Cherry Cornmeal Cake


You know that feeling when you have shelves of cookbooks, piles of food mags, and oodles of bookmarks to blogs, and you remember a recipe and then, for the life of you, you cannot find it, no matter how many times you scroll through your masses of cookbooks, mags, and bookmarks? Welcome to the Blueberry Cornmeal Cake from Sheila Lukins’ magnificent USA Cookbook. It’s a great cake, but it has this way of running for the hills when you explicitly go to look for it. Every few summers, my mom and I have stumbled on the recipe and made it for someone’s birthday or a dinner party. But in intervening summers, when we craved the cake, we were simply at a loss. We’d browse our way through our collection, at times sure we were getting closer to the source, but alas, that cake’s formula would stay hidden.

This must have been an “on” summer: I uncovered the recipe early as I was browsing through, getting ideas for ice cream. I ripped off a piece of paper, physically bookmarked the recipe, and just a few days later I turned to it easily, ready to get baking.

This time around, though, I kept on pushing my luck. Instead of blueberries, I substituted in the cherries sitting prettily on my counter. Though I don’t own a cherry pitter, I found that with some company by my side, the pitting happened easily enough. The cake, buttery and crunchy with cornmeal, was a winner. Now that I know where it is, I can’t wait to make it often, varying the fruits as they come into and out of season.

Oh, and: there was someone else in my household who was rather thrilled that I’d found the recipe. Finn, my sister’s puppy, could not get enough of its scent. Fortunately, his legs are too short for him to jump on the table. If he could have, I guarantee he would have devoured it.

From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,



Cherry Cornmeal Cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
To pit cherries by hand, first you'll want to pull off the stem. Then, using a paring knife, carefully cut an equator around the cherry, getting the knife all the way into the pit and turning the cherry as you go. Pry one of the halves off the pit and place it in a bowl. Then, cut the remaining half into halves (aka quarters of the original cherry). Pry off each of these wedges and you're good to go! Keep a clean towel around so you can wipe off your hands and the counter--cherry juice stains! Recipe adapted from The USA Cookbook.
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup cornmeal*
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temp, plus more for the pan
  • ⅔ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pint cherries, washed, washed, pitted, and cut into quarters
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 8-inch square dish and place a piece of parchment over the bottom. Butter that too.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cornmeal in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat the butter with ⅔ cup sugar with an electric mixer (or by hand) until well combined and creamy. Add the egg and beat well, then add the flour and mix just until blended.
  4. Press about three quarters of the dough into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the pan. Toss the cherries with the remaining sugar and pour them over the dough, leaving a bit of space on each side. Pinch off bits of the remaining dough and press them onto the top, leaving some cherries exposed.
  5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden on the top and cooked through--a toothpick inserted in should come out clean. Let the cake rest about 1 hour, then cut into squares and serve. Vanilla ice cream is good alongside!
I prefer this cake with coarse cornmeal--it gives it a lovely, slightly crunchy texture. It's definitely a bit more refined, if you use fine cornmeal.



**Summer Fest**

This post is part of Food Network’s Summer Fest! Check out the other great cherry dishes below.

Summer Fest is a season long, bi-weekly event where Food Network editors team up with blogs to share tips and recipes about what’s available at the market.

What’s Gaby Cooking: Cherry Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream

Big Girls Small Kitchen: Cherry Cornmeal Cake

Cooking With Elise: Roasted Cherries with Lavender and Almond Panna Cotta Daydreamer Desserts: Cherry Crumble Cake

Ingredient Challenge Monday: Black Forest Ice Cream Done Two Ways

Spices and Aroma: Dilkush with Cherries

And Love It Too: Cherry-Pecan Chicken Salad

FN Dish: The Ultimate Cherry Pie

Daily*Dishin: Simple French Cherry Clafouti

Glory Foods: Collard Greens and Cherry Reduction

Chez Us: Gluten-Free Cherry Clafoutis

Food for 7 Stages of Life: South Indian Hot and Sour Soup

Virtually Homemade: Dark Chocolate Cherry Kuchen

In Jennie’s Kitchen: Cherry Conserves

The Sensitive Epicure: Gluten-Free Cherry Almond Clafouti

Cooking Channel: Very Cherry Sangria

Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cherry Balsamic Vinegar

Zaika Zabardast: Balsamic Cherry and Peach Crisp

Mooshu Jenne: Rainier Cherry Panna Cotta

Food2: A Very Cherry Recipe Round-Up

Virtually Vegan Mamma: Fresh Cherry and Almond Scones

CIA Dropout: Italian Cherry Cake

Sweet Life Bake: Honey-Tequila Pickled Cherries

Cooking With Books: Cherry Cooler

Recipe Girl: Cherry Limeade Pound Cake

Posted in: Recipe Flash
  • Bevweidner

    MA.MA. that looks good!

    the little dog is preeeecious in that little vest!

    • BGSK

      I love how he looks in red too! Funnily enough, it’s just his harness (he chews through collars), not a vest.

  • Slederman

    i can attest to this cakes deliciousness and I don’t even like cherries!

  • Cookingwithelise

    Love the pictures and can’t wait to make this recipe. It looks delicious! Finn…I love you!

  • Alyssa S

    Oh my god I want!  I need to start practicing how to cook/bake so I can try these recipes out. I feel like I would completely fail at this! I must recruit some of my “chef” friends for help.

    • BGSK

      This is totally easy. I bet you’d conquer it on your very first try!

  • Brandis Roush
  • Lori at RecipeGirl

    Love this cake- the crunch of cornmeal is a welcome texture for me!  I pitted my cherries the old-fashioned way… with a straw!  Crazy, but it works :)

  • Daydreamer Desserts

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one who has the problem, it happens to me more times than I would care to admit.  Great recipe by the way! :)

  • The Procrastobaker

    I have a sausage dog too! this makes me happy :) but what makes me more happy is how drop dead scrumptious your cake looks, my goodness I could eat my fair share of that im sure! loverlllyy

  • Digital Printing

    My godmother always made this for Christmas and give it to me as a Christmas present. She never wanted me to know the ingredients involved and how it is made. Right now,I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it! I want to surprise her and let her know that I already have the recipe!

  • Heidi @ Food Doodles

    That looks so delicious!  I’ve been wanting to make a cornmeal cake and can’t wait to try it with cherries :)

  • Reem | Simply Reem

    Looks Delicious!!!! Wonderful post with lovely pictures…..

  • MsCook009

    This looks deliciousss! If I’m not a cherry lover, can I use another kind of fruit? And if so, any recommendations?

  • LAlove

    This cake looks delicious! Can we use another fruit besides cherries?  If so, any recommendations?

    • BGSK

      You can use pretty much any fruit in this cake, including dried fruit (I think apricots would be a great place to start). This time of year, apples and pears are the obvious choice. Trim them and cut them to about the size of halved cherries, and you’ll be good.

  • LAlove

    This cake looks delicious! Can we use another fruit besides cherries?  If so, any recommendations?

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    Oh my goodness! I want that cake!  And I love the shot of the dog.  Priceless! 

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