There have been a lot of cakes in my life recently. First, there was fresh fig cake, then there was an apple-cinnamon one, and now there is orange cornmeal cake, crunchy and sweet with bright orange permeating every bite.
Cake-baking sprees are no surprise this time of year. Where summer afternoons are made for picnics in the park, fall afternoons are a time to laze with a book*, a large cup of coffee and a large slice of barely sweetened cake studded with fruit. Bonus: the cooler temperatures mean that it’s acceptable to have the oven on for long periods of time.
This orange cornmeal cake falls somewhere between a plush coffee cake and a sweet cornbread, and would be equally delicious topped with powdered sugar or a quick glaze as it would with creamy butter and a drizzle of honey. There’s a slightly higher-than-normal amount of salt in here and olive oil, which is quickly becoming my new favorite baking ingredient. It adds an extra-fruity undertone to the cake while keeping it moist.** That the whole cake requires one bowl and basically two steps (mix cake, bake cake) means that this definitely won’t be the last time this graces my kitchen.
*I have yet to buy J.K. Rowling’s new book because I’m so immersed in the fifth Game of Thrones book. The only part of the 16-hour schlep to Buenos Aires that I’m looking forward to is reading, now that I’ve got two books lined up.
**I abhor this word. I could not be more grossed out by it, and often refer to it as the “m-word.” Unfortunately, I have yet to find a suitable alternative (other than “not dry”), possibly because its synonyms are equally cringe-inducing.
Orange Cornmeal Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart
– 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for pan
– 2 large eggs
– 1 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup for topping
– 1/2 cup orange juice
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
– 2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1 teaspoon salt
– zest of 1 orange
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1) Preheat the oven to 375F and grease an 8-inch round cake pan.
2) Fold all of the ingredients together (using only 1 cup of the sugar) in a large bowl until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top evenly with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar.
3) Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown on top and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Serve with orange segments (optional).