Cherry Cornmeal Cake with Bourbon Glaze

In the past 5 days I have:

seen Harry Potter.  Twice.

cried over Harry Potter.  At least twice.  (If you do your math correctly, you’ll realize this means I cried at some point while not watching the movie.  It’s over.  It’s sad, ok?  Don’t make fun.  Rude.)

tried to make milk, which we were out of, by mixing whipping cream with water, so I could eat cereal.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Also this desperate measure was a failure.

learned that my brother likes to shop approximately 182375 times as much as I do.  Srsly.

spray painted a dresser.  Wandered around for a full day with a spray paint on my body, which, when the spray paint is black, makes it look like you rolled around in mud.

drooled over these.  And this (sans meat).  And these.

made this.

This last thing I accomplished is really the 2nd most important thing (2nd to Harry Potter, duh, I mean, have we met??) I did, because cake is always near the top of the list.

Cake with cherries, cornmeal, brown butter, and Southern Comfort is always even nearer the top of the list.

Usually when we have lots of cherries, cherry upside down cake ensues.   Or cherry pie.  However.  Upside-down cakes force you, and I mean force you, to whip egg whites, which requires another bowl, more beaters, more cleaning, and thus, less time for me to watch HGTV.

Scratch the upside-down cake off the list.

Cherry pie requires rolling.  And no matter how foolproof your pie crust recipe is, baking a pie is always stressful.  What if the crust is soggy?!?!  The edges burnt??  blah blah blah.  No time for this worrying.  No cherry pie for us.

Don’t ask me where the cornmeal idea came from.  Really, I just love cornbread.  When I discovered I could basically eat cornmeal for dinner, in the form of polenta, I almost died of happiness.  Cornmeal is fab in desserts.  It’s like instant texture for whatever you’re making.

Also, let’s brown the butter.  This is always (I think always, don’t quote me on that) a good idea.

And finally, let’s pour bourbon over the whole thing.  Actually, let’s search the house for bourbon, realize there isn’t any (not my house ok), and pour on the Southern Comfort instead.  Well, I mean not too much.  Actually not that much at all.  But enough to get that bourbon-y flavor. Bonus points because bourbon and cherries were pretty much made for each other.

(I am 100% aware that Southern Comfort is not real, true, bourbon.  I like bourbon.  I also like Southern Comfort.  The end.)

I think instead of rum cakes, I’ll be making bourbon cakes for the holidays.  That sounds much better, doesn’t it?

This cake is simple, unassuming, and ridiculously, embarrassingly delicious.  Where does something so un-fancy get off tasting so good?  It’s tender, super moist, and sweet but not too sweet.  Serve it with ice cream, or don’t.  Serve it with iced tea or bourbon, or neither.  Serve it for dessert or dinner.  Even lunch.  Share it with your friends…or don’t.  Yeah, probs don’t.

Cherry Cornmeal Cake with Bourbon Glaze

Makes one 9-inch round cake, about 8-10 servings

For cake
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup stone ground yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (= 1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups of pitted and halved fresh sweet cherries

For glaze (the cake is delicious on its own…if you don’t want to use bourbon, you can skip the glaze or just go for a simple powdered sugar glaze)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 TBS unsalted butter
1 TBS water
1/8 cup bourbon or Southern Comfort

1. For cake – In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Continue to cook until the foam subsides and the butter turns a deep golden brown color, about 8 minutes.  Pour the butter into a shallow bowl (make sure to scrape all the little brown bits out of the pan!  You want these!).  Place the bowl in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the butter has congealed (ew, but true) on the top.  You should be able to hold the bowl sideways without anything spilling.
2. While the butter is chilling, preheat the oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle position.  Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and dust with cornmeal.  Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
4. Once the butter is through chilling, scrape it into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add both sugars and beat the mixture on medium-high speed until well combined.  (It won’t look very creamy or fluffy, don’t worry.)  Add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium-high for 1 minute after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla.
5. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined.  Mix in half of the buttermilk.  Mix in another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then the rest of the buttermilk, then the rest of the dry ingredients.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the cherries.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
6. Bake the cake until golden brown on top, about 40 minutes.  When done, the cake should spring back when pressed lightly.  Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.  While that is happening, make the glaze..
7. For glaze – In a small saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, and water.  Heat over medium-low heat until melted, then continue to heat until it starts bubbling.  Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the bourbon, stirring for about a minute to incorporate it.
8. After 10 minutes of cake-cooling, run a thin knife around the edges of the cake.  Turn it out onto a plate, then re-invert it onto a wire rack.  Place a sheet of foil underneath the rack for easy clean up.  Using a fork, poke holes in the top of the cake.  Spoon the warm glaze evenly over the surface of the warm cake.  Let the cake rest and finish cooling for about an hour before serving.  Cake will keep, wrapped tightly for a day or two.

Recipe kind of adapted from Bon Appétit via Epicurious

I hope everyone is having a fabulous week!  My first ever college roommate, Sarah, is coming to visit this week, and we will defs be baking.  Her only request for her visit is that something we bake end up on here 🙂  Thanks for reading, happy baking!



  1. oh where to start!

    I am dying DYING to see the last Harry…but find my self dragging my feet. I know I will be a crying mess because it’s over.

    As a matter of fact I am watching the last HP movie on my iPad while I am typing this comment.

    next…baking with alcohol is, well, fun.
    I made a bombed batch of wedding cookies for christmas last year and decided to try rolling them in Disorrono….I will never make them without rolling them in booze again! OH MY.

    Enjoy your visit!

  2. What a beautiful cake! I love the thought of these flavors! Now I want cake, and Harry Potter! Thank you for sharing with me tonight. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog tonight! I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

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