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Appetites: Celebrating cornmeal and dried corn delights

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Dried corn
Cookbook author Beth Dooley recommends trying local organic flint or field corn, which is grown specifically to be dried. This corn was used as part of a cooking demonstration at a cultural exchange.
Doug Parker | AP 2013

If you're lamenting the end of fresh corn season, Beth Dooley suggests you give dried corn and cornmeal a chance. 

Dooley, author of "Minnesota's Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook," recommends local organic flint or field corn, which is grown specifically to be dried. This is a hard starch corn. It's sometimes called Indian corn because Native Americans parched and dried it for hominy used in soups and stews. Additionally, it can be ground down to make corn flour and corn meal. 

"It's really wonderful stuff," she said. "It's much different than what you'd find in the stores. It's fresh tasting."

One of Dooley's favorite varieties is Mandan Bride. It's a local heritage variety that is an off-white, grayish color. 

"It makes a beautiful polenta and a terrific cornbread," Dooley said. If you'd rather stick to the traditional color of corn, try yellow flint corn. "It is that lovely buttery color yellow," she said. 

To find local cornmeal, best to check the refrigerated section of your nearest co-op. Once at home, cornmeal should be stored in the fridge or frozen.

Here are a few producers that Dooley recommends:

• Whole Grain Milling
• Heartland Mill
• Great River Organic Milling
• Native Harvest
• Riverbend Farm

Recipe: Rich Cornmeal Cake

Makes 12 servings

This cake is crumbly and rich, sweet and tangy. It's great as an afternoon snack with strong coffee or served with the cheese course at the end of a meal.

• 3/4 cup coarse cornmeal
• 3/4 cup corn flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
• 1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 1/2 cup plain whole milk or Greek-style yogurt
• 2 tablespoons lime juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch cake pan with 2-inch-high sides (i.e. springform cake pan). Dust the pan with cornmeal, tapping out excess.

Sift the cornmeal, corn flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in large bowl until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the lime peel. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping sides of bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the yogurt and lime juice. Fold in the dry ingredients in three additions until just incorporated. Transfer the batter to pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pan on rack 10 minutes. Run knife around pan sides to loosen and turn the cake out onto plate, then turn onto a rack, coarse side up. Serve warm or cool to room temperature.