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.
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