Friday, 10 July 2015

Almond Cornmeal Cake with Raspberries

Back to the ground almonds and buttermilk...and after this cake I have succeeded in using both of them up. I wanted to make some kind of cake, but had no butter...I used olive oil, which may sound strange to some people, but it gives a light texture and taste to the cake, and is used in baking more often than you might think. The taste of olive oil can hardly be distinguished once the cake has finished baking.

I chose to add in some of the frozen raspberries from our berry picking adventure last year; it's time to pick more and these are just about all gone. Why not speed things up a bit?

The cornmeal and almonds give a slight crunchy texture to the moist, tender cake and the raspberries add a bit of tartness. The cake is not overly sweet, and the hint of lemon accents the raspberries and almonds.

Start by turning the oven on to 350F to pre-heat. Line the bottom of a 9" springform pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup ground almonds
3/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients:

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
zest of half a lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup olive oil

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and using a rubber spatula, gently fold them together.

When the wet and dry ingredients are almost completely combined, gently fold in:

3/4 cup frozen reaspberries

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Put the cake into the oven and bake until golden, starting to crack on the top, and a wooden skewer inserted into the centre comes out dry.

This takes between 25 - 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, and carefully run a knife around the outside. Remove the outside ring and allow the cake to cool.

Allow the cake to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Dust the top with icing sugar if you want a slightly sweeter effect. We enjoyed it as it was, warm out of the oven.

  • The almonds can be omitted if you like; the cornmeal will still give the crunchy texture that is such a lovely contrast to the tender, moist cake.
  • Other nuts could be used...pinenuts, lightly toasted or hazelnuts are two good choices.
  • If you have access to nut oils, use them instead of olive oil. For stronger tasting oils such as hazelnut you might want to consider using half hazelnut and half olive oil. Paired with ground hazelnuts this will really bring out the hazelnut in your cake.
  • If the thought of baking with olive oil still seems strange, use an equal amount of vegetable oil or melted butter. The butter will increase the richness of the cake.
  • I used 1/4 cup lemon olive oil and 1/4 extra virgin olive oil. This emphasized the lemon zest, while still maintaining it as a background flavour.
  • Almond extract can be used with, or instead of, the vanilla extract.
  • Buttermilk can be used for the whole liquid portion of the recipe. Milk and sour cream could also be used.
  • With summer in full swing, fresh raspberries are available...use these instead of frozen. Other fruits that could be used are blackberries, blueberries or chopped fresh peaches.
  • Dried fruits such as raisins, chopped apricots, figs or prunes can be soaked in juice, sweet wine or liqueur and folded into the batter.
  • Chopped fresh rosemary, ground black pepper or orange zest are other flavouring choices if you have no lemons. When adding rosemary, less is more, as the flavour is strong and will overpower everything else. 
  • The cake is best served warm or at room temperature, for breakfast, coffee or dessert. Add fresh berries and whipped cream when serving it as a dessert.
  • A glaze made by mixing together 3/4 cup icing sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice can be made and poured over the top of the cooled cake.

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