This Cornmeal Skillet Cake is a favorite in Dorie Greenspan’s home. It is soft, with sweet lemon notes and a nice textural twist. It is flawless when served with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
I must confess that today’s recipe is mostly about sharing my admiration for the “culinary guru” that is Dorie Greenspan (but don’t worry, the recipe is delicious too!). If you are a fan of French Cuisine, I bet you already know who Dorie is. And if you don’t, well, you should.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Dorie G. is an acclaimed cookbook author. She has won 5 James Beard Foundation Awards, two International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook of the Year Awards and has been on the New York Times Best Seller list twice. Her friends include French Chefs Pierre Herme and Daniel Boulud. And her books Baking Chez Moi, Around My French Table or Desserts by Pierre Herme are considered nothing less than bibles by bakers, home cooks and French Cuisine devotees around the world.
Let’s be honest. She might be American, but sure knows her French Cuisine.
With wit and laughter, Dorie G. makes French cuisine approachable, doable and homey. Besides, to me, she has a total understanding of what today’s French cuisine is exactly. A crazy blend of contemporary, rustic, authentic and completely acculturated (well, almost). The French traditions are still here, rooted and blossoming, but we’re also making room for the new and the foreign… Just like with this Cornmeal Skillet Cake.
This Cornmeal Skillet Cake falls into the category of “favorites” in Dorie’s house, as she says. And to me, that’s all I needed to hear to want to try it.
Dorie shared this recipe when she was a columnist for The Washington Post (as she is now the “On Dessert” columnist for The New York Times Magazine). In a humorous post called” The Cake That Taught Dorie Greenpan A Lesson”, she explained how she’s always loved the cornmeal and strawberry combination and decided to stud the cake batter with fresh strawberries before baking it. She baked the caked, but it ended up being a mushy, strawberry juice-filled cake.
Following this epic fail, she then decided to serve Cornmeal Skillet Cake with strawberries on the side – with some whipped cream, of course.
The trick of rubbing the lemon zest into the sugar (with your fingers) before starting building your batter is essential. This is a technique I have also been using when making the Classic-French Lemon Yogurt cakes, and for some reason, it really makes a difference and boosts the lovely lemon notes.
I loved this Cornmeal Skillet Cake. It was soft and sweet, with a textural twist. The grainy component from the cornmeal makes the cake weirdly pleasing to the palate. And it is a dessert cake, but it doesn’t have that overwhelming sugary factor that you can get sometimes at the end of eating a piece of cake. For this reason, it’s simply flawless when you top it off with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. It is the perfect amount of sweetness, with different textures playing together nicely.
I hope you enjoy this Cornmeal Skillet Cake by Dorie Greenspan as much I do, Bon appétit!
Cornmeal Skillet Cake by Dorie GreenspanPrint This
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the skillet
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup sugar, plus more for the berries
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup regular or low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled, for serving
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped (sweetened or not), for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with butter or baker’s spray.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl, then whisk in the cornmeal.
Put the sugar in a mixing bowl and drop in the lemon zest. Use your clean fingertips to work in the zest until the sugar is fragrant.
One at a time, whisk the eggs into the sugar, beating until well incorporated. Stir in the vanilla extract. Still working with the whisk, or switching to a flexible spatula, blend in half of the flour-cornmeal mixture. Add all the buttermilk, stirring until the batter is homogenous. Add the rest of the flour-cornmeal mixture, stirring until it disappears into the batter, which will be thick.
Stir the melted butter into the batter in three additions, waiting for each new addition to be incorporated before adding the next. Scrape the batter into the skillet and use a spatula to spread it evenly. Sprinkle the batter with sanding sugar, if you’d like.
Bake (middle rack) for 30 to 33 minutes or until golden brown, particularly around the edges; the cake will have begun to pull away from the sides of the skillet; a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean.
Transfer the cake (in the skillet) to a rack to cool for at least
30 minutes before serving. Cut the strawberries in half lengthwise; sprinkle lightly with sugar and toss to coat.
To serve, cut the cake into wedges and slice each wedge in half horizontally. Pile the bottom slice with whipped cream and berries; lean the top slice against the cream and fruit.
This is an original recipe by Dorie Greenspan and appeared in The Washington Post. // You can use a 9-inch springform pan instead of a cast-iron skillet; adjust the baking time to about 40 minutes. // This cake tastes best just after it’s made.