Simple Cornmeal Cake with Seasonal Fresh Fruit

Polenta Cake Slice with Fruit by Dena Testa Brayu

Our family wound up summer with a trip to Washington, D.C., followed by two nights on Cape Cod. We opted to drive and that  gave us the opportunity to see parts of the east coast we’d never seen before. The Hudson River enchanted us despite the 3 hours it took to cross the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey. (And we hope whoever was involved in the car accident that caused the tie-up is alright.) The Jersey coast, Maryland and Delaware were glorious as was the coastline of tiny Rhode Island on the way to the Cape.

These sites were lovely to behold, but nothing prepared us in advance for the beauty and special feeling of Washington. The climb to the Lincoln Memorial left us speechless and proud, as did the Jefferson Memorial. We were excited by Julia Child’s Kitchen and the artwork at the Smithsonian, humbled by President Kennedy’s grave alongside the thousands of other  graves at Arlington, inspired by FDR’s and Martin Luther King’s memorials; and nourished by the time we spent at the Eastern Market and by the wonderful restaurants the city has to offer.

LincolnMemorial
MLK Memorial Washington DC by Dena T. Bray
Eastern Market by Dena Testa Bray
Blueberries at Market with Border
Cherries at Market by Dena Testa Bray

Pardon me if I sound like a travel guide, that is not my intent. What I want to say is that this city, home to our federal government, is so much more than politics and law. It is an ultimately humanist place, celebrating the work and sacrifice of ordinary citizens—fallen soldiers, WPA workers, Red Cross volunteers— along with the lofty and inspirational ideas of leaders as widely different as Benjamin Franklin and Ronald Reagan. Our time there brought us closer as a family and afforded some wonderful discussion. Our daughter Isabel  had no frame of reference for why Franklin D. Roosevelt would feel the need to conceal his physical disabilities, while our son Clark was inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s words about her husband, etched behind his statue. We saw footage of President Kennedy’s funeral at the Museum of American history, just before we visited his grave. Our children asked what this loss meant to my husband Al and me when we were children. I cried as I explained how sudden and frightening that event was, how it was only the beginning of more assassinations to come. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were both men whose mission was to fight peacefully for civil rights, young men on the right side of history who were taken from us too soon.

I and C Bray, Lincoln Memorial Washington DC by Dena Testa Bray
FDR Memorial Washington DC by Dena Testa Bray
Bread Line FDR Memorial Washington DC by Dena T Bray

Two days at the beach of glorious Cape Cod—with it’s clear waters and rich blue skies—formed just the right ending to an inspiring few days. We could relax and process all the grand thoughts and emotions that had become a part of us. Now, with our son back in Montreal, daughter in middle-school, we settle back into our lives and routines closer and more enriched thanks to the times we had together.

Polenta Cake Overhead with Berry and Mint by Dena Testa Bray

With summer officially over, it’s nice to think about the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables about to be harvested. This SimpleCornmeal Cakeis perfect to have on hand to dress up ripened melon, peaches, fresh berries or even homemade applesauce. Try it for breakfast—with a bit of cream cheese or butter and jam— along with hot coffee and steamed milk. Consider packing it for a school or office lunch accompanied by a wedge of local goat cheese or a slice of Camembert. Dress it up at dinner for dessert with some fresh whipped cream, chocolate shavings and fresh mint leaves. The possibilities are endless, as is the pleasure you will take in each and every bite of this multigrain cake.

I hope you had a glorious end to your summer and a wonderful Labor Day holiday.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.

Polenta Cake with Fruit and Sunflower by Dena Testa Bray

Dena


Simple Cornmeal Cake with Seasonal Fruit

Yield: 1 8-inch Round Cake, About 8 Servings

Equipment

  • 8-inch round spring-form pan
  • Parchment paper, cut to an 8-inch round

Ingredients:

  • Butter or olive oil for pan
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 6 ounces vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup polenta or stone ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour* (see notes for gluten-free alternative ingredients)
  •  
  • ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt

For serving:

  • Fresh seasonal fruit
  • Fresh yogurt, ice cream or whipped cream (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Grease an 8-inch spring-form pan with butter or olive oil. Line the bottom with parchment paper. 
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs well. Add the honey, vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt and olive oil. Whisk to combine.
  4. In another bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients. Mix into the bowl of wet ingredients, stirring just enough to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
  5. Place in the center of the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Set aside to cool completely and remove from pan.
  7. Serve with fresh fruit and more vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt, ice cream or whipped cream, if you like. This cake also goes well with Homemade Yogurt or FreshStrawberries Marinated in White Wine and Honey .
  8. Enjoy.

Notes:

  1. This recipe was adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen by Sarah Forte. They dry ingredients in her recipe include 2 cups almond flour and 1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour in place of the cornmeal, all-purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour in mine. Hers is a gluten-free alternative to this cake.
  2. If you do not plan to eat it right away, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and store in an airtight container. It should keep this way for a day or two.
  3. This cake is so versatile, consider doubling the recipe each time you make it. Freeze one for later use. Thaw before serving.