The April issue of Bon Appetit contained this recipe for Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Blueberry Sauce, and I just had to make it-I love fruity desserts, and lemon in particular. So I made this cake, pretty much conforming to the recipe, and below you'll find my review of it. For the most part, it is a very good recipe but there are a few tweaks I'd make to improve it.
Here are the ingredients:
For the glaze:
1.5 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
For the cake:
1.5 cups flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
3.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp grated lemon peel
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, melted
For Blueberry Sauce:
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (I used frozen wild blueberries)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
pinch of nutmeg (this was not in Bon Appetit's recipe but I love blueberries and nutmeg so I added it)
pinch of salt
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl
2. Now whisk the buttermilk, eggs, lemon peel and vanilla together and pour into the dry ingredients along with the melted butter. Fold it gently until it is just blended-do not stir or whisk.
3. Pour the batter into a greased 9 inch round cake pan and pop in the oven on the center rack.
4. While the cake is baking you can make the glaze. Simply combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice, stirring vigorously until smooth.
5. Check your cake after 30 minutes have passed. Mine was still a little jiggly at that point-it took more like 40 minutes until it was done in the center.
6. Now, Bon Appetit says to flip the cake out of the pan while it is still very hot. I did that the top was kind of, um, lumpy and misshapen. That's because a bit of the cake stuck to the pan and I had to try and cram the bits back into their rightful places. I don't think this would have happened if the cake had been allowed to cool a few minutes before I tried to get it out. It was very light and fluffy just out of the oven but once it cooled, it got denser and developed a bit of a crispy crust.
7. While the cake is still warm, spread the glaze over it. Here is another problem with the Bon Appetit recipe. Does this look like enough glaze to you? It barely covered the top of the cake, leaving the sides totally glazeless. They look sad to me. Also, in the photo in the magazine, the glaze looks thick and delicious, and maybe a centimeter high. There is no way they did that with the amount of glaze prescribed in this recipe. If I were to make this again, I'd double the glaze and maybe make it a wee bit thicker so it stands up a bit more on its own.
8. Now allow the cake to cool. Bon Appetit says it has to cool completely. In my opinion, as long as you let it cool enough for the glaze to harden, you're good to go.
You can distract yourself by making the blueberry sauce at this point. Just add half the blueberries and all the other sauce ingredients to a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and it starts simmering. Then reduce the heat a bit and simmer until the berries are soft and the juice is syrupy. Make sure you stir it often-or in my case, stir obsessively while staring at it longingly.
9. Now remove from the heat and use a spoon to crush about half the berries against the side of the saucepan. It's ready now. You can serve it over the cake warm or cold.
And here is what you've been waiting for-the final, delicious end product:
Despite the few issues I had with the glaze and removing it from the pan, this cake is absolutely delicious. It is both sweet and tart, very moist, and has a nice texture from the cornmeal. The blueberry sauce pairs wonderfully with the lemon and also elevates the appearance of the dish with minimal effort.