together the vanilla yogurt, eggs, cooled melted brown butter, vanilla bean paste, lemon zest and lemon juice. whisk until uniform and combined, about 30 seconds.

place the reserved tablespoon of brown butter in the cast iron skillet and set in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes.

pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and whisk until just combined.

remove the cast iron skillet from the oven (use an oven mitt!), and pour the batter into the hot skillet. some of the melted brown butter may creep up to the top of the batter, but that's okay!

scatter the blackberries over the top of the cake. they don't have to be perfect, just try to distribute them as evenly as you can!

sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar over the top of the cake. again, try to do it as evenly as possible.

place the hot skillet back in the oven, and bake the cake at 375 degrees F for 35-45 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and crackled, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for about 20-30 minutes before serving.

you can serve this cake in the cast iron skillet, simply cut wedges of cake and serve with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and a sprinkle of lemon zest on top.

the cake will keep, stored in the fridge with plastic wrap over the top for up to two days.

a food + words original

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7 Responses to “blackberry cornmeal cake.”

  1. #
    Rachel — August 29, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    I get restless when I go too long without cooking too. That busyness in the kitchen really is comforting and distracting!
    Your cake is beautiful! I haven’t had any blackberries yet thsi summer but I’ve seen them in the farmers markets. This gives me an excuse to buy some!

  2. #
    Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups — August 30, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Welcome home! This looks delicious. Slicing it would be in vain because I’m pretty sure I could clear the whole skillet…

  3. #
    brandi — August 30, 2011 at 9:51 am

    welcome back! sounds like it was a blast :)

    i love just about anything made in a cast iron pan.

  4. #
    Deb — August 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    What a delightful cake, perfect for the last weeks of summer! The lovely berries are enveloped in the cake dough, capturing all the berry flavor, including the sweet juice, fabulous!

  5. #
    Katie from Katie's Cucina — August 31, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    mmmm yum! I recently made a cake with cornmeal in it as well… super tasty! Love your wood background.. ;)

  6. #
    Alli — September 6, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Oh my goodness your cornmeal cake sounds good! I have so many blackberries from this summer, and this would be a great way to use them. Thank you for the idea!


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