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Lemon Cornmeal Cake

February 26, 2012

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
For the glaze
  • 1 cup sugar [I used 1 cup powdered sugar and scant 1/4 cup granulated sugar]
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

55 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2012 6:19 PM

    Gorgeous cake – I especially love the mini moulds! I have Meyer lemons on my mind as well, and am planning a dessert with them this week – I love their floral perfume.

  2. Liren permalink
    February 26, 2012 6:36 PM

    I couldn’t think of a better way to return to the office after a trip away…what a wonderful welcome, and a great incentive to get back to the daily grind! Your cake is baked to perfection, Jean!

    • March 1, 2012 5:45 PM

      Liren, thank you! I brought the cake to the office last Monday and it was just as well-received as the first one. I have our vendor’s wife to thank for the great recipe. 🙂

  3. February 26, 2012 6:38 PM

    What a lovely cake! I’m just loving this cake! Cornmeal must give it such an amazing texture!

    • March 1, 2012 5:46 PM

      Brian, thank you! The cornmeal was a nice touch–gave the cake a bit more substance and complemented the prominent lemon flavor really well. Very happy with this Woman’s Day recipe. 🙂

  4. February 26, 2012 6:42 PM

    Welcome back! What a gorgeous post! I love lemon cakes, so will have to try this one! Looking forward to seeing your travel photos, too.

  5. February 26, 2012 6:47 PM

    I love all your mini cakes…so beautiful!!!! Fabulous photography, too~

  6. February 26, 2012 7:17 PM

    Your little mini cakes are gorgeous! Lemon cornmeal cake has been on my list of recipes to try, I’ll have to give them a shot now! I love lemon desserts and the texture of the cornmeal sounds amazing!

    • March 1, 2012 6:08 PM

      Hi, Kristina. I highly recommend this recipe. I’m so glad that my office mates thought to request it from our vendor’s wife. It’s a keeper. 🙂

  7. February 26, 2012 8:13 PM

    Jean – stunning photos! Love your post and this cake looks divine. Look forward to seeing your photos from your trip!!

  8. February 26, 2012 8:26 PM

    I love lemon cakes and this one looks so delicious. You captured it so beautifully! I wish I can try your recipe but I’m having a problem looking for cornmeal. Lost in translation!

    • March 1, 2012 6:09 PM

      Hi, Rowena, thanks. Do you think polenta would be too fine compared to cornmeal? Now I’m curious if it would be a suitable substitute. Hey, I could send you some! 🙂

  9. February 26, 2012 8:45 PM

    beautiful tablescape, Jean! i love all things lemony, too. not sure about the cornmeal, but will certainly, one day, give it a try.

    • March 1, 2012 6:11 PM

      Hi, Jen! I was dubious about the cornmeal at first but I thought that since I like cornbread, this might work–and it does. Just 1/2 cup for the recipe doesn’t overwhelm the cake–it just adds interesting texture. I hope you try it. 🙂

  10. February 26, 2012 9:04 PM

    Gorgeous photos, Jean. The last one is perfect for a frame! Love cakes with cornmeal and yours looks delicious:)Can’t wait for some photos from South America. xx

  11. February 26, 2012 10:37 PM

    lovely recipe!

  12. February 27, 2012 7:54 AM

    Absolutely stunning!! Love the cake, but love your photographs more!! Citrus is always a pleasure!!

  13. February 27, 2012 8:47 AM

    This looks absolutely delicious. Would love for you to share this with us over at foodepix.com. Pictures are gorgeous.

  14. February 27, 2012 8:57 AM

    Oh man this came looks absolutely amazing!!! I’m saving this recipe to try. I think the cornmeal would make an interesting (but great) addition!

  15. February 27, 2012 9:34 AM

    I’ve really been in the mood for a lemony cake lately and this beauty would definitely hit the spot. I’m so happy I found your blog…your recipes are wonderful! (Love your design and header too — it’s perfect!)

  16. February 27, 2012 11:27 AM

    Welcome back! I can’t wait to see your pictures:-) How wonderful that you came home to a slice of lemon cake, what thoughtful coworkers! Your photos are so Spring like, I love all the bright colors and thanks for sharing this recipe!

  17. February 27, 2012 1:05 PM

    Cornmeal and citrus were born to go together. I love cornmeal in desserts… it adds such fantastic texture.

  18. February 27, 2012 2:29 PM

    Oh yummy! I never get tired of anything lemon!
    So fresh and delicious.. I love your gorgeous photos. Glad I found this blog today.

  19. February 27, 2012 2:43 PM

    you have a gorgeous blog with gorgeous photos!
    this cake looks great. i love the combination of flavors!

  20. February 27, 2012 3:49 PM

    How lovely! I love how you used the color for the photo shoot, making everything so vivid and lively! I love citrus flavor too. I don’t bake at home much because it’s simply dangerous for me to be around sweets because I can finish the entire thing (kids? no no, they may not even know I bake something! just kidding). Wish I have just one slice. Haha. =P

    • March 4, 2012 9:36 AM

      Nami, I shouldn’t be baking either but I can’t help it. This is why most of the stuff I make ends up at the office or my husband and I would eat it all! 🙂

  21. February 27, 2012 8:03 PM

    How interesting, I’ve never had a cornmeal cake. It looks simple and elegant 🙂

  22. February 27, 2012 8:16 PM

    What a lovely cake! I just know I will love this cake. Love the corn meal addition. Definitely making it soon. Maybe I’ll take it to the office to share with my coworkers. Beautiful photos as well.

  23. February 27, 2012 11:10 PM

    Such beautiful and elegant photos ! So glad to have found your site.I love citrus flavor too and it can never go wrong.

  24. February 28, 2012 3:42 AM

    This was a very easy cake to make and tasted fresh and delicious. Will definitely make this again.

  25. February 28, 2012 10:56 AM

    I love any dessert that’s flavoured with citrus, but this particular combination of lemon and cornmeal sounds particularly yummy. Sounds like I may have to try this out soon!
    BTW, I love the little mini-cakes! Maybe it’s because I’m sick of winter, but they feel more “fresh spring sunshine” than “holiday feel” to me. 🙂 Anyway, either way they’re too cute for words.

  26. February 28, 2012 1:31 PM

    lovely cake oh hope your having fun on your adventure

  27. February 28, 2012 8:37 PM

    I am loving this sunny lemony spirit uplifting post. I am in to anything citrus myself and would nothing more than a slice of lemon cake. Love the recipe and love your photographs and props.

  28. February 29, 2012 7:05 PM

    Lovely blog post, tantalizing recipe, beautiful photography. I’ll be back! I love the mini molds you used, they look quite festive.

  29. March 1, 2012 6:34 PM

    The cute little moulds and the cakes look absolutely stunning!!Great Job

  30. March 1, 2012 9:49 PM

    I am in love with the photo. So sunny .. so gorgeous! As for the cake.. i bet I will love it. I have this extra special love for anything lemony 🙂

  31. March 2, 2012 1:54 PM

    if anything goes as planned I’ll be sharing a photo of this cake over the weekend on my facebook page. planning on making it tomorrow!

  32. March 2, 2012 7:50 PM

    Wow, i know you must get tired of all of those comments saying how amazing this looks, but seriously lemon cake has never looked so good until this post! Beautiful!

  33. March 3, 2012 2:44 PM

    What a nice friend to leave cake in the freezer for you! What a great looking cake and I can smell the lemon! I’m not a big cake eater but I could really sink my teeth into this one! Beautiful pics!

  34. Cristina permalink
    March 5, 2012 10:34 AM

    Without even having tasted it yet, I know that I will love this recipe and cake. Beautiful, bright and happy post, Jean. My kinda bakin’ as I really like the use of the cornmeal and using lemons. Gonna for sure bake this up with my Meyers.

    How sweet of your coworkers to save you a piece and include the recipe too! Wish I had colleagues like that. 🙂

  35. March 16, 2012 7:30 AM

    YUM! I also have Meyer Lemons in my fridge and want to use them, this will be perfect! I’ll have to figure out how to adjust the measurements, I hear that because Meyers aren’t as tart and acidic, you won’t need as much sugar as with regular lemon desserts. Guess we’ll see what happens!

  36. March 16, 2012 7:32 AM

    PS, I LOVE the picture with the daffodils – my favorite flower! Plus the go with the cake so nicely 🙂

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