By Noelle Carter
My newest favorite Santa Monica restaurant is Rustic Canyon. The pastry chef, Zoe Nathan, has created the yummiest dessert ever, cranberry orange cornmeal cake served with an elegant scoop of homemade ice cream.
I am a baker myself, so I know a fabulous cake when I taste it -- and I've never met a cranberry I didn't love. Will you please ask the chef to share this special recipe?
--Clyde Young, Brentwood
Dear Clyde: This beautifully rustic cornmeal cake has light notes of vanilla and maple, with ricotta folded into the batter just before baking for extra-moist texture. Tart scarlet cranberries and sweetly fragrant orange zest flavor this creation for a perfect fall dessert.
Cranberry orange cornmeal cake
Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Note: Adapted from pastry chef Zoe Nathan of Rustic Canyon.
2 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
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 1/4 teaspoons salt
Zest of 1 orange
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups cranberries, divided
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round by 3-inch tall cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. With the mixer running, slowly incorporate the egg mixture into the butter just until combined.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
Each serving: 354 calories; 6 grams protein; 42 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 18 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 72 mg. cholesterol; 444 mg. sodium.
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