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The 5-Ingredient Martha Stewart Dessert I’ve Been Making for Over 20 Years

In the late 90s, I took a big step forward and started a private chef business. Suddenly people were ordering from me to host parties and I needed dishes that were sturdy, impressive, and didn't take too long to prepare.

Martha Stewart was the reigning queen of high-end, aspirational food, so I combed through Martha Stewart's Cookbook looking for recipes that are simple, but refined enough to impress.

Her Italian cornmeal cake practically jumped off the page to save the day. Made entirely in a food processor, the cake couldn't be simpler: no eggs to beat, no folding, no sifting.

In the introductory note, Martha describes the cake as “crumbly,” and it is. In fact, it's almost like shortbread. There is no leavening or salt in her recipe, so it has no open crumb, just a dense, crunchy texture. Like many traditional Italian desserts, there is just enough sugar in the cake to give it a sweet touch.

How to Make Martha Stewart's Italian Cornmeal Cake

To make Martha's Cornmeal Cake you will need:

  • 1 cup (125 grams) almond flour or 1 cup flaked almonds
  • 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal (not polenta)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick of cold salted butter, cut into pieces, plus 1 tablespoon to grease the pan

Simple recipes / Robin Asbell

Use a tablespoon of butter to grease a 10-inch springform pan, going only half an inch up the sides.

Add the almond flour to a food processor or grind the flaked almonds until very, very fine, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the cornmeal and mix several times to combine it with the almond flour. Then add the sugar and all-purpose flour and mix again for several seconds to combine the ingredients well.

Add the butter and mix, stopping scraping the bowl after a few seconds. The dough will start to form lumps. Stop the machine and try to press the dough. If it holds, it's ready.

Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and pat it evenly around the edges. It should be an even disk so that it cooks evenly. Chill the dough for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 400°F.

Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes. The edges and top of the cake will be golden brown. Cool the cake on a rack, then loosen the edges with a thin metal spatula and invert the cake onto a cutting board. Use a chef's knife to cut it into 12 wedges.

Tips for Making Martha's Italian Cornmeal Cake

After making this cake for over 20 years, I've learned a few tricks. The original recipe called for grinding the almonds into almond flour, but I prefer to use store-bought almond flour because it's difficult to grind the almonds as finely as they should be.

I also pat the dough into the pan, then chill it for 20 minutes so the butter is solid again, and place my leaky springform pan on a baking sheet in case some butter leaks out while baking.

The simplicity of this cake is absolutely beautiful. If you want to add a little vanilla, a few teaspoons of lemon zest, or chopped fresh rosemary, you can definitely do so. I even made this vegan cake with vegetable butter.

This cake shines when served with scoops of ice cream and dollops of sweet fruit, with sprigs of mint or shavings of lemon zest as a finishing touch. It works in all seasons and is just as compatible with spring raspberries as with citrus fruits or winter pears.

Even though it's technically a cake, you can also treat it like a cookie. For a cookie platter, you can garnish the wedges with a drizzle of melted chocolate or a very simple glaze of lemon juice and powdered sugar.

Hello everyone Marthe!

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