Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lemon cornmeal cake with lemon glaze.


I must apologize in advance. There is almost no photography in this post. I know that the entire reason I most people read food blogs is to drool over the gorgeous photos and then lament over the fact that they will never not be lazy have the skill to replicate such greatness in their own kitchens. For all you voyeurs, you might as well not even read beyond the jump and get right on to the moping part.

However, to those of you who love food blogs for more than their (sometimes) stunning visuals, I really need to tell you about this cake. The first time I laid my eyes on it, it was part of Bon Appetit's slideshow that guilted you into baking something for your mother on her special day (boy, did it work on me). I could foresee exactly how it would taste - subtle and comforting with just a touch of summer. My imagination didn't fail me. This cake came out soft and moist with the texture of cornbread, not too sweet and gently brightened by lemon peel. The glaze - a paste made of nothing more than powdered sugar mixed with a couple tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, almost reminiscent of a lemon Warhead candy - gets poured and spread over the cake while it's still hot, melting and hardening once again in minutes. In fact, it looked just like the photo - isn't that always so satisfying?

We thought this cake would be awesome if it were made in layers, maybe with some lemon curd or another fruit filling in the center. The original recipe did call for a crushed blueberry sauce to go on top of it, but the price of a clamshell of blueberries made me want to cry (and I would've needed two or three). However, the cake did more than the trick in its single layer, blueberry-less glory.

I made one cake for my mother, who unbeknownst to me was not planning on taking any of it home. It was all right, though - my friends and I devoured about half of it before she even got a taste. The other cake was for my friend Anca's birthday (by the way, the theme of this blog has changed from 'bananas' to 'what I bake for my friends' birthdays'). Both of those wonderful ladies gave this cake a thumbs up - Anca told me it was the best birthday cake she'd ever had. You and me both.

Happy late Mom's Day, everyone!

Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Lemon Glaze
From Bon App├ętit

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup white sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (note: I used the tablespoon of vinegar and scant cup of milk trick to make mine)
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel (note: I got a grater just for this recipe. It also grates large shreds of cheese and slices cheese blocks. I am inordinately excited about this)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 cups (packed) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease your 9-inch round cake pan, lining it with parchment paper. (note: as always, flour and oil for me. My first cake stuck, but I was able to loosen the part from the pan and put it back together like a puzzle. No one was the wiser! My second cake barely stuck at all) 

Make your glaze in advance by mixing the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and setting it aside. It should have a pasty consistency, but if it is too thick to work with, add more juice until you get your desired consistency.

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, white sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, lemon peel and vanilla extract in a smaller bowl. Pour buttermilk mixture and melted butter into the dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula to gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Do not stir!

Scrape batter into pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. (note: ours went for just about 30 - hooray for good instructions!)

Immediately run knife around sides of the cake and remove it from the pan. (note: I allowed about five minutes of cooling time, but our cakes were still plenty hot when we took them out of the pan) Stir glaze until blended. While the cake is still hot, place tablespoonfuls of glaze atop the cake, using a knife to spread it across the surface of the cake. Some of the glaze may drip down the sides of the cake. Serve completely cooled. (note: Screw that)

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