After making corn muffins for brunch on Saturday, I had some extra fine-ground cornmeal burning a hole in my pocket. So when I asked Heather what I could bring to dinner and she assigned me dessert duty (not exactly a chore), I showed up with cornmeal, olive oil, and a navel orange, and set about zesting and mixing.
Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe to be gluten-free, this cake is moist, hearty, and not too sweet. I usually don’t gravitate toward citrus flavors for dessert, but the orange flavor in this cake is subtle and refreshing and I was completely won over. The cake is fantastic with whipped cream, but is also good enough to stand alone.
It would also be excellent with afternoon tea, if you’re into that sort of thing (or British).
And don’t short the sugar on this one or you’ll end up with orange-flavored cornbread. Oops!
Cornmeal Olive Oil Cake with Whipped Cream
- 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for pan
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar, plus a few handfuls for topping
- 1/2 cup champagne (or dry white wine or orange juice)
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 1/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1/2 cup fine-ground yellow cornmeal
- 1 1/2 tsp. guar gum (Bob’s Red Mill)
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
Pre-heat oven to 357F. Oil a 6×8 glass baking dish thoroughly.
Mix olive oil, eggs, 1 cup sugar, champagne, and orange zest until well combined. I like to zest my orange with a fine-toothed cheese grater, so the zest is big enough to be just visible in the finished cake. Mix dry ingredients separately and then stir into wet ingredients until just combined.
Spoon batter into baking dish and sprinkle top of cake with a generous layer of sugar (a few handfulls will do it) to make a crust. The layer should be visible when you put the cake in the oven.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
This recipe would also work beautifully baked in individual ramekins, or garnished with vanilla ice cream and a berry coulis.
Note: to make this recipe for gluten-eaters, swap the gluten-free flour for regular all-purpose flour and leave out the guar gum. Yum.
For whipped cream:
- 1 half-pint whipping cream
- fine sugar (a few tablespoons)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Chill your mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer until quite cold. It’s even better if you can put your mixing bowl on ice inside of another mixing bowl (like a double-chiller instead of a double-boiler). The cold helps the fat in the whipped cream stick together and hold air to form stiff peaks.
Whip cream with a whisk (or use a beater at medium speed) until it expands in volume and forms stiff peaks (meaning it holds its shape well). Add vanilla extract and several tablespoons of sugar to taste, and serve.