Vanilla Cornmeal Cake with Roasted Strawberries | First Mess Cookbook GIVEAWAY

vanilla cornmeal cake - first mess cookbook | apt 2b baking co
vanilla cornmeal cake - first mess cookbook | apt 2b baking co
vanilla cornmeal cake - first mess cookbook | apt 2b baking co

I have been trying to Kondo-punt (thank you Molly for this phrase) a lot of cookbooks out of my life recently due to the extremely saggy shelves they are currently occupying. BUT, I have been patiently waiting for this book - The First Mess Cookbook by Laura Wright - since I had the chance to test a couple of recipes from it last year. After testing those recipes I knew that the book would be amazing, and it truly is. Every page is totally packed with inviting recipes and photography that makes me want to dive right into the page. Not that I expected anything less from Laura. 

There is a lot of noise online, but  Laura's voice always breaks through. Hers is one of the blogs that I have read and enjoyed most consistently in my many years of blogging, and her table is the one that I most often find myself wishing I had a seat. I'm not vegan by any stretch, but Laura's recipes are always SO approachable and I always appreciate her no-nonsense/no judgement approach to plant-based eating and cooking which she has perfectly translated to this book.

I love a cornmeal cake, and this one sweetened with maple syrup and topped with roasted strawberries was so simple to make and so satisfying. The recipe calls for it to be made in a round cake plan, but I was feeling the slices and baked it in a 4x10-inch loaf pan instead. Then, I ate slices of cake with my coffee every morning until it was gone.

GIVEAWAY: I am so excited to give one away a copy of this stunning book to one of you lucky folks! Just leave a comment on this post with what fruit or vegetable you are most looking forward to this Spring. I"ll pick a winner at random in a week and the book will ship after it's officially published on March 7. Open to US and Canada only, sorry international folks!

UPDATE: The winner has been notified. Check your email, it might be you! If it isn't, you should buy the book anyway ;)

A Few Announcements

Just two spots left for my workshop with Olaiya Land in Paris this Spring. Check out the details HERE


OMG Sweeter off the Vine was nominated for an IACP Cookbook Award, and it's up against Mark Bittman and America's Test Kitchen so I have zero chance of winning (hello, underdog!), but damn is it exciting. This is the big time guys, and I am so surprised and thrilled to be nominated! 

You guys also nominated it as a Community Pick in Food52's Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks, thank you! It's such an honor, and much less nerve-wracking than being in the actual bracket! 

Now let's have some cake!

Vanilla Corn Cake with Roasted Strawberries

Reprinted from The First Mess Cookbook by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright 2017, Laura Wright.

Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) cake

¾ cup (175 mL) full-fat coconut milk

1 teaspoon (5 mL) fresh lemon juice

1 cup (250 mL) cornmeal (not coarse)

1 cup (250 mL) whole spelt flour

1 teaspoon (5 mL) lemon zest

1 tablespoon (15 mL) aluminum-free baking powder

¼ teaspoon (1 mL) baking soda

1 teaspoon (5 mL) fine sea salt

½ teaspoon (2 mL) ground turmeric (optional)

½ cup + 2 tablespoons (125 mL + 30 mL) pure maple syrup

½ cup (125 mL) sunflower oil, plus extra to grease pan

1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla bean paste OR pure vanilla extract

roughly 1 quart (4 cups/1 L) whole strawberries (smaller berries are preferable)

Whipped Coconut Cream for serving (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease a 9-inch (23 cm) round cake pan with sunflower oil. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pan and press it in. Lightly grease the parchment, and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut milk and lemon juice. Let this mixture sit for 5 minutes so that the milk can curdle slightly.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, spelt flour, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and turmeric, if using.

4. Make a well in the center of the cornmeal mixture. Add the maple syrup, sunflower oil, vanilla, and coconut milk mixture. With a spatula, gently mix until you have a smooth and unified batter. Avoid overmixing.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and slide the pan into the oven. Bake the cake for 25 to 28 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely. Raise the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C).

6. Cut the strawberries into halves or quarters (depending on size), and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and roast the strawberries until they become juicy and jammy, about 20 minutes.

7. Serve slices of the corn cake with a few roasted strawberries and some Whipped Coconut Cream (page 271) if you like.

vanilla cornmeal cake - first mess cookbook | apt 2b baking co

Lemon Berry Bundt Cake from Modern Potluck + a Giveaway

lemon berry bundt cake | apt 2b baking co
lemon berry bundt cake | apt 2b baking co
lemon berry bundt cake | apt 2b baking co
lemon berry bundt cake | apt 2b baking co
lemon berry bundt cake | apt 2b baking co

Before we talk about this killer bundt, can we talk about the Olympics for a second? I freakin' LOVE the Olympics SO MUCH! One of the best perks of working from home is that I can just stream that business all day long in the background. I will watch any sport that's on - rowing, diving, synchronized diving (which is insane, btw), golf, tennis, dressage (did you know that horse dancing was a sport?!), water polo, weight lifting - seriously whatever is, on I will watch, and I will cry at every medal ceremony.

I will also cry especially hard when someone is the only person from their country to ever qualify for an event, like Indian vaulter Dipa Karmakar who barely missed a medal a few days ago. I will cry at every mention of the Refugee Olympic Team. I will cry every time someone makes history like Simone Manuel (first African American woman to win an individual gold in swimming!), Simone Biles (3 golds and 1 bronze so far in her first Olympic games, and one of the best athletes in the world!) Usain Bolt (so relaxed, so magnetic!), Wayde van Neikerk (ran a WR time from lane 8!) and Oksana Chusovitina (her 7th Olympics!) Michael Phelps (one million medals!), and there are so many more to tears come - track and field and synchronized swimming just started. I even get emotional thinking about how excited Leslie Jones is about the Olympics, and how NBC was so impressed they had to get her in on the action.

I know our world is exceptionally messy, violent, and imperfect right now and in the US we are living through a presidential election season (year?) that we cannot wait to be over, but the Olympics are giving me so much HOPE. To see people from all over the world and all walks of life (the Mexican beach volleyball player who is a PE teacher just killed me) who have worked so hard, for so long and often have sacrificed so much to achieve their dreams and manifest their destiny just fills me right up. I LOVE THE OLYMPICS.

One of the things I made while watching the Olympics last week was this super-yum lemony berry bundt  with cornmeal and ricotta from Kristin Donnelly's new book, Modern Potluck. You all know I love a bundt and this cake was a winner, bright from the berries and fruit and the combination of cornmeal and ricotta gave the cake a wonderful texture and crumb that was great the next day too.

 I am admittedly biased when I say that I love this new cookbook by Kristin, and it's because I shot the photos for it! As I was finishing up my own book project last year, Kristin called me up and asked if I would be interested in photographing her book and I jumped at the chance, and last April (and May) we assembled a crack team and shot lots of photos and ate lots of good food.

I had the great pleasure of sampling a ton of the recipes from this book on shoot days and I can truly give it a hearty two thumbs up. Hello, Bloody Mary Deviled Eggs, Aquabeet Cured Salmon, the tastiest Chinese Chicken Salad, lots of veggie dishes, desserts, and more. Modern Potluck is filled with recipes fit for any crowd, with a handy key that identifies vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free recipes, and handy tips for transporting and assembling when necessary. It is the perfect thing to have in your back pocket as we wrap up summer entertaining season and get ready for fall. Damn, I can't wait for fall. This summer has been brutally hot. 


The lovely folks at SnapWare are giving one lucky winner a Cake Keeper, perfect for carting your cake to your next potluck (or storing it for later) and a copy of Kristin's wonderful book. To enter please leave a comment below with your favorite potluck dish. Giveaway open to US residents only and entries will be open for one week. The winner will be chosen at random, announced here and alerted by email. Winner will have 48 hours to claim the prize. Good Luck!

Winner has been notified by email. Congrats to Lana!

Lemon Berry Bundt Cake with Ricotta and Cornmeal

From Modern Potluck by Kristin Donnelly

makes one bundt

Use deep colored berries like blueberries and blackberries for a purple hued glaze like the one shown, raspberries will make a pretty pink glaze. Also, I am a glaze lover, so I doubled the recipe below for some extra impact. The gorgeous pattern on top of my cake is thanks to the Nordicware 10-cup Heritage Bundt pan I used (and was asked about many times on Instagram :))  and the cake batter fit perfectly, just make sure to generously butter and flour the interior for easy release. There's nothing more frustrating than a half-stuck bundt!


2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

zest of 2 lemons

1 1/2 cups ricotta

3 large eggs

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

3 cups late summer berries - blackberries, blueberries, raspberries


1/2 cup late summer berries

1/4 cup water

1 cup confectioner's sugar

Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Generously butter and flour every crevice of a Bundt pan or spray with a baking spray that contains flour. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set a rack on top to use for cooling.

Make the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, rub the lemon zest with the sugar until the sugar is slightly moistened. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar with the 3/4 cup butter at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the ricotta and beat until incorporated. Then add the eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Add the lemon juice. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, beating well between each addition. Very gently fold in the berries. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, springs back when you touch it, and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to the prepared rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the berries with the water and cook over medium heat, using a spoon to press on the berries, until they' re broken down and have released lots of juice, about 5 minutes. Strain into a small bowl, pressing on the solids to release as much of the color as possible (it's okay if a few seeds make it through).

Sift the confectioners' sugar unto a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the berry juice and mix until a smooth glaze forms (you may need a little more juice to make a smooth glaze). When the cake is cool, drizzle the glaze on top and let it drip down the sides.

Potluck Prep: The unglazed cake can be covered and kept at room temperature overnight. Glaze within a few hours of serving.