I was a few days into my South America trip when I decided to check my work email and found this message: ”Jean, we saved a piece of lemon cake for you in the freezer. You’ll really like it.” Knowing my penchant for all things lemony, my office friends thoughtfully set aside a slice of the cake that one of our vendors’ wives made for our staff. Of course, on my first day back to work last week, I made a bee-line for the kitchen for an early morning sweet treat. Since I rarely eat breakfast and often arrive at the office hungry, the wait for my generous slice to come to room temperature on the counter seemed interminable but one bite was all it took for me to deem it worthy of anticipation indeed.
The cake was big on lemon flavor and not too sweet. I was pleased the find t0 recipe attached to the email with the baker’s note that she always adds more lemon juice and lemon zest than called for. But what caught my attention was its texture. Cornmeal lent a cornbread-like character to this otherwise light-tasting, refreshing cake and I quite liked it. I couldn’t wait to bake it myself.
I was not given the exact lemon juice and lemon zest amounts that our vendor’s wife uses in her version but I was happy with the amounts I used. This cake is ultra-lemony so feel free to use the original recipe below without my adjustments. However, it would be hard to go wrong either way. I can’t think of a better way to take advantage of citrus season (or this spring-like weather we’re having) than with this cake.
* I have not yet organized my pictures from South America so my recap will be delayed by a post or two but I will share soon…promise!
Lemon Cornmeal Cake
* Original recipe from Woman’s Day (found here)
** See step one below for using a regular-bundt pan. I used smaller moulds (image below) and a small bundt pan for this recipe and didn’t realize until later that my mini moulds have a decidedly holiday feel.
- Baking spray (cooking spray with flour) [I used regular cooking spray and dusted the pans with flour]
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest [I used zest of two regular lemons and one meyer lemon]
- 1/4 cup lemon juice [I used just under 1/2 cup, about 100 ml, using a combo of regular and meyer lemons]
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt, stirred to loosen
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract [my addition, optional]
- Additional powdered sugar for dusting, optional
- 1 cup sugar [I used 1 cup powdered sugar and scant 1/4 cup granulated sugar]
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- Heat oven to 325°F. You’ll need a 10-cup decorative tube pan or a 12-cup Bundt pan coated with baking spray [my cake looks smaller because I used mini moulds and a smaller bundt pan]. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
- In a separate bowl beat the butter, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice with a hand mixer set at medium speed until the batter is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Turn the mixer down to low and alternately beat in the flour mixture and buttermilk until the batter is smooth. Add the lemon extract and stir into the batter if using. Scrape into prepared pan; level top with spatula.
- Bake 55 to 65 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean [for smaller cakes, cooking time is 25 minutes for the smaller moulds and 30 minutes for the smaller bundt pan]. Cool cake in pan on wire rack 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the sugar glaze: Whisk glaze ingredients in a small bowl just until combined (sugar will not be totally dissolved). Invert cake from pan onto rack; place rack over a baking sheet. Brush glaze all over hot cake until absorbed (sugar crystals will be evident). Cool completely. Transfer cake to a serving plate and cover. Let cake rest several hours, or overnight, before serving. Store cake covered at room temperature up to 4 days. Cut into thin slices to serve.