For me personally, I always load up on the fresh berries as much as possible for any dessert- and I don’t think I’m alone. This Honey Cornmeal Cake with Berries & Whip Cream is my play on a trifle as well as an ode to my new love for cornbread. Serve it as a layered caked or deconstructed into its different parts. Deconstructing it is great for get togethers because guests can take as much or as little of each component as they want and it allows you to make everything ahead of time without any compromise in flavor or texture.
I’ll be honest- my tendency is to focus in on those berries and whip cream. However, this cake is more than just a vehicle for the toppings. I’ve gone through four trials and really enjoy the texture and flavor from the cornmeal (although you definitely have to enjoy cornmeal to like this one- fair warning!). Like most of my desserts, I like to focus on unique ingredients and textures to add more flavor and complexity to desserts beyond sweet. This cake is a great option for those who don’t like their desserts too sweet. I would say this cake is akin to a fairly sweet cornbread, but in cake form. And it works perfectly in this festive summer combo with whip cream and fresh fruit.
This recipe is a combination and adaptation of a cornmeal cake by some of my favorite cookbook writers: Alison Roman, Melissa Clark, and Claire Saffitz. You can find the cake recipes in Nothing Fancy (Alison Roman), Dessert Person (Claire Saffitz), and NYT Cooking (Melissa Clark).
Behind the Recipe: Honey Cornmeal Cake with Berries & Whip Cream
- Cornmeal: I’ve only recently discovered cornmeal and I’m already hooked. I’ve added in a good amount to this batter so you’ll definitely taste it. I prefer to use fine grain if I can find it for a smoother texture. However, I usually have a hard time finding it and will use medium grain too- works just fine.
- Honey: Since you’re using a decent amount here, take a second to taste your honey. Honey can actually have fairly strong and dominant flavors depending on the type, so you want to make sure you like it! I like to go for something fairly neutral but a little floral, like wildflower.
If you enjoyed this recipe, here are a few others you may like:
Honey Cornmeal Cake with Berries & Whip Cream
Honey Cornmeal Cake
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (142g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup (112g) cornmeal, fine grain if possible, although i use medium grain and don't mind the texture
- 3/4 teaspoon diamond kosher salt
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, softened and at room temperature
- ~1/3 cup (75 grams) white sugar
- 5 tablespoons (100g) honey
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, (full fat is best)
- 1/4 cup neutral oil (canola oil, grapeseed oil)
- 4 cups fresh berries of your choice (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries), keep all berries whole except slice strawberries
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Combine all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl- AP flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Cream butter, sugar, and honey in a bowl of a standing mixer or large bowl with electric mixer. Cream until light in color, about 2 minutes on medium.
- Add in eggs, one a time with the mixer on medium, until well incorporated. I always have to scrape the sides of the bowl during this time to help make sure it's well incorporated.
- Add in vanilla extract and oil and mix until smooth.
- With the mixer on low, add in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk in two batches, alternating them to try to ensure they are mixed as well as possible. Add in oil until completely smooth.
- Pour into a prepared (oiled or buttered) 8 or 9'' cake pan. Bake until light golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.
- Let cake completely cool on a cooling rack. You can either serve it whole or slice into cubes.
Make the Whip Cream
- Place whip cream in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer (or a standing mixer), whip on medium speed until you start to see soft peaks- you'll notice lines and more texture in the whip cream. It's best to do this only an hour or so before you serve. I personally like to do it right before serving.
- Serve berries in one bowl, whip cream in another, and cake in a third bowl/pan. Serve with small bowls so people can assemble their own dessert as desired.