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,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Cherry Cornmeal Cake
Adapted from the USA Cookbook
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!
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cornmeal*
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp, plus more for the pan
2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 pint cherries, washed, washed, pitted, and cut into quarters
Note: 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.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 8-inch square dish and place a piece of parchment over the bottom. Butter that too.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cornmeal in a medium bowl and set aside.
Beat the butter with 2/3 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.
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.
Bake for 30-40 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!
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
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