Pear, Maple and Nutmeg Cornmeal Cake + Kitchen Tools #1

Pear, Maple and Nutmeg Cornmeal Cake all dressed up with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt is an easy, alternate idea for Holiday celebrations that will be much appreciated by those looking for something naturally sweet without using a lot of granulated sugar. Rich, almost caramelized, pears with nutmeg then generously drizzled with maple syrup while hot out of the oven is good for a few days warm or cold.

I like how the maple syrup pools in the pear.

There is nothing quite like freshly grated nutmeg. Do you have one of these graters, or a nutmeg grinder? They are inexpensive and will become one of your most used kitchen tools if you, like me, find the jarred ground nutmeg somewhat pale in aroma and flavor. Whole nutmeg grated is a much used spice at our house. Wouter adds it to his meatballs and always in his wonderful mashed potatoes. Just a hint is often all that is needed. This cake recipe calls for a generous amount and is just the thing paired with real maple syrup.

Notice how I grated the nutmeg onto a sheet of parchment paper? Parchment is another “kitchen tool” that I use every day for measuring flour onto, lining cake pans or sheet pans so I don’t have to scrub them so much….small pieces are good for using like this instead of another dish to wash! Can you tell washing dishes is not my favorite thing?

Melon ballers in various sizes are great for coring apples and pears, making melon balls of course….or butter balls.  It was so easy to core the pears to create a bowl to hold all that tasty maple syrup using this small melon baller.

See that wee paring knife? It is my go-to knife for so many jobs in the kitchen…I finally bought a good one that has a thin blade that sharpens well. It was not the cheapest nor the costliest, but it fits my hand just perfect and came from E. Dehillerin in Paris. I picked it up at our local Willliams-Sonoma.

So that’s four kitchen tools….nutmeg grater or grinder, parchment paper, melon baller and paring knife….basics…not trendy…forever useful, especially for these days of seasonal baking.

Warm, aromatic cake drizzled with Vanilla flavored Greek Yogurt. Yum.

Pear, Maple and Nutmeg Cornmeal Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 ripe, but firm pears, halved, cored and peeled
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, divided
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup 2 percent milk
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup, divided + extra for serving
  • 2 large eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2 cups vanilla greek yogurt, whipped for serving

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 9″ round x 2″ deep cake pan with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of the melted butter to a cast iron or other heavy skillet. Set over medium heat. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over the butter.
  3. Place pear halves in a circle in the bottom of the pan, cut side up. Sprinkle cut sides with 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Turn pears over with cut side down. Sprinkle with another 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Cook pears until most of the liquid has evaporated and cut sides are beginning to lightly caramelize, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Place pears, cut sides down, in the prepared 9″ round cake pan.
  6. Quickly whisk together remaining 1/4 ground nutmeg, flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  7. Whisk in milk, 1/4 cup maple syrup, eggs and remaining melted butter just until smooth. Pour mixture over pears and bake until golden brown, for about 20-25 minutes. Test with a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake. Remove from oven and using a skewer make a few random holes over the entire cake surface. Drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup maple syrup. Let cake cool on a wire rack while syrup soaks in for about 15 minutes. Carefully invert onto a serving plate.
  8. Cut cake into 8 wedges with each person getting a pear half, drizzle with another bit of maple syrup and add a dollop of vanilla greek yogurt.  (This cake keeps well for a few days and is deliciously seasoonal either warm or cold.)

(This recipe is adapted from a recipe by Ruth Cousineau from Gourmet Magazine February 2008 that I clipped and saved. I tweaked a few things to make it easier to make. Thanks Ruth for the inspiration.)

Teresa Blackburn    http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com   www.foodonfifth.com

 

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