Cornmeal and summer fruit provide a lovely texture to this moist blackberry peach skillet cornmeal cake. Sink your fork into the buttery soft center and enjoy the crisp crunchy edges! Top with brown butter icing for a uniquely irresistible treat.
Cornbread has a permanent spot in my family’s heart. My favorite cornbread recipe is in regular rotation while cornbread stuffing graces our table during the holiday season. Cornbread muffins are an easy side dish or snack and skillet cornbread has the best crispy caramelized edges.
We’re cornbread people and today’s recipe is simply another example. Fruit-filled and supremely moist, this cornmeal cake is unlike any cake I’ve baked before. The texture will steal your heart, make your tastebuds dance, and weaken your knees. And that’s just the cake—I haven’t even mentioned brown butter icing yet!
This is a Different Sort of Cake
I’ve shared several cake recipes on this website. And each cake is more different than the last! To name a few, we’ve explored icebox cake, chocolate zucchini cake, pound cake, vanilla cake, and strawberry shortcake. I love going outside of my baking comfort zone because exploring different cake recipes is an endless journey. Like cookies, the very definition of cake is complex. Cake can come in all different sizes, shape, flavors, and textures. Heck, you can even serve cake on a stick by making cake pops!
But no cake compares to skillet cornmeal cake.
What is Cornmeal Cake?
Cornmeal cake is NOT cornbread cake. It’s isn’t super grainy, savory, or dry. (Though this favorite cornbread recipe is anything but dry!) Rather, cornmeal cake is:
- Baked in a skillet
- Mega textured
- Light and buttery
- Mildly sweet
- Crisp on the edges
Buttermilk is a key ingredient because it keeps the cornmeal cake extra moist. Brown sugar does the same. But buttermilk’s tangy flavor also helps balance the sweetness. So while cornmeal cake is definitely a dessert, you won’t feel guilty snagging an extra slice. Cornmeal, another key ingredient, gives the cake its pleasantly gritty texture. This cake is not as gritty as a slice of cornbread, but just enough to differentiate itself from regular yellow cake.
One of the best parts? Add some of summer’s freshest fruits. I used peaches and blackberries because they’re juicy and taste wonderful paired together. Every bite has a juicy pop which pairs perfectly with the cake’s unique texture. By the way, if you love baking with peaches as much as I do, you’ll get a kick out of this peach bread.
How to Bake Cornmeal Cake
I recommend baking cornmeal cake in a cast iron skillet because it keeps the center moist and produces super crisp edges. If texture is your thing, you’ll appreciate the varying textures in every bite! You can actually bake this 1 layer carrot cake the same way. A 10-inch springform pan works too, but I recommend a 10-inch cast iron skillet. This is the same pan I use for skillet turkey pot pie, my frittata recipe, sea salt and herb rolls, bruschetta chicken, biscuits, and more. A regular 9-inch cake pan is too small and short.
Speaking of baking—over-baking won’t do your cornmeal cake any favors. Every single wonderful thing to love about cornmeal cake (light! moist! buttery!) will be erased. Keep your eye on it and follow my baking time suggestions.
For extra texture and crunch, top the cake with coarse sugar before baking. Coarse sugar is totally optional, but you know I love that little extra sparkle.
Brown Butter Icing
This cornmeal cake tastes great on its own, but tastes even better with brown butter icing. This icing is pure gold and tastes unbelievable with any dessert including pistachio cookies, brown butter pumpkin oatmeal cookies, and peach Bundt cake. Brown butter icing belongs on everything, including a spoon on a trip to your mouth. 🙂
What is brown butter? Brown butter is nutty, toasty, and caramel flavored. The process takes no more than 5-8 minutes, so it’s relatively quick and simple. Brown butter elevates every single dessert it touches, including icing. Have you tried my brown butter chocolate chip cookies?
For the icing, whisk browned butter, confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract together until smooth. Drizzle over the cake. Because butter is solid at room temperature, the brown butter icing sets and becomes a thick caramel-nutty-buttery layer on top of the blackberry peach skillet cornmeal cake.
And yes, that’s a very good thing!
More Summer Baking RecipesPrint
Blackberry Peach Skillet Cornmeal Cake
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: serves 8
- Category: Cake
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Cornmeal and summer fruit provide a lovely texture to this moist blackberry peach skillet cornmeal cake. Top with brown butter icing for the ultimate treat!
- 1 and 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1/2 cup (60g) yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup (160ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
- 1 peach, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup (115g) fresh or frozen blackberries (do not thaw)
- optional: coarse sugar for topping
Brown Butter Icing
- 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter
- 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) confectioners’ sugar
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) milk
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Lightly butter a 10-12 inch oven-safe skillet. Alternatively, you can use a 10-inch springform pan. 9-inch will be a little too small.
- Make the cake: Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and vanilla, then beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the buttermilk until combined. Do not overmix. You may need to whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. Finally, fold in the fruit. The batter will be slightly thick. Spread into prepared skillet. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired (and an extra blackberry or two!).
- Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If baking in a 12-inch skillet, the cake shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes since it will be thinner.
- Remove from the oven and allow to slightly cool on a wire rack before icing and serving.
- Make the icing: Slice the butter up into pieces and place in a light-colored skillet. (Light colored helps you determine when the butter begins browning.) Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Keep stirring occasionally. After 5-6 minutes, the butter will begin browning– you’ll notice lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan and it will have a nutty aroma. You can see a visual in my How to Brown Butter post. Once browned, remove from heat immediately and cool for 5 minutes. The butter will eventually solidify, so don’t let it sit too long. After 5 minutes, whisk in the rest of the icing ingredients until smooth. Add more confectioners’ sugar for a thicker texture, if desired. Likewise, add more milk to thin out if needed.
- Drizzle over cornmeal cake. Slice and serve warm or you can wait until it’s full cool to room temperature. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Freezing Instructions: Cake can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature (if desired) before serving.
- Buttermilk: I strongly recommend using real buttermilk in this recipe. In a pinch, you can use DIY soured milk. To do so, simply add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup and enough whole or 2% milk to reach 2/3 cup. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes, then use in the recipe. Lower fat or nondairy milks work in a pinch, but the cake won’t taste as rich and moist.
Keywords: cornmeal, cornbread
Reader Comments & Reviews
Another fantastic recipe for a cast iron skillet! Great cake for snacking and for dessert, too. We love the flavor.
Hi Sally! Do you know if frozen peaches would work? If so, would you know how much I would need? This cake looks delicious and so different – I have a whole bag of cornmeal in the pantry that I had no clue what to do with
Hi Stephanie, If you use frozen peaches be sure to pat dry the extra moisture and cut the slices into chunks – you can use about a half cup of the chunks. Enjoy!
Would this recipe work as muffins?
Absolutely! Bake time should be around 20-22 minutes at 350°F (177°C).
Dear Sally, made this recipe skillet cake with peaches and blueberries instead of blueberries as that is what I had on hand. You have to have a fondness for cornmeal (and I do). It was excellent right out of the oven plus the next couple days—held up beautifully. Next time, blackberries! Thank you, fun to have a skillet dessert.
So good with blueberries too!
I’ve been wanting to make this for a while but I can never find peaches! I finally found some then of course couldn’t find blackberries but I made it anyways and substituted the blackberries for raspberries. This was easily one of the most delicious cakes to come out of my kitchen. I was pleasantly surprised! Also, definitely don’t need moisture insurance as this was an incredibly moist cake! And that brown butter icing…. oh my god. Do yourself a favour and do not skip it! I embarrassingly licked the frying pan clean after I poured the icing onto the cake.
And a note to the woman who said it looked over baked because it was dark? Not even close to overbaked but still dark… it’s from the brown sugar!
Is this feezable once sliced? Thank you!
Sure can! Cake can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature (if desired) before serving.
I finally made this, and holy. S***. So, so, so good. My boyfriend has lost his ability to speak and keeps digging back into the skillet. I want to eat this every day!
I made this tonight for dessert with my parents and it exceeded my expectations! My cast iron skillet has seen better days, so I used a deep dish 10″ pie plate. It took a bit longer to bake, but the end result was delicious! And the icing! I could have eaten the whole bowl! I will definitely be making this again!
I love, love, love cornmeal cakes so I had to make this one. For all of you cautious about trying a skillet cake or a cornmeal cake, try it. You will not be sad you did. Frozen blackberries were silly expensive this week so I used raspberries instead. In sum it was an easy weeknight dessert and made a tasty breakfast.
Thank you so much for reporting back about the cornmeal cake, Rachel!
I’d like to try this cake but I was wondering if polenta will work…I always have it in the pantry…is there a difference that would not make it work?
Hi Kathleen! I can’t speak from experience if it will or won’t, so sorry!
Hi Sally…after doing some research I found that polenta is the name of the dish that could be made with a wide variety of grains with cornmeal being the most popular. So I made this cake and well as usual it was so moist and decadent and became even better up to the third day…we disciplined ourselves with little slices :). I also used my trusty 100 year ole cast iron skillet which made the presentation extra special. Sally, at this rate I am quickly gaining a fan base thanks to you!
Hi, Sally ~ I made this for my co-workers, and there wasn’t enough to go around! Multiple people told me that they came back for seconds…and thirds! I’m glad I got my piece first. 😉
Made your cake yesterday for something fresh after birthday dinner. Everyone loved it, son-in-law ate 2 pieces! Loved the texture, moistness. I think I might have added more fruit, some of the pieces had fruit on the bottom and some didn’t, so everyone fought over the fruity pieces. Im new to this blogging and I’m finding I love this and your recipes! Thank You, keep them coming. Oh, I also made your zucchini chocolate cake, my daughter and I tasted it together oh my gosh, so good, we looked at each other and started laughing it was so rich and chocolaty, my daughter jokingly said, “you shouldn’t have put so much zucchini in it”
Hi, Sally! Great recipe- made it today! Thank and awesome posts! Can not believe you are not in the hall of fame… You are a baking goddess!!! 😉
I made this beauty today and the 12′ can feed an army!! While it turned out perfect I think I should’ve waited longer for the cake to cool down more before I put on the frosting. Being so warm the frosting melted a bit and made parts of the cake soggy. I’ll know better next time but even somewhat soggy it’s absolutely DELISH !! Sally do you think this can be frozen without the frosting ? Super recipe Sally, and congrats to you & all the boys in your house!!!
Sally – I, too, wonder about a substitute for peaches, as we’re not crazy about them. Someone suggested blueberries but somehow that doesn’t appeal to me and it’s too much dark fruit!
I would say raspberries or chopped strawberries! 🙂 Maybe 3/4 – 1 cup.