Some recipes are inspired by a single, irresistible ingredient that I absolutely can’t pass up, like baby eggplants at the greengrocer or ripe peaches at the market.
But my favourite recipes of all are the ones that emerge full-fledged in my brain, completely unbidden, dancing through my every waking thought and haunting me in my dreams until I finally give in to temptation.
This recipe is one of those. I’m not sure how or when it started… one day, as I was doing something mundane (probably washing dishes), it started rustling around in the deepest reaches of my brain.
“Blueberry cake,” it would whisper to me. “Blueberry cake with cornmeal.”
Like Poe’s tell-tale heart, the voice may have started softly, but got louder and more persistent the more I tried to ignore it.
“Cornmeal cake,” my lips would shape soundlessly. “Yes, moist and lemony cornmeal cake.”
Then it grew bolder. I’d be at the office, trying to do my work like the good corporate worker bee that I am, but my uncooperative fingers would summon up Google searches for blueberry and cornmeal cakes instead of spreadsheets and reference documents.
“Upside down cake,” they’d type into the search field. “Blueberry upside down cake with moist, lemony cornmeal.”
After resisting the siren song for nearly a week, I finally gave in… which is why, on a disgustingly hot and muggy August evening, when I should have been doing far more important things like packing my bags for a business trip, I baked Blueberry-Cornmeal Upside Down Babycakes instead. Golden, tender, moist cornmeal cakes with a hint of honey and lemon, topped with a generous layer of wild blueberries.
And that persistent little voice? Once the first bite of cake confirmed it had been absolutely right to pester me, it uttered a soft sigh of contentment, then left me to enjoy the rest of the cake all by myself in blissful silence.
Blueberry-Cornmeal Upside Down Babycakes
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup flour
1/2 cup fine cornmeal
1 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease the cups of a 6-cup jumbo muffin tin.
In a small bowl, stir together melted butter and brown sugar. Spread over the bottom of prepared muffin cups. Top with blueberries.
In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey and eggs until combined. Stir in yogurt, vanilla extract and lemon zest.
In a separate bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Gradually beat into the wet ingredients, stirring until just barely combined.
Spoon batter onto the blueberries, distributing evenly between the muffin cups; smooth out the top and spread to the edges, working gently so as not to disturb the fruit below. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out with a moist crumb.
Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes. Once the cakelets are cooled, run a knife along the edges of each cup to loosen, then very carefully invert onto baking pan. Transfer the cakelets to serving plates, topping with any berries that may have stayed in the pan.