cornmeal shortcake with summer fruit


Ah, summer. My favorite time of year for more reasons that I can count (really: I don't think I or anyone can count that high), one that always tops the list is all the seasonal fruit you can find right now: berries, stone fruit, as perfect as they come. And when you combine the two? Well, it's all over for me.

I know I'm on the anti-cook-fresh-fruit campaign, and this recipe doesn't change anything. Rather than hiding the fruits' already amazing flavor with tablespoons of extraneous sugar, this simple not-too-sweet shortcake merely gives the berries and peaches a sweet little hug of enhancement.

For the shortcakes, you'll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup organic cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk organic yogurt
1 egg
1/4 cup of sugar

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, cornmeal, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. In a smaller bowl, combine the yogurt, egg and sugar. Make a small well inside your dry ingredients and add the yogurt mixture. Blend together until all the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Drop your batter (about half a cup per shortcake) onto your baking sheet. You can use crumpet rings or English muffin molds to create a rounder shortcake or just drop freely for a more rustic shape. If you use the rings, however, make sure to lightly spray the insides so that your batter doesn't stick. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While you're waiting and your kitchen is filling with the faint but lovely scent of cornbread, it's time to prep your fruit. Anything goes here: plums, peaches, apricots, pluots, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or, the classic shortcake accompaniment, strawberries. For this particular round, I went with a fresh-picked raspberries, blueberries and a few tangy-sweet peaches. Instead of sugar, I sprinkled this beautiful bowl with a dash of cinnamon: nothing else needed.

To serve, split your slightly cooled (but still mostly warm) shortcakes in half and top with a few generous spoonfuls (would ladlefuls be too extreme?) of whatever glorious fruit mixture you've dreamed up. While at this stage this dessert could easily pass for breakfast, at least in my book, the way to clearly define the after-dinner line is absolutely always ice cream. While vanilla will do just fine, you could amp up the summer-fruit theme even more by adding a scoop of strawberry.