Today is an eat-a-whole-cake-alone-in-your-room-with-the-door-shut kind of day.

This cake is an eat-a-whole-cake-alone-in-your-room-with-the-door-shut kind of cake.

Am I thankful beyond belief that my recipe relaying is totally backdated and that all I have on my kitchen table is a package of marshmallows splayed out on a baking sheet that refuse to get stale in this humidity?

Yes.  Yes I am.

(Except…I really do wish the marshmallows would get stale.  Marshmallow gods.  Are you listening?  Don’t make me come up there!)


Two things.

(1) Today is the day that my boards score will be released.

My darling lovely roommate came into my room at 6AM to tell me this.

I love her. But I could strangle her right now.

If you don’t hear from me by Friday…then my score was beyond belief terrible and I’ve fled the country because my parents are about to disown me for quitting med school to become a caterer.  Or bakery-owner.  Or James Beard award-winning chef.  (We can only hope.)

Or trophy wife.  Eligible bachelors out there?  Hint hint.


(2) I’m going on a first date today with an online dating guy (my second first date this week.  Aren’t you guys proud?).

We’re meeting for drinks.  DRINKS.

What does that mean to you?  Does that mean drinks and dinner?  Does that mean drinks and maybe dinner?

And while I’m asking you rhetorical questions.  Why doesn’t anyone ever go out for cupcakes?  Or frozen yogurt? Or milkshakes (totally drinkable)?

What is so special about drinks?


Sigh.  I feel overwhelmed.

I need a cake to consume inhale.

I’m so not above stress-eating at times like this.  So. Not.

And really.  This cake would be perfect.

I made it for the 4th of July when I went to my parents’ house.  So…it was kind of like stress eating.

The cherries on top have this kind of sweet tart thing going on from the brown sugar and balsamic that they’re coated in.  Lovely.

And the cake part has a great airy yet almost crunchy texture from the cornmeal.  Not to mean the vanilla bean flecks combined with coconut milk flavor.  Which is so heavenly I could cry.

Please make this.  And eat it alone in your room.  For me.

Or, you know, I guess you could share it with your friends and family.  If you want.  (You won’t.)  That’s okay too.


Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
Serves 10, adapted from Bon Appetit via Smitten Kitchen

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 cups whole pitted fresh Bing cherries
1 1/4 cups AP flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 tsp vanilla bean paste OR vanilla extract
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. Position rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 350.  Combine 1/4 cup butter with brown sugar and vinegar in a skillet.  Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves.  Increase heat to high.  Add cherries and bring to a boil.  Set aside.

2. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Using an electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter in a separate large bowl.  Add sugar.  Beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.  Add flour mixture alternatively with coconut milk in two additions each, beating just until blended and scraping down the sides after each addition.

3. Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and beat until whites are stiff  but not dry.  Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of the egg white mix into the batter.  Fold in remaining whites in three additions.

4. Pour the cherries into a 10-inch springform pan.  Pour the batter over the cherries, spreading evenly to cover the cherries.  Cover the bottom half of the pan with aluminum foil to prevent leakage.  Bake cake until top is golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  Cool in pan, on rack, for 5 minutes.  Run a spatula around the sides to loosen.  Remove sides of springform pan.  Place a large serving platter on top of the cake, and flip over.  Remove the base of the springform pan from the top of the cake.  If necessary, rearrange any cherries that may have come unhinged.  Let cake cool at least 45 minutes.  Cut into wedges and serve.

I am submitting this to Meeta’s Monthly Mingle, which is being hosted over at Sips and Spoonfuls, the theme of which is stone fruit!  I am also submitting it to this Thursday’s Bake with Bizzy! And to – Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France CheeseRösleEmile HenryRouxbe and ManPans.


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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86 Responses to Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

  1. Kelly says:

    Oh, the cherries look so fresh and gorgeous and I love the balsamic – what a brilliant addition! Cornmeal lends such a great texture to baked goods… this looks absolutely delicious Joanne.

  2. Astra Libris says:

    Ooooh, so much I’m excited about all in one post!! 🙂 Good luck on board scores – I know you’ll do awesome!! Sending big hugs – I know it’s a super nerve-wracking time, but I’m completely confident you totally aced those scores!! Have fun on the date – yay!! 🙂 (going out for cupcakes sounds like an AWESOME date idea to me… 😉 and I’m TOTALLY in love with this cake – I’m in love with cherries, all things cornmeal/polenta (it’s the southern girl in me :-), and upside down cakes (they’re so magical) – can you tell I’ll be making this cake this weekend??!! 🙂 Thank you so much for the gorgeous recipe! 🙂

  3. Sam says:

    I’ve definitely gone on a date that started off as “drinks” and ended up as “drinks and cupcakes”. In my experience with internet dating “drinks” is just what you do on the first date. It’s a small step up from coffee, but not the commitment of an entire dinner. Just eat a little bit beforehand so you don’t end up drunk after one drink, but will be able to eat if you guys hit it off and decide to grab a bite to eat too. (Can you tell I’m no stranger to internet dating? That’s how I met D…it’s really the only way to meet people in this city).

    Also–the cake looks amazing. I’ve been on a bit of a cornmeal & corn flour kick lately. And I’m sure your board scores will be fine 🙂

  4. Oh your score is going to be AWESOME! You are brilliant both in the kitchen and in school so I know you will do great. On another note- the cake-well is like a slice of heaven. Love the cherries and how pretty they sit on top of the cake. cakes with cornmeal always have a special place in my tummy

  5. Umm Mymoonah says:

    Oh My! I couldn’t take my eyes out of this gorgeous cake, looks very yummy!

  6. I just KNOW you did great on your Boards which means no stress-eating but celebration eating instead! And I’m available any time you want to go out for frozen yogurt:-) This cake looks delicious!

  7. The cake does look amazing and you sound punchy! Relax because I know you are going to do an amazing job on your boards. The world needs more doctors like you are going to become. Have fun on your date and RELAX!

  8. My fingers are crossed for you, Joanne!

    I’ve made this cake before, and I agree, it is delicious. 🙂

  9. Claudie says:

    That is one delicious looking cake! It’d turn any day into a “stay in the room” one 🙂
    As for the drinks: I’d usually interpret this as “drinks only” unless the date was just before or around dinner time — then I’d translate it as “drinks and probably dinner, or at least some small bites”.
    And finally, about your board results: I’m sure you did great! 🙂

  10. sofia says:

    what’s special about drinks? it makes the date easier. fewer inhibitions. level of nervousness shall drop. you know these things! that’s why drinks are golden (and in my mind, delicious). i say have a snack before you leave so that the opportunity for dinner is still open, but you’re not starving. then drink up. and tell us about it tomorrow. jk, sorta. have fun!

  11. I tend to be a bit reluctant when it comes to cakes made with cornmeal, for fear of them turning out like coarse, dense cornbread… But it seems like there’s little danger of that happening with this recipe! Looks delicious, and the perfect thing for highlighting cherries as they’re at their peak.

  12. I was just looking at a cherry upside down cake the other day, and now I see this lovely one. This is a sign. I need a cherry upside down cake and soon. The balsamic sounds great!

  13. I had to see this first thing in the morning? I am having a sad cup of coffee with no cherry cake. It looks fantastic, wish I had a piece for breakfast!

  14. First of all, this looks divine! Secondly, good luck on the date! I’m with you though…why don’t people go out for dessert? I mean, helloooo, he could easily win you over by bringing you to a fabulous bakery. 😉 I am sure your boards score will be amazing!

  15. Daniel says:

    Joanne, any time you want to go out for cupcakes just say the word and I am THERE! 😉

    Dan @ Casual Kitchen

  16. The idea of combining cherries and balsamic sounds really interesting and suprising!
    I am totally in favour of cake/cupcake/dessert first date, I think that would give a much more accurate idea of how sweet and creative a guy can be… 😉

  17. Candace says:

    Good thoughts, prayers and wishing you all the best on your boards, Joanne! I know you did awesome on them! And best wishes on the date tonight! I have my first guest from Louisiana coming up tomorrow for the New England tour. I’m pretty sure that I need to make one of these in honor of her arrival!

  18. Cake looks heavenly. Pleasantly surprised to see coconut milk being used

  19. Kalyn says:

    1. The Cake is gorgeous, just gorgeous!

    2. Your brilliance is obvious, so I have no doubt you aced the boards!

    3. Good for you for getting out there in the dating world. You have a lot to offer, so set your standards high!

  20. Kalyn says:

    And as you can see, I broke my own rule and used three exclamation marks in one comment. (Hangs head in shame.)

  21. Lyndsey says:

    This does look amazing I must say…I know we’ll see you Friday with the good news. Not that being a James Beard award winning chef wouldn’t be cool, but…you know…first things first! Have fun on your date…we used to go out for coffee, and that usually meant dessert too! 🙂

  22. On the west coast, today is “Eat-a-whole-pizza-alone-in-your-living-room-before-trying-out-for-a-game-show-with-your-sister” day! Coincidence?

  23. brandi says:

    so many exciting things in this post 🙂 scores, dates, drinks, cherries. i can’t take it! maybe i just need some cake.

  24. Good luck!! I’m rooting for you.
    In my book, every day is an eat-a-whole-cake kind of day. But I don’t usually get to eat it alone. My kids make me share. Mean, isn’t it?
    This recipe looks spectacular. What a great use for a wonderful seasonal ingredient. Are you submitting to the current Whole Food’s contest?

  25. Im sure a smart girl like you knows why, people go out for DRANKS instead of milkshakes… I am also sure a smart girl like you did superbly on her board exams – so quit your stressin’!
    Im super proud of you for going out on t w o dates this week, that is awesome. And its only Wednesday… what the hell? Does this mean you will go out on a total of 6 for the week?!

    The recipe looks and sounds delicious 🙂

  26. Veronica says:

    Your description of this cake. Makes me want to make it now. I have made a similar cornmeal upside down cake with berries and I bet this one is even better. I’m sure you aced your board exams! You are one smart chica.

  27. You are going to blow the boards away!! I know it. Also, give your date a slice of this cake and I’m pretty sure he’d be yours forever. If you wanted him to be, of course. But then, you really should wait a bit before giving your cake away!


  28. Oh yum. Anything with coconut milk has got my attention, man. And good luck with your scores . . . can’t wait to hear how you did. Please do not flee the country. Or if you do, please continue blogging from your new location.

  29. I have never really fallen into the habit of stress eating … LOL. I prefer retail therapy LOL… Relax, your scores will be fine, I am certain.

  30. Gloria says:

    amazing Joanne!!! Love cherries!!! gloria

  31. Saw on Twitter earlier that you were pleased with your score. Good news and yummy cake!

  32. Mmmm I love upside-down cakes and what could be better than fresh cherries – YUM. I have faith your scores will be great and I hope the date is better than the last hehe :).

  33. That Girl says:

    I don’t think I could eat an entire bowl of cherries in a room by myself, let alone a cake!

  34. Crossing my fingers for you, although I doubt you need it. If the wit I see in your posts and comments translates to any kind of ability to take the boards well (and I obviously think it should) then you will ace them. If not, come over to my place and we will plan what you will call your bakery. Please bring this cake with you when you come.

  35. Cam says:

    wishing for the best for your scores!!! methinks you would rock as a caterer, chef or bakery owner. also methinks coming to your site makes me wish i was a better cook and i always leave hungry. this looks deelish. never thought cornmeal could look this good. p.s. have a great first date – i think going out for cupcakes is a GREAT, original idea!

  36. Maria says:

    Yum I love cherries! This sounds so addictive!

  37. Katie says:

    I’ve found that “drinks” is a way to not commit to spending more than an hour with someone – I’ve been guilty of suggesting it myself when I’m nervous!

  38. I saw this cake on SK a while ago and have been meaning to make it ever since. This just looks fabulous and seems like something I would have trouble resisting as well.

  39. Shannon says:

    Drinks = social lubrication!

    Sorry, I promise to never use that word on your blog again.


    I hope you kicked those boards ass.

  40. Lexi says:

    This cake sounds amazing–especially using coconut milk instead of regular milk. I will definitely be making a version of this when the fruit share from Stoneledge really gets underway. I suspect diced peaches would work really well…

  41. Going out for cupcakes would be so much better than drinks. Unless he’s really creepy, then you might be glad you have a drink.

    Please tell me you have a cherry pitter? 3 cups? I’d have to stick the cherry in my mouth, pit it, spit it out and use it. Might take awhile that way for 3 cups. Of course, then I could eat the whole cake as I would have sucked on all the cherries to get them pitted.

  42. Mary says:

    Your cake is gorgeous Joanne. I have excess blueberries at the moment and this would be a great way to use them. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  43. I love anything with cornmeal and I just bought a big bag of cherries! This sounds yummy!

    I’m sure you did great on the boards!

  44. Shannon says:

    LOVE this cake!!! must make. asap.

    ps- while i’m sure you ROCKED your boards, let me know when you want to move back up this way and we’ll go into the catering/baking thing together. perhaps we can get dawn on board. 🙂

    yeah, i hated getting drinks… but it might just be because i hate the whole dating thing. but props! let me know how it goes tonight!

  45. tigerfish says:

    Wish you the best, Joanne. Sweetness will follow you…after this cake 🙂

  46. It does look heavenly. I afraid that if I make this I will HAVE to eat it alone since my husband doesn’t like coconut. Hmm. I’ll pretend like I forgot. I think you already received enough dating advice, so I’ll leave my comment there.

  47. Yasmeen says:

    Wow – initially I was brought in by the fresh cherries and cornmeal. But then I was hooked by the balsamic! Looks amazing, and no worries, I’m sure you passed your boards! Might as well celebrate with another cake, no?

  48. Pam says:

    First, I hope you passed the boards with flying colors. Second, have fun on your date… I hope he is beautiful, kind, athletic, smart, and most of all, LOVES eating your cooking. Third, I could eat this cake alone in my room ANYTIME! Beautiful girl.

    Have fun tonight!!!

  49. Megan says:

    I would love to go out for cupcakes for a first date! You should get that idea rolling. 🙂

    Gorgeous cake too!

  50. Gorgeous cake! Can’t wait to hear your good news about passing, which you of course will!

  51. Amy says:

    Bing cherries! I could eat an entire bag in one day. For our first date, Paul took me to a dessert diner. True story. Is it any wonder I married him?

  52. kankana says:

    This looks so pretty. I am eating cherries non stop these days .. may as well bake something with it 🙂

  53. peachkins says:

    Cherries are very expensive here.. but I buy some just to satisfy my cravings. This cake looks great!

  54. O.K., just for you I’ll make this and eat it. Both of my sons met their ladies online–even after I told them not to. Turned out better than fine.

    I’m anxiously awaiting your board results too. Blog even if it’s the middle of the night.


  55. OohLookBel says:

    Eat-alone cake? This lovely cake won’t even hit the sides going down! I like that it’s not too high (all the better to eat you with). PS: Saw yr tweet that your board scores were good – congrats. Have a great time on your drinks date.

  56. I know! What is it with meeting for drinks and why is everybody doing it (obviously, I am feeling bitter because the drinks that I drink -coke/iced tea/sprite- don’t give me the same high as the drinks that others drink ^_^’)

  57. Reeni says:

    I’ve been wanting to make a cornmeal cake! I love this – I’m thinking blueberries!? Second first date in a week? Scary. Hope it’s going good! And I’m positive you did awesome on your boards. Oops – just saw the comment two above me – congrats!!!

  58. I hope your scores where through the roof Joanne! This cake looks crazy, crazy delicious. You can totally claim insanity as a reason for eating it in your room, alone, all in one. 🙂

  59. Anonymous says:

    soooooooooooo. what happened???? what was your score? what happened on the date? (you are very brave) and what in the world do want stale marshmallows for??

  60. That's Ron says:

    great cake! I’ll have to try an upside down cake of my own

  61. Goodluck on your date 🙂 I hope drinks turns in to some kind of meal – drinks alone can get boring – especially for a food blogger lol.

  62. Sanjeeta kk says:

    Cornmeal and cherries what a wonderful combo, Joanne! Love those deep red cherries.

  63. Kimberley says:

    Ahhhhhhh! I believe that you’ve already gone on your date. I hope that you had some awesome drinks. I think drinks just usually means drinks. Why don’t you suggest cupcakes one time? It can be like a litmus test. Also, this cake, oh. It’s rare that I get excited about cakes, but then you went and mentioned cherries and cornmeal in one breath.

  64. Dana says:

    Randy and I met for coffee because that is what you do in Seattle. But it evolved into lunch, then a bookstore visit, then a walk, then dinner, then wine at his place. So “drinks” could mean anything really. Good for you for dating! OK, so here it is. I don’t like cherry desserts. I like dessert. I like cherries. But I don’t like cherry desserts. I’m weird, what can I say.

  65. Good luck on everything this week! Finger crossed. I still have cherries from my big Whole Foods buy and although I don’t need another dessert, this one is calling to me. 😉

  66. That’s actually fingers crossed–I am using more than one for you! 😉

  67. Johanna GGG says:

    I still say I am going out for coffee – though I don’t drink coffee – does that mean I am avoiding admitting I am going out for cake – good luck with the date – shame you can’t be baking him dinner – then he would be really impressed

  68. Barbara says:

    Aren’t you loving all the cherries? I am. But pitting them is NOT a lot of fun! So tedious. Great recipe, Joanne.
    And good luck on your Board scores AND your date!

  69. tinytearoom says:

    good luck with the date Joanne. I agree. going out for drinks for a date is overrated. going out for cupcakes should be kept exclusive for our girlfriends. Perhaps going out for coffee is more appropriate… and you can bring along this cake!

  70. Looks amazingly good, but I never have bing cherries to bake with because I always eat them all! I can’t resist popping them in my mouth…ya know? But if I ever do have any left I’d love to try this! The cornmeal makes this a most interesting kind of cake, and I love that it’s made with coconut milk! 🙂

    As far as going out for drinks versus cupcakes and/or shakes…well…going out for cupcakes sounds way more fun and interesting!

    I hope your scores are what you hoped they would be. 🙂

  71. Deborah says:

    Congrats on the boards (I saw your newest post!) and the second date! 🙂 This cake looks soooo good. I somehow have a billion things of cornmeal, so this is right up my alley right about now.

  72. Nicole, RD says:

    I love cornmeal in cakes…and cherries, man…those looked awesome last week at the grocery store. I’ve been dreaming about them ever since. 😉 Save!

  73. Wow. Okay, just for you I will make this cake and eat it by myself in the bedroom with the doors closed. What a gorgeous cake! I need to go buy some cherries, stat.
    (Congrats, Doc!)

  74. I will make this. But I will share. 🙂 It sounds fabulous, and I just pitted pounds and pounds of cherries. They need a home. 🙂

  75. Cara says:

    You should totally go out for cupcakes! But then again, that might leave you wondering whether you’re supposed to eat the frozen yogurt before, or after? Hmm. True story: Ben and I met for coffee on our first date. Coffee! 6 hours later, I came home. Clearly there was more involved 🙂

  76. Lori says:

    I could try to go through and convince you of the positive aspects of eating the whole cake. I’m sure there was a serving of fruit in there. 😉 Love the idea of the balsamic in this. It looks great!

  77. Chris says:

    I’m sorry but I’m a southern boy. If I eat anything other than pineapple upside down cake, I lose my redneck card and then I can’t get into the customer lounge at Walmart.

  78. Catherine says:

    Dear Joanne, Looks absolutely delicious!!! A big spoonful of whip cream and Happiness in a plate!! Blessings, Catherine xo

  79. grace says:

    i won’t lie–i find it a terrible hassle to pit cherries, especially if they’re not sweet yet. that said, this is one gorgeous cake and one for which i might endure such a hassle. 🙂

  80. sra says:

    Those cherries look gorgeous and so does the cake.

    I go out for anything but drinks, that includes lunch, milkshake, sandwiches, chaat (a snack) and so on – it wouldn’t be a strange thing in India at all!

  81. Ummmmm, corn is good for us right? HAHA. It’s totally a healthy cake, I say eat it all! =P

  82. Joanne, you are such a hoot and a lover of life. I LOVE reading your posts and feel young again when I do. I’ll look thru the earlier posts to see about your board results. and maybe the results of the date with this guy. Have fun no matter what you choose to do ~ ~ you have so much time to live and it is totally on your side, girl!

    I almost forgot to comment on your recipe….absent-minded professor that I am! I adore cherries and this cake looks glorious! YUM-MO!!!!!

  83. Kevin says:

    That looks so good! What a great way to enjoy some cherries!

  84. Sukaina says:

    These cherries look so so tempting. I hope the board scores were good and you made somehting liek this cake to celebrate! Thanks for entering monthly mingle.

  85. What a gorgeous summer cake! And it reminds me about the cherries in my fridge that are destined for baking..

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