There are certain blogs I love to visit because they always provide me with inspiration, and Pastry Studio is one of those sites. This post was born after seeing the recipe there for cornmeal cake. If you haven't visited this site yet, you should pop over and marvel at all the wonderful pictures and recipes there. I loved this recipe so much (tweaked ever so slightly), I actually made it twice in one week. One version with mixed berries (which was delicious, and will likely appear in a later post), and this version, which I loved even more, with a fresh pineapple compote.
I'm not sure why, but whenever I see fresh pineapple, I always think of Carmen Miranda, especially once I chop the top off....
...oh, I guess that's why (wasn't she adorable???) This cake is so good, you will likely find yourself breaking into a samba once you get a taste, so maybe this should be called the Carmen Cornmeal Cake...?
Don't you love, love, love fresh pineapple? I can hardly eat canned pineapple during the winter doldrums, and wonder why anyone would eat canned when it is available fresh. It is very little work, really, to skin one, especially when you consider how simply fabulous it's going to taste once you get all that armor off. That being said, if you were in a pinch or fresh wasn't available, you could probably use canned pineapple in this recipe, but only if you must!
What's great about this recipe is that you can add whatever fruit you happen to have, or could likely even use jarred preserves in a pinch. It comes together very quickly, so is great for those quick summer meals. The pineapple compote is bursting with the tropical flavors of summer and makes a bright finish to any warm weather (hopefully al fresco) meal.
Of course, I had to put the Luv'n Spoonfuls touch to it, so some healthier ingredients have been snuck into this as much as possible without sacrificing ANY taste or texture. This is truly a dessert bursting with flavor and good-for-you-deliciousness. Isn't it great when you can feel good, all the way around, about dessert?
I used spelt flour instead of the cake flour called for in the original recipe, but you could use whole wheat pastry flour or whatever combination you like. I think that adding a little extra moisture, in the form of olive oil or low-fat plain yogurt, tends to off-set the little bit of added dryness involved with using regular whole wheat flour in recipes. I am finding more and more that spelt and barley flour, as well as whole wheat pastry flour, works a little better for these kinds of recipes and has a more delicate flavor, without losing any of the health benefits.
The pineapple compote is so easy to make and would be a great topping for yogurt, cottage cheese or even toast. It gets a boost in flavor from fresh orange and lime juice, and a generous grating of lime zest at the end. I had planned on using mango with the pineapple, but the quality of the mangos was not what I was hoping for when I cut into them, so I went with the single ingredient for the fruit, and I'm really glad I did. The natural sweetness of the pineapple is accentuated and deepened by the slow simmer involved in making the compote, which really concentrates the flavor.
The cornmeal to flour ratio in this recipe is just perfect in my opinion...you get the slight crunch from the cornmeal without it being overpowering. The texture is light and airy, which is perfect for this time of year. I'm not a big fan of heavy or over-sweet desserts, so this recipe naturally appealed to me, and I think you will love it too! A little dusting of powdered sugar, or even a drizzle of whipped cream, is all that is needed to finish the cake, as the pineapple is the main attraction.
This recipe sings 'Summer' and hits all the right notes: fruity, tropical, light, healthy...and delicious! Music to my ears...and tastebuds!
Whole Wheat Cornmeal Cake with Pineapple Compote
1 1/4 spelt flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbs white corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick or 1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup almond oil
3/4 cup sugar
zest of 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
4 cups diced fresh pineapple, about 1-inch x 1/4-inch thick pieces (about 1 medium pineapple)
1/4 cup sugar, or less if the pineapple is really sweet
juice of two limes
juice of one orange
zest from two limes
Put the first four ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat on low until bubbling and the pineapple is soft, about 20 minutes. The compote should start to thicken. Remove from the heat and sprinkle in the lime zest. Let cool, while making the cake.
For the cake--
Sift together the dry ingredients.
Beat butter, almond oil and sugar three to four minutes until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down the paddle and sides of the bowl. Mix in the zest, vanilla and orange extract. To the butter mixture, add 1/3 of the sifted dry ingredients, then add 1/2 of the yogurt, then 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then the rest of the yogurt, finishing with the dry ingredients. Stir until just mixed; don't overwork. Scoop into 16 cupcake liners, four mini loaves, a 9 X13 pan, or a large tart pan, reserving approximately 1/3 of the batter. Top with all but about 3/4 cup of the compote mixture. Dot with the remaining batter and top with a few reserved pineapple chunks. This is a flat cake and will not dome, and may even collapse a little bit. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden skewer comes out clean. The edges may brown. Cool on a wire rack about 10 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve, or brush with warmed fruit preserves (I used pineapple mango preserves).