Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cornmeal Cake with Balsamic Strawberries

Happy (belated) Anniversary to me!  This was the cake Alex baked for our anniversary.  I had some wonderful fresh strawberries from the farmers' market that I wanted to bake something with.  I thought about strawberry shortcake, but we have made those several times before.  I was very tempted by this Almond-Oat Strawberry Shortcake, but I wanted to make something new and (more) different.  Then I remembered that awhile back I found a few recipes for cornmeal cakes and cornmeal pound cakes online.  So I took pieces and ideas from a number of recipes to come up with this recipe.  And then I told Alex to make it for me.  Haha.  Thanks hon!  I was originally planning on whipping up some mascarpone with a little vanilla extract to serve with the cake and the macerated strawberries, but I got lazy and decided not to make the additional trip to the grocery store.  I wish I had because the creaminess of the mascarpone would have been wonderful with the cake and berries.  Oh well.  The cake was wonderfully light and not too sweet, which meant that I ate it for breakfast as well as dessert (with and without strawberries).  The texture was somewhat similar to a sponge cake or angel food cake - it was firm and fluffy, rather than crumbly and moist, but not too moist.  It isn't rich and dense like a slice of chocolate cake or carrot cake.  It was a lovely cake with a hint of citrus and a sweet crunchy topping of turbinado sugar.  I love the addition of turbinado sugar on scones, shortcakes and this cake.  It is such a wonderful touch.

Recipe after the jump!

Cornmeal Cake with Balsamic Strawberries

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tbsp orange zest
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp turbinado sugar
2 cups sliced hulled strawberries
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Generously butter a 9-inch cake pan.  Dust pan lightly with cornmeal, tapping out excess.   Stir together flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or using an electric mixer) until smooth and fluffy.  Beat in orange peel.  Gradually add 1 cup sugar and beat until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping sides of bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in Greek yogurt and vanilla extract. Fold in dry ingredients in 3 additions until just incorporated. Transfer batter to pan and tap lightly on the counter to smooth out the batter. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool completely.  Run knife around pan sides to loosen.

Toss strawberries, sugar and balsamic in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature until juices form, at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

Cut cake into wedges. Serve with balsamic strawberries.

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