Thursday, September 22, 2011

Grapes, cornmeal and olive oil together?
Not a muffin, but a cake

The recipe looked too unusual to pass up: A cake with ingredients that included cornmeal, grapes and olive oil.
   It sounded to me like a cross between a pancake and a muffin. Because it went beyond the boundaries of a usual chocolate or coffee cake, I wanted immediately to try Red Grape, Polenta and Olive Oil Cake (click for the recipe).
   But apparently the cake is unusual only to some eyes and palates such as mine. The creator of the recipe, Lauren Chattman, writes that it’s a “rustic Italian-style cake.”
   I’m glad I tried it – it was terrific. My husband took part of it to his work and it was hit.
   It’s an ideal cake to make and serve now, for two reasons. First, it uses grapes, which are in season in early fall. Second, it makes for a nice transition between the light desserts of summer and the denser desserts of late fall and winter.
   I think the cake will work well as dessert for a dinner party, but it’s equally at home with weeknight dinner.
   It’s very easy to make.
   Eggs and sugar are beat together until light in color and increased in volume. Olive oil, milk, vanilla, lemon zest (finely-grated lemon peel) and a combination of flour, cornmeal and baking powder are added and mixed in. Half of the grapes are stirred in.
   The batter is poured into a greased nine-inch springform pan and baked for 10 minutes. The remaining grapes are then scattered on top, and the cake is baked for another 40 minutes.
   After baking, the pan is left to cool for five minutes before the sides are released. After cooling completely, the cake is dusted with confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar), cut into wedges, and served.

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