Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Strawberry-Almond Cornmeal Cake

Hey there friends… long time no see! It’s been a bit — I’ve missed you! I also really missed writing, and being in the kitchen whipping up goodies. The good news is that I survived knee surgery, and even better, the surgeon said it went really well. It only took him 39 minutes to cut me open, harvest my hamstring, drill through some bones, and give me a new ACL. It still totally blows my mind that the procedure is so “simple.” The less great news is that recovery is pretty tough, and it’s going to take a lot more than 39 minutes to get better. But I’m making small strides every day, so that’s really all I can ask for.

Before having surgery, I spoke to a lot of people who’d gone through it themselves, or who knew someone that had, and everyone said it was no big deal. But guess what? THEY LIED. It’s actually really hard to recover from having bones drilled through, and pieces of your body cut out and put back together. The two biggest pieces of advice I got were (1) take your medicine before you feel the pain so you can stay ahead of it, and (2) do everything your therapist says, and be diligent about exercises and PT homework. Both have proven to be so very true. I listened to that advice, and despite severe pain through the first week, and many sleepless nights, I’ve been getting really positive feedback from my physical therapist so far. I won’t be running any races anytime soon, but I’m on the road to recovery!

Before I share this cake, I just have to say that there were a few people who made my first couple weeks of recovery time far more bearable, and for them, I am so so so grateful. My parents and brother tended to my every need for the week+ that I was home, preparing and feeding me every meal, delivering drinks and tissues and fresh ice packs and pillows and everything else I needed day and night. I got through the drug-hazed days coloring in my adult coloring book (yes, really), which was tucked into the most incredible gift basket from my friend Lucy, and playing Mario Kart on my new Wii that the world’s most thoughtful boyfriend gave me the night before surgery. Roses from my roommate dressed up my “bedside” table, which was really the living room coffee table next to the couch where I lived for days. Without them, and countless notes from family and friends, I don’t think I’d have come through so well. So big, huge, massive thank you’s to the special people in my life. I’m a lucky girl.

Strawberry Almond Cornmeal Cake - Sweetly Serendipity

So. This cake. This was my first foray back into baking since surgery, and it was so good. I got the newest issue of Bon Appetit recently (no idea who signed me up for BA, but I’ve been getting it for almost a year without paying — don’t tell!), and came across this recipe for Strawberry-Almond Cornmeal Cake. It looked delicious, so I went in search of the missing ingredients, and on a whim one day last week I made it happen.

Strawberry Almond Cornmeal Cake - Sweetly Serendipity

Before I get into the specifics, I’ll just say — this cake is delicious. Had I read the reviews about it online before making it myself, I may have done things differently, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. Using dehydrated strawberries, something I’ve never baked with before, makes for a really fun, playful look as the cake goes into the oven. It’s pretty neat (and a little weird) to be able to bake something that is naturally bright pink! (I love pink.) I set the timer for 45 minutes so I could rotate the pan halfway through (the recipe calls for 80-90 minutes total baking time), and after those 45 minutes, the strawberry crumble had browned significantly… no more pink to be found. I covered it with foil at that point to try to stop the browning, but when I took the cake out after 80 minutes, I could tell it had browned too much.

Strawberry Almond Cornmeal Cake - Sweetly Serendipity

While that fortunately didn’t impact the flavor at all, it does seem disappointing that even a bit of that cheery pink wasn’t retained in the final product. The edges and bottom of this cake also brown considerably, though if you look at the BA photo, it’s the same case there. This may sound like a complaint, because it’s not, and both the cake and the strawberries came out baked beautifully. I think I could have stood to cook the cake for about 5 minutes less (for a total of 75 minutes), but I was hooked up to my knee machine for much of the day that I baked this cake, so I was too lazy to get up and check frequently. If you give this cake a try, I’d recommend covering the cake earlier on, and starting to check for doneness after 60-65 minutes. I checked mine after about and hour and it definitely wasn’t done, but all ovens are different.

Strawberry Almond Cornmeal Cake - Sweetly Serendipity

Since I followed the recipe exactly, I’ll send you off to Bon Appetit for the full recipe. Hoping to find time between my bagillion daily quad sets and straight leg raises to get back in the kitchen some more in the coming weeks!

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