Strawberry Skillet Cornmeal Cakes
I’m so excited to share this recipe with you because it’s so simple, but so full of summer-y goodness. And because I got to use my adorable teeny cast iron skillets again! They’re so cute I want to pinch them.
I have been getting the best strawberries at the market lately. I couldn’t bear the thought of hiding them in a strawberry flavored something-or-other, cooking or mashing them beyond recognition. So I made these strawberry cornmeal cakes to show off the strawberries in all of their natural sweet goodness.
Think of it as a spin on strawberry shortcake.
It all starts with a sweet little lemon cornmeal cake base. The cornmeal adds a nice savory element and a little extra texture, but the natural sweetness of corn keeps it firmly in dessert territory. I used coconut oil and coconut milk which doesn’t add coconut flavor exactly, but does give it that certain little something that will keep people guessing. (Don’t worry coconut-haters, it doesn’t taste like coconut!)
Pile some barely-sweetened fresh berries on top and you’re 2/3rds of the way to heaven.
But it’s not strawberry shortcake without whipped cream, right? Here’s where the magic happens. I made whipped cream… without cream. That feeling? That was me blowing your mind. It turns out that you can make non-dairy whipped “cream” with full-fat coconut milk. Who knew? (Apparently half the internet. Once again, I’m late to the party.) It’s maybe a bit thicker than whipped cream, but it’s just as creamy and delightful. Even my husband likes it!
Now I know just looking at it, this dessert seems pretty predictable. But something strange happens when you take a bite. The sweet strawberries and coconut cream almost melt in your mouth, giving way to the bright lemon of the cornmeal cake. It’s both sweet and tart, creamy and crumbly. Next thing you know, you’re going back for bite after bite after bite until it’s gone.
What I’m trying to say is that I ate 3 of these by myself. I’m not sorry.
Strawberry Skillet Cornmeal Cakes
I made this recipe into 4 individual portions, but I believe it could be stretched to 6 if desired. If you make 6 servings, your cooking time may be slightly shorter. If you use tall, narrow ramekins your cook time may be longer. Cakes and strawberries can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.
1 quart fresh strawberries
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons coconut milk
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest
Dairy-free coconut milk whipped cream (recipe below)
Hull and quarter 1 quart of fresh strawberries. Toss with 1 tablespoon of sugar (or more, if your berries aren’t sweet). Set aside to macerate for at least 2 hours at room temperature, or in the fridge up to 2 days ahead.
Grease four or six 5-inch cast iron skillets or 7-ounce size ramekins with coconut oil. Set on a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, heat coconut oil just until liquid (20-30 seconds on High). Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
In a medium bowl, briskly whisk together egg, sugar until pale yellow, about 1 minutes. Add lemon juice, coconut milk, and cooled coconut oil, whisking to combine. Add flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Whisk just until incorporated. Stir in zest.
Divide batter evenly among prepared skillets/ramekins. Bake at 375°F for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. (Baking time will vary based on size & depth of your ramekins. Don’t be afraid to check for doneness early and often!) Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Cakes can be baked up to 2 days ahead, covered and stored at room temperature.
Top cakes with strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream.
Dairy-Free Coconut Milk Whipped Cream
You *must* make this with full-fat (not lite) coconut milk, and it *must* be refrigerated until the point that it separates into a white solid (coconut cream) and an almost clear liquid (coconut water). Whipped coconut cream holds up well in the fridge for several days, but it will harden and need re-whipping.
14 ounce can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated at least 12 hours
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 Tablespoon powdered sugar
Refrigerate an unopened can of full-fat coconut milk for at least 12 hours.
Remove can from the fridge gently, shaking it as little as possible. Remove the lid with a can opener. Using a spoon, gently scoop the solidified coconut cream off the top and into the bowl of a stand mixer, taking care to avoid as much of the liquid coconut water on the bottom as possible. (Discard or store coconut water for another use.)
Using the whisk attachment, whip coconut cream with a stand mixer until stiff peaks form – about 3-5 minutes. Add vanilla and powdered sugar, whip to incorporate.
Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge. May need to be re-whipped after chilling.