Saturday, February 4, 2017

Orange Cornmeal Skillet Cake

This is a somewhat unusual cake with cornmeal, thyme and caramelized oranges and I really, really loved it.  Thyme might be a little different item to put into the cake, but it added a taste nuance that I enjoyed.  If you don't have any, or you're unsure you'd like, by all means, leave it out.

I made it for a family function, and we ended up going out for dinner and when we returned to the house, everyone was too full for dessert.  I cut the cake into wedges and sent it home with people.  I cut my piece into wedges and took it for my work breakfast, throwing it in the microwave to heat up a bit to enjoy with coffee. I was kind of amazed at how enjoyable it was.  Thick and dense, not too sweet with great flavors from the caramelized oranges, thyme and hints of vanilla.

I used King Arthur brand Gluten Free flour, Measure for Measure, which is by FAR the best GF flour I have ever used.  You can always use regular flour if you don't need GF.

Makes one cake, serves 10-12

2 cups all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur's "measure for measure" GF flour)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 cup whole milk
4 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 large orange, 2 small oranges or 3 tangerines, sliced 1/8-inch thick

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For batter: In a medium bowl stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt. In a large bowl beat the 3/4 cup butter with a mixer on medium to high for 30 seconds. 

Add granulated sugar. Beat 1 minute or until fluffy, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each until combined. Add milk, beating until just combined. Stir in the orange zest and the 2 tsp. vanilla; set aside.

Heat a 10 inch (what I used) or 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the 1/2 cup butter. Stir the butter around until melted and the bottom of skillet is coated. Whisk in the brown sugar, 11/2 tsp. vanilla, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Bring to boiling; boil 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened and caramelized.  

Stir in the thyme leaves. Remove from heat. Lay the orange slices in one even layer in the bottom of the skillet. 

Spoon batter over orange and butter mixture; spread evenly.

Put skillet on a baking sheet* and bake 45 to 50 minutes or until top is golden and knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in skillet 5 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate; transfer any fruit stuck in skillet to cake. Cool 20 minutes. Garnish with thyme sprigs.

*The butter mixture will most likely drip from the pan, this will avoid a big mess in the bottom of your oven.

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