A Little Rock N’ Roll

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One of the things I love about getting a CSA box is that it forces you to get a little adventurous with your meals every once in a while. (What can I cook with beet greens? How do I cut a butternut squash? What the hell do I do with all these oranges?? #bougieproblems) Now, I’m definitely not saying these are daredevil-like risks we’re taking here, just a little push to get out of the weekday safety meals. As noted in a previous post, I received a festive box of fresh cranberries in my last shipment from Farm Fresh to You, so never having cooked with them before, I hit the blogosphere for inspiration. After a solid hour had past (this is why I don’t need a television) and a good twenty recipes had been added to my food board on Pinterest, I found a recipe in the LA Times for this cranberry orange cornmeal cake. It is perfection.

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I am drawn to simple, no-fuss recipes with equally low maintenance ingredients and prep time, and this one definitely fits the bill. This cake is a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n roll: the cornmeal creates a lovely homey texture, and the cranberries give a tart little kick. The ricotta is the secret ingredient that makes the cake super dense and ridiculously moist-two adjectives used only on rare (and lucky) occasions when describing cornbread.

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To top it off, I drizzled a bit of honey over the cake after pulling the it out of the oven. It just seemed right. This cake is also not too rich or too sweet, which makes it a perfect ending to a heavy holiday meal. Especially when accompanied with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Just sayin.

Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Cake

find recipe here

2 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups cranberries, divided

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round by 3-inch tall cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, salt and zest. Mix just until thoroughly combined; do not overmix. With the mixer running, slowly incorporate the egg mixture into the butter just until combined.

With the mixer on low speed, add one-half of the flour mixture to the batter and quickly mix for 5 seconds. Turn off the mixer and add the rest of the flour, the ricotta and one-half of the cranberries. Mix the remaining ingredients into the batter over low speed just until combined, being careful not to overmix. Gently pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top. Scatter the remaining cranberries over the top of the cake, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Place a loose piece of foil over the top of the cake if it starts to darken. Cool the cake on a wire rack before removing it from the pan.

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