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Cornmeal Almond Cake with Mandarin Orange Syrup

By October 8, 2016 Uncategorized

This simple cake has its origins in other cakes found in Italy, Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. They are typically made with flour and cornmeal or semolina, and soaked with various types of citrus or spiced honey syrups. This one is made with almond meal and cornmeal, therefore it is  suitable for gluten-free diets. I have made the original recipe a bit lighter in texture, by subbing whites for some of the whole eggs, whipping them and folding them into the batter.


milk                          8 oz.
butter                       4 oz.
fine cornmeal         1 cup
egg yolks                  2
sugar                         1 cup
egg whites                6
almond flour           1 cup
baking powder       2 tsp.
salt                            1/4 tsp.
cinnamon                1/8 tsp.
zest of two mandarin oranges – save the juice for syrup


zest of two mandarin oranges
the juice of the four mandarin oranges that you zested, plus enough orange juice to total 6 oz.
honey                         2 Tbs
sugar                          2/3 cup
ginger root                1” piece, peeled and cut in half
cinnamon                  1/4 tsp.
allspice                       1/8 tsp.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and butter and parchment-line a 9” cake pan. If you have a glass baking pan, just butter it.

Put the cornmeal in a mixing bowl. Heat the milk and butter together and gradually  pour mixture over the cornmeal, whisking to combine. Add about 1/3 of the sugar and the zest, and finally, the two egg yolks.

In a separate bowl, sift or w
isk together the almond meal, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, begin whipping the egg whites. When a foam starts to form,  add the remaining sugar and whip until mixture forms stiff peaks.

Stir the dry mixture into the cornmeal mixture. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter in three additions. The first addition will nearly collapse in to the mixture, but will loosen it up in preparation for the next two additions. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 40 minutes, or until lightly browned on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

While cake is baking, make the syrup by combining all ingredients in a pan. Give it a quick stir and cook on low/medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to steep. When cake is ready, remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. If you have bake it in a parchment-lined cake pan, you will want to invert it onto a plate. But before you do this, use a sharp knife to trim the top to make it level.Then, simply run a table knife around the edge of the pan, place a plate on top, and flip it over. Remove the parchment, prick a few holes in the top of the cake and slowly pour the syrup evenly over the top. Allow cake to rest a few minutes (if you have the impulse control) before cutting into it.

If you have baked your cake in a glass or ceramic baking dish, you can leave it there. Again, though, you’ll want to trim the top of the cake, as it will have formed a skin, preventing the syrup from soaking in. Prick a few holes with the toothpick and slowly pour the syrup over. Enjoy!

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My Favorite Mortar and Pestle

By July 26, 2016 Uncategorized

mortar and pestle

I love using this mortar and pestle for cracking hard spices like peppercorns and coriander seeds. This particular one comes from Romania, where it is known as a “piulita” (pronounced pee-u-leetza). The weight of the brass mortar packs some good cracking power when dropped onto the seeds, and the deep pestle cavity helps contain the little guys while you’re cracking them.


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