A Summer Stone Fruit Skillet Cake & a Maple Syrup Drizzle

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Fruit with pits….Stone fruit….Drupes….all names for a group of plentiful Summer fruits such as peaches, plums, cherries and apricots. Pluots are a hybrid of plums and apricots. My friend Mark has a tree with hundreds of these beauties hanging heavy and ripe that he was so gracious to share with me. The Rainier Cherries I picked up at a local market. Don’t the cherries look like wee pluots?

I made this cake last week when the temp got down to the high 70’s and low 80’s during the day. I did not mind turning on the oven for a bit to make this simple skillet cake with my stash of stone fruit.

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A generous smearing of softened butter on the skillet surface first, then the sliced pluots & cherries to cover the bottom.

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This batter is a cross between traditional cake & cornbread batters. Orange Flower water & vanilla extract added to the batter created a wonderful aroma in my kitchen while it was baking.

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Is there anything not made better with a bit of Maple Syrup drizzled on top?

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Warm, moist, aromatic & fruity with a cake texture and a hint of the cornmeal crunch. A bit more drizzle on each serving. A good brunch cake or for the late afternoon with a cup of coffee or tea when we all need a break. Here….have a bite.

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A Summer Cornmeal Skillet Cake with a Maple Syrup Drizzle

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp softened butter
  • 1 cup self-rising yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup turbinado or brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Orange Flour water
  • 3/4 to 1 cup Buttermilk or Whole Milk
  • 3-4 pitted & thickly sliced Pluots
  • 8-10 pitted Rainier Cherries, cut in half if large or left whole if small
  • Maple Syrup to drizzle over the warm cake

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 8 or 10 inch black iron skillet.
  2. Cover the bottom of the skillet with pluots slices and cherries.
  3. In a mixing bowl whisk together the cornmeal, flour & brown sugar.
  4. To the bowl add the eggs, Vanilla extract, Orange Flower water and enough of the buttermilk or whole milk to create a batter.
  5. Pour batter over the stone fruit in the skillet.
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the center of the cake is set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Adjust baking time to suit your oven. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for about 10 minutes.
  7. Turn cake upside down on a serving plate and drizzle with pure Maple Syrup.
  8. Serve cut into slices with additional drizzle if desired.

Recipe by: teresablackburnfoodstyling.com           Blog: foodonfifth.com

Blackberries, A Snake and An Upside Down (Gluten Free) Cake

Fresh Blackberries Please

I will bet most of you do not think of Blackberries and immediately think of Snakes…yes real live Snakes! Let me just say I am pretty crazy about freshly picked Blackberries, but not so crazy about snakes (sorry snake lovers). Why, you might ask, do I think of these two things simultaneously? Let me tell share with you a very short vignette….

….West Tennessee on a dry, dusty, hotter-than-Hades kind of day…lots of years ago when I was around 9 or 10…

I loved doing anything with my Grandmother (Granny) no matter if it was work or play.  I always wanted to tag along. The wild blackberries hung heavy & ripe all around so it was time to go berry-picking, the wild kind not the kind of blackberries planted in neat rows.  We were cautioned to wear “real shoes” &  to take care when blackberry picking as snakes liked berry patches.  This caution, along with many others doled out on such occasions, was met with a certain nonchalance on my part. Before this particular day, not after, nor since.

The sun was relentless as we began to pick around the outer edge of the very dense berry patch. At first reaching what was easy. But so very many large juicy black berries were just out of my reach a few feet into the patch. I wanted those berries. I boldly stepped forward with one foot lifted off the ground when I “felt” something move liquid smooth, quietly, directly beneath where I was about to plant my foot. I froze, foot midair.  Looking down I saw the snake slithering, very large & fat right underneath my berries & my foot. I am convinced to this day that I did levitate, backwards, out of the berry patch. There is something very Biblical about levitation isn’t there? And Fruit? And Snakes?

I did not pick anymore berries that summer.  I have picked since, I have bought many berries that others have picked, I am still pretty crazy about blackberries, but still not so much about snakes.

Here is a really easy not-so-sweet upside down cake that I made last Sunday using fresh local Blackberries picked by others, along with a few Pluots.

Cake

Here is what you will need to make this very dense moist gluten-free cake:

Ingredients for Upside Down Cake

1/2 stick Butter, 1 pint of Blackberries, 2 Pluots (or plums or peaches), 1 cup Raw Sugar/Turbinado, 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix, 1 cup Almond Meal Flour, the zest of 1 Lemon, 3 eggs, 2 cups Buttermilk, Sliced Almonds

Here is how you make it:

Skillet with Browned Butter

1. Place a 10-12 inch cast iron skillet with the 1/2 stick of butter over medium high heat until the butter is browned. Remove skillet from heat & set aside to cool somewhat. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Let me take a moment to say that if you do not have an iron skillet get one. A good seasoned cast iron skillet is just the best thing to use for all sorts of cooking. Lodge pre-seasoned cast iron skillets can be purchased very affordably on-line. I have many of their skillets in various sizes that I use daily.  For this recipe I am using my Great Grandmother’s iron skillet which is amazing well seasoned and is one of the reasons this cake will slip right out of the pan after it is cooked with no sticking.

Blackberries & Pluots in Iron Skillet

2. Slice Pluots & arrange in the bottom of the iron skillet over the browned butter. Sprinkle the Blackberries to cover bottom of skillet between & around Pluot slices.

Batter for Upside Down Cake

3. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the cornmeal, almond flour & sugar.  Add eggs & buttermilk & lemon zest.  Blend until batter is smooth. Spread batter over fruit in the skillet. Sprinkle with a generous handful of sliced almonds.

Upside down cake batterUpside down cake batter over fruit

Batter in skilletSliced Almonds over Upside Down Cake Batter

4. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes until golden brown &  bubbly around the edges & set in the center. Let cake cool in the skillet for about 10 minutes.

Upside Down Cake Baked

5. The “reveal” of an upside down cake is always the fun part. Place a plate or platter larger than the skillet face down over the skillet & then quickly & carefully invert plate & skillet right side up.

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See how easy that was?

Blackberry Upside Down Cake

The crunch of the cornmeal combined with the browned butter, lemon zest & almond flavors & not too much sugar meld to make a very satisfying breakfast cake. Dust with a bit of powdered sugar if desired.

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Have you ever picked wild berries? Have you ever almost stepped on a snake? Do you connect foods you eat to events  from your past?

After I posted this my friend Diane Stopford, a Dubliner, left me a comment and a link to a poem by Seamus Heaney “Blackberry Picking” which I wanted to share with you. Thanks Diane.

Eat more Cake.

Film Strip Father’s Day – Slightly Sweet Blueberry Cornmeal Spoon Bread

“The Film Strip”

One of my many early food memories is of my Dad eating a glass of icy thick cold, golden-flecked buttermilk with some of my Mother’s warm cornbread crumbled into it. I am pretty sure this combination is mostly a Southern thing.

My Dad was a rounder to say the least. On this eve of Father’s Day I think of him and can still see him sitting in our linoleum floored West Tennessee kitchen. Bare-bulb ceiling light casting harsh shadows, the back screen door keeping out the moths and letting in a summer breeze, sitting, alone in the summer night heat, the beginnings of a hangover about to take hold, quietly eating his buttermilk and cornbread, looking up, seeing me standing in the doorway…a cocked smile on his face, offering me a bite.

Most of my food memories have mental film strips attached to them. Some are laugh-out-loud funny, some are quietly poignant, others from my raucous youth and a few bitter-sweet. I keep them all and they have all helped me as an adult in so many ways. So, on this Father’s Day, while thinking of Dads in general and my own in particular, I came up with a new way to combine buttermilk and cornmeal with a dash of sweet.

“Slightly Sweet Blueberry Cornmeal Spoon Bread”

(For this recipe I used local, just picked blueberries from the Sylvan Park/West Nashville Farmer’s market and fresh buttermilk from J.D’s Dairy in Russellville, Ky from the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market.)

Ingredients:

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 1/2 cups fresh buttermilk

1/2 cup yellow self-rising cornmeal

2 Tbsp cream

2 tbsp softened butter

1/2  cup raw sugar

3 eggs, separated

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Directions:

First things first: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. In a saucepan bring the buttermilk & raw sugar to a low boil. When the buttermilk begins to bubble around the edges of the pan slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Stir with the whisk for about 8 minutes with heat on low. Mixture should be mushy. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.

2. Beat egg whites with the salt until stiff. Set aside.

3. Whisk butter  & vanilla into the slightly cooled cornmeal mixture.

4. Add egg yolks to mixture & whisk until well blended. Stir in cream with whisk.

5. Gently fold in beaten egg whites. Pour 1/2 of the mixture into a buttered  baking dish &  top with 1/2 of the blueberries. Spread the remainder of the cornmeal mixture over the blueberries.  Top with a scattering of the remaining blueberries.

6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until top is golden brown, firm but wobbly in the center. This spoon bread will be somewhat like a souffle in puffiness. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes. Serve hot with a dusting of powdered sugar. This Blueberry Cornmeal Spoon Bread is really good at room temp or chilled as well.

Father’s Day June 19, 2011

Most Sunday mornings my friend Terry Martin and I work (or don’t work)  the NYTimes Crossword Puzzle. It is our long-standing tradition and unless one of us is out-of-town we honor this custom without fail. Terry has been a bit dismayed that she has so far missed out on my “Blog Food”. This Father’s Day morning (both of our Father’s are long-dead) I made this  “Slightly Sweet Blueberry Cornmeal Spoon Bread” especially for her. We worked the puzzle, we ate the warm, powdered sugar dusted Spoon Bread, we worked the puzzle, we ate some more…….

finito!

"Darling" cup from the flea market. I think it might have been a child's drinking cup, but found it holds exactly 1/2 cup so it has become my favorite 1/2 measure cup.