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!
Over the past few months, I’ve shared several cake recipes. And each cake is more different than the last. We explored sponge cake and icebox cake, chocolate zucchini cake and 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, cake can even come on a stick!
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 my 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.
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! I recommend a 10-inch cast iron skillet, but a springform pan works too. A regular 9-inch cake pan is too small and short.
Speaking of baking– over-baking is cornmeal cake suicide. 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, 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. Simply melt butter to the point where its milk solids are gently cooked. This takes no more than 6-8 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!
We enjoyed this cake for my sister-in-law’s birthday and everyone commented on the delicious flavors, textures, and– of course– the icing!!Print
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 (190g) all-purpose flour, (spoon & 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. (Visual pictured here.) Once browned, remove from heat immediately and allow to 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 suggest using real buttermilk in this recipe. In a pinch, you can use DIY soured milk– simply add 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup and enough whole or 2% milk to reach 2/3 cup. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then use in the recipe.
Keywords: cornmeal, cornbread
Fresh peach cobbler, anyone?