This cake is pure insanity.

vanilla cornmeal cake with candied cherry tomatoes I

Which probably sounds ludicrous and like a load of bull because it looks… so… simple. But I swear! It’s special.

It’s like cornbread in cake form but with the thickest crumb topping that takes it over the top. This means I totally convinced Eddie to eat it by telling him it was “cornbread with a crumb topping” even though it was really cake because he quite possibly wouldn’t have eaten it if it was cake.

vanilla cornmeal cake with candied cherry tomatoes I

Turns out he ate the ENTIRE THING. He ate half of it the first night. He had a plate of stuffed peppers but was all “I only want to eat this for dinner.” The next night I was out and when I got home, there was the tiniest little sliver of cake left. Itty bitty.

P.S. he is going to be seriously annoyed right now when he learns this is cake and not “bread.”

But wait. Don’t let the tomatoes freak you out. They legit taste like CANDY. With just the teeniest hint of sweet tomato. But mostly… candy. You don’t NEED the tomatoes, but if you’re feeling adventurous they are super good. They work perfectly with the cornbread disguised as cake (I mean, I told you it would be all corn and tomatoes up in here) and even taste delicious with the whipped cream. If you want to do something crazy you can even add some flavor to your whipped cream (booze?) but I just added heavy cream to this homemade whipped cream dispenser thing that my brother bought me for Christmas a few years ago. It makes me feel like I’m working magic even though I’m doing absolutely nothing. Except eating.

vanilla cornmeal cake with candied cherry tomatoes I

I think the cherries would be perfect with regular cornbread too or even on top of chicken or steak, if you like the sweet and savory thing. I just adore these little guys and could not stop popping them. You could even candy them and shove them INSIDE the cake. Or bread. I realize they look a little funky but just try ‘em. So good.

If you want to forgo the tomatoes entirely and truly believe that I’ve lost every marble, this cake is like a yellow cake mashed with the fluffiest cornbread you can think of and some vanilla beans. Plus the crumble, which if we’re being honest, is the most important part of a cake like this. I’ll eat it all and won’t even feel bad about leaving you none.

vanilla cornmeal cake with candied cherry tomatoes I

The thing is, I have no idea if this is dessert… or breakfast… or brunch? Let’s say all three.

And lunch, because well I definitely did that accidentally on purpose.

vanilla cornmeal cake with candied cherry tomatoes I


Vanilla Cornmeal Crumb Cake with Candied Cherry Tomatoes

Yield: serves about 6

Total Time: 2 hours


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely ground cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
whipped cream for serving

crumb topping
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

candied cherry tomatoes
2 pints cherry tomatoes, quartered
6 tablespoons sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla paste and extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined, then stir in the melted butter until combined. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and pour the batter in the pan.

To make the crumb topping, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, salt and melted butter until combined. Whisk for a a good minute or two until the sugar begins to dissolve, then use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour. The mixture will be crumb-like and dry. Almost like a sludge or paste. This is what you want! Sprinkle the crumb on top of the cake.

Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool before serving, then serve with the candied tomatoes and whipped cream.

candied cherry tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Cover a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and place the quartered tomatoes on top. Sprinkle the sugar on the tomatoes 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure to coat each tomato (and using more if necessary!). After coating I like to push them around a bit so they are almost sitting in a bed of sugar. Roast the tomatoes for 25 to 30 minutes (I do this while making the cake) then remove the pan and allow them to cool completely.

[cake adapted from bon appetit, crumb adapted from smitten]

vanilla cornmeal cake with candied cherry tomatoes I

just tryyyy it.

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52 Responses to “Vanilla Cornmeal Crumb Cake with Candied Cherry Tomatoes.”

  1. #
    Bri | Bites of Bri — June 26, 2014 @ 6:51 am

    I always love when you trick Eddie. This looks like breakfast meets dinner and dessert. I’m game!


  2. #
    Rachel Cooks — June 26, 2014 @ 7:00 am

    This is so cool, Jessica! I am loving that crumb topping and the candied tomatoes — this would be such an unexpected treat at a brunch — definitely putting this on my must-make list!


  3. #
    Cookbook Queen — June 26, 2014 @ 7:29 am

    I’m always in in crumb topping is involved. Color me intrigued.


  4. #
    Belinda@themoonblushbaker — June 26, 2014 @ 7:29 am

    Yep almost too perfect for words. You have once again developed a stunner of recipe from everyday ingredients. Love your photos here too; that crumb texture makes me want to eat it right now.


  5. #
    Molly @ Yes to Yolks — June 26, 2014 @ 7:29 am

    OMG i cannot get over the crumb on this thing!!!! It’s so thick and crumbly (redundant?) and…it just looks divine. Also love when you trick Eddie into eating things. I have to do the same thing sometimes.


  6. #
    bridget {bake at 350} — June 26, 2014 @ 7:33 am

    OK….I think I’ll have to give this a whirl. PS: I really NEED one of those whipped cream dispensers!


  7. #
    Laura @ Raise Your Garden — June 26, 2014 @ 7:35 am

    Love the cake. Love the crumb topping.

    But I think I love those candied cherry tomatoes the best! I planted over 24 cherry tomato plants this year, so yes, we get a huge crop and we share the love because our neighbors and friends are so sweet.

    But I’ve never thought to candy them before! Wow. You threw me for a tailspin. You could even just make the candied tomatoes alone just for fun, a side dish or whatever. Sweet. Literally. Thanks for the idea!


  8. #
    Lauren — June 26, 2014 @ 7:56 am

    whoa! so creative.


  9. #
    Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen — June 26, 2014 @ 8:12 am

    I am sooo intrigued by these candied cherry tomatoes. This cake looks delicious, and yay for tricking significant others into trying new foods! Sometimes you just have to put food in front of them without an explanation haha.


  10. #
    Eddie — June 26, 2014 @ 8:27 am

    You lied to me?


  11. #
    jenna @ just j.faye — June 26, 2014 @ 8:28 am

    Oh my, I love this! Such an interesting flavor combination. I need to try this.


  12. #
    Chelsea @ Gal on a Mission — June 26, 2014 @ 8:59 am

    I love a great crumb cake, especially if it contains a lot of crumbs, which this one seems to. Yum! :)


  13. #
    Karly — June 26, 2014 @ 9:13 am

    I think I’ve lost my marbles too, because this sounds amazing. Tomatoes! On my cake!


  14. #
    Tracy | Peanut Butter and Onions — June 26, 2014 @ 9:20 am

    Put crumble topping on a shoe and I’d eat it… the crumble, not the shoe.


  15. #
    Medha @ Whisk & Shout — June 26, 2014 @ 9:44 am

    Love the flavors going on here! Cornbread is my weakness… as is crumb topping… as is vanilla. So I may or may not eat this whole thing by myself fairy soon!


  16. #
    Athena @ Maple & Brick — June 26, 2014 @ 10:39 am

    I’m always overwhelmed by your creativity! This looks so incredible. There’s no discrimination with CAKE.


  17. #
    Michelle Hill — June 26, 2014 @ 11:09 am

    ok ok ok I’ll try the candied tomatoes.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe :)


  18. #
    Michelle Hill — June 26, 2014 @ 11:09 am

    ok ok ok I’ll try the candied tomatoes.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe :)


  19. #
    alicia — June 26, 2014 @ 11:13 am

    i want this. all of it. right now.


  20. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — June 26, 2014 @ 11:22 am

    I love those little cherry tomatoes and the crumb topping – I bet this was so tasty! All kinds of great textures in one! Pinned


  21. #
    Stephanie @ A Magpie in the Sky — June 26, 2014 @ 11:23 am

    WoW! I am loving this twist on sweet/savoury! candy tomatoes, yes please! This would be fun to serve at a buffet without telling people it is sweet! Or yes perfect for a brunch party with some dark coffee *drools into keyboard*


  22. #
    Michelle — June 26, 2014 @ 11:59 am

    Looks delicious, definitely want to try! Quick question though, to anyone who can answer, I’ve never seen vanilla paste…anyone know where to get it? I’m assuming it would be in the baking aisle where the regular vanilla extract is? I’ve looked at all my local grocery stores and can’t seem to spot it.

    PS) I loved Eddie’s comment…made me laugh. :-)


  23. #
    Emma @ Chick-o-bowl — June 26, 2014 @ 12:11 pm

    That is indeed very creative! I am not as adventurous though so I would have to stick with just the cake. It sounds delish!


  24. #
    ami@naivecookcooks — June 26, 2014 @ 12:31 pm

    Jessica I love it when you say I did it accidentally on purpose! Lol. Never thought of using cherries as candied cherries! Brilliant!


  25. #
    Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps — June 26, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

    The tomatoes don’t scare me at all, in fact I think I could probably pop them in my mouth like they’re jelly beans!


  26. #
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — June 26, 2014 @ 5:00 pm

    This is such a cool idea!! I love those candied intriguing!


  27. #
    Alex @ Kenzie Life — June 26, 2014 @ 5:57 pm

    The vanilla cornmeal crumb cake sounds so so amazing and I want it in my mouth now. I’d be willing to try the cherry tomatoes on it but I am a little nervous!


  28. #
    Ambra — June 26, 2014 @ 6:27 pm

    So unique! I love cooking with tomatoes when in season in both sweet and savory, just made a heirloom jam and think I will put this in my archive, thanks!


  29. #
    Sammi @Sammi Sunshine — June 26, 2014 @ 7:13 pm

    Wow, you are so right, this is insanity! It’s right up my alley also. I am a savory eater, i just can’t get enough of it. Sweets aren’t my thing. Oh man i might have to make this!


  30. #
    Carol at Wild Goose Tea — June 26, 2014 @ 9:02 pm

    I am knocked out with how thick the crumb crust is and the far out candied tomatoes. Fun! Fun! Fun!


  31. #
    Athletic Avocado — June 26, 2014 @ 9:35 pm

    This sounds great! I never would have thought to use the tomatoes as the topping! what type of texture do they have when they are candied?


  32. #
    mallory — June 26, 2014 @ 9:35 pm

    The lunch-accidentally-on-purpose is so funny to me because it pretty much happens every time I am cooking something for “tomorrow” or “later”


  33. #
    DessertForTwo — June 26, 2014 @ 10:39 pm

    I trust. I bet this is fantastic. I’m thinking of bringing it to a 4th of July cookout. Not sure exactly how to sell it by its name, so I think I’ll just slip it at the end of the buffet and watch it disappear :)


  34. #
    Emily @ Zen & Spice — June 26, 2014 @ 10:42 pm

    Wow, candied tomatoes. I’ve never heard of those before! I can’t even imagine what they would taste like… maybe like a sweet version of a sun dried tomato? Yum!


  35. #
    ANDY — June 27, 2014 @ 12:13 am

    very yummy :)


  36. #
    Millie// addalittle — June 27, 2014 @ 2:11 am

    This is so creative and looks so delicious!


  37. #
    Marcella Brukx — June 27, 2014 @ 6:24 am

    HOly shizzle! There’s not many recipes that make my chin drop anymore, but this one does! It looks so original and delicious. I’m intrigued and I will definitely be making this one.


  38. #
    LIENE — June 27, 2014 @ 7:35 am

    Oh looks so good!


  39. #
    Angel Reyes — June 27, 2014 @ 2:24 pm

    Insanity or not, I need some now!


  40. #
    Alexandra — June 27, 2014 @ 3:23 pm

    I tried this recipe for muffins and they were wonderful. I can’t wait to try them with the candied cherry tomatoes.


  41. #
    Judy P — June 28, 2014 @ 8:21 am

    It’s not crazy at all when you consider that tomatoes are really fruit !!! for real.


  42. #
    Ken Topham — July 2, 2014 @ 4:15 pm

    I read this post and decided right then and there this was one to make. It was really a gorgeous cake and peaked the curiosity of many. I certainly got the awkward looks and curled lips when I told them what it was, but the fun was in the OMG expressions that followed after some coaching to try it. I have always been able to count on Jessica to deliver awesome and interesting recipes. I like the unusual and Jessica – You delivered on this one! Thank you!


  43. #
    Emily — July 4, 2014 @ 5:13 pm

    I had this up in my browser for a while before finally deciding to make it…can’t believe I waited so long! I made it for my boyfriend and myself last night and was blown away. I think I could it for every meal ever from now on. Ok maybe that is an exaggeration…but It was so moist and I loved the flavors and the sweetness and savoriness of it all. Thanks for such an awesome recipe!


  44. #
    Rachel — July 14, 2014 @ 9:48 pm

    I cannot tell you how happy this cake made me when I saw it on Huffington Post. When I was a little girl, my super-country Arkansas granny made us a concoction she called tomato pie (not sure if it was a regional thing or just an us thing). It was white skillet cornbread crumbled and mixed with stewed tomatoes and loads of sugar. This recipe is essentially a sofisticated version of that! It swept me up into a big, warm ball of nostalgia. Thank you!


  45. #
    Rachel — July 14, 2014 @ 9:50 pm

    *i misspelled sophisticated and spellcheck let me do it so now I want to sink into the earth and disappear. Eek!



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