Leftovers are truly a staple here at the Red Ramekin kitchen. I can't start my week without making a big pot of something on Sunday night so that I can bring the leftovers to work for lunch. I bake big batches of muffins, banana bread, and granola bars and freeze them individually so that Jonathan and I can grab a quick snack whenever the urge strikes. I've even taking to saving my quart-sized yogurt containers to store all of these leftovers, because that 32-piece set of tupperware I bought a while back is really not adequate for my food storage needs. Seriously. I think there are at least five yogurt containers in my fridge right now, and that doesn't even include the one that actually contains yogurt.
But tonight I'm not writing about how to make a pot of soup that will last you the week, or how to whip up some spicy daal to have on hand when you get home from yoga and need some proper nutrition (though I just happened to have done that and would highly, highly encourage it...).
The leftovers I'm writing about are in the form of a lovely, delicate little cake that I've meaning to write about for a long, long time. And frankly, if I'd had it my way, I wouldn't be sharing the leftovers of this cake, but the fresh, baked-today version; the one that doesn't have a few slices missing or a few crumbled crumbs providing the incriminating evidence of being a day old.
I first made this rosemary grape cake several weeks ago, after having bought a sticky container of seedless Concord grapes from my beloved farmers market. Now, I know that fall baking is all about apples and pumpkins. And trust me, apples and pumpkins get plenty of attention around here. In addition to eating at least two apples a day, I've been known to get an impromptu crisp into the oven in five minutes flat. But grapes are one of those overlooked fruits that you don't hear much about when the season starts to change. It's unfortunate, really, because real grapes - not those gumdroppy ones you find in the produce section in February - are a fine treat indeed. I'm partial to scuppernongs and muscadines, but a Concord grape has this kind of genuine grapiness that you just can't find anywhere else.
So when I found my Concord grapes - seedless Concord grapes - I thought of making them into something special. I wanted a cake that was light and not too sweet; something that would go well with a cup of tea after dinner. And while I do love my simple, not too sweet cakes, I like them to have a distinctive flavor and textured crumb to prevent them from slipping into blandness. So for this cake, cornmeal and olive oil popped into mind, and from there the lemon zest and rosemary just seemed like a natural, if unorthodox, extension.
Needless to say, I baked the cake, it tasted lovely, and it even made for a great midnight snack after I'd finished cleaning up the remains of the dinner party at which I'd served it. And I wish I could have told you about it earlier, but despite all of my pre-packed lunches and ready-to-go snacks, time has been rather elusive these days. And despite my best efforts, it seems that the only time Red Ramekin has been getting lately has been the leftovers - after work, after making dinner, after yoga, after self-medicating with a leisurely gander at the Sunday Styles, I save the leftovers for my blog.
But, no matter. Leftovers are certainly not a bad thing in my book, and in fact, they often just hit the spot. Yes, it would have been nice to share my pretty grape cake with you at its most pristine, but frankly I've never been one to turn down a piece of cake, fresh from the oven or a day (or two) old. I'd even go so far as to say that, whether it's slivers of cake or slivers of nighttime just before bed, sometimes it's the leftovers that really make the whole thing worthwhile.
Rosemary Grape Cake
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c. cornmeal (polenta)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4-1/2 tsp. very finely crushed rosemary
3 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. plain yogurt or buttermilk
zest of 1/2 lemon
A couple big handfuls of seedless Concord grapes
1-2 tbs. turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
In a medium bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, rosemary, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, mix eggs with oil, yogurt, and lemon zest. Combined wet ingredients with dry ingredients and stir gently just until everything is evenly mixed. Pour batter into a greased 7-inch round cake pan. Scatter whole grapes over the cake batter, and press them down lightly. Sprinkle with a bit of turbinado sugar. Bake the cake at 375 degrees F until cake is just starting to turn golden and brown slightly at the edges, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before slicing and serving, preferably with a cup of tea.