Serves 6 to 8
With a crunchy, buttery crust, rustic texture, and just enough sweetness to transform cornbread into a festive dessert (or breakfast of champions), this cake bursts with good cheer. A dusting of coarse turbinado sugar gives the top and a pretty sheen and crackly sweetness.
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 ¼ cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, for topping
Prepare your grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire.
Meanwhile, melt the stick of butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet (you can do this on the stovetop or grill), then remove the skillet from heat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add the eggs and buttermilk and whisk until combined. Pour all but about 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into the batter, and then use a rubber spatula to stir and fold until combined.
When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, place the skillet and remaining butter on the side of the grill with no coals, close the grill, and allow the skillet to heat for 5 minutes. Place the batter bowl, cranberries, and sugar on a rimmed baking sheet to transport to the grill. Working quickly, open the grill, use the spatula to transfer the batter to the hot skillet and smooth the top. Scatter the cranberries on top of the batter, and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Close the grill, vent the grill for smoking and bake for 20 minutes. Using tongs or a towel, carefully rotate the skillet 180 degrees, close the grill and bake for another 15-20 minutes (maintaining a temperature of 350 F - 375 F), or until the edges are golden brown, the top feels springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cook in the skillet for 5-10 minutes before serving it warm, with whipped cream or ice cream.