Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rustic Lemon Cornmeal Cake

Before my tastes started becaming more “refined”, I would never choose a lemon dessert over a chocolate one. I liked chocolate best, and that was that. But after experimenting with new recipes and broadening my tastes, I found that I actually prefer fruit desserts to chocolate ones. Of course, chocolate is still tops, but I’d rather have it in the form of a smooth, dark chocolate bar or a really good cup of cocoa. I’ve found that creamy chocolate ice cream or thick chocolate cake is both too rich and not chocolate-y enough, which is kind of a paradox.

For dessert, I’ve come to prefer fruit crisps or light cakes. This Rustic Lemon Cornmeal Cake recipe would have never excited me two years ago. I discovered it on epicurious.com, though, and it had a crazy amount of 4 star (or rather, 4 fork) reviews. I had to try it.

Let me tell you, I love it. It’s hard not to eat the whole cake. I made it for guests that were over this evening, and they loved it. I offered them half of the leftovers, but (I think out of politeness) they only accepted about a quarter of it. Now I have to restrain myself!

As I do in most desserts, I replaced half of the butter with plain low-fat yogurt, and substituted half of the all-purposed flour with whole wheat flour. You can’t even tell a difference. The cake is still light and moist (ew, I hate that word, but it’s apt), and quite lemon-y. We served it with fresh blueberries on top.

Glaze:
• 1 1/2 cups (packed) powdered sugar, sifted
• 2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon Juice

Cake:
• 3/4 cups all purpose flour
• 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
• 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
• 3/4 cup sugar (I used turbinado)
• 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup buttermilk*
• 2 large eggs
• 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
• 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, cooled
• 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt

For glaze:

Combine powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in small bowl. Stir with spoon until smooth and paste-like, adding more lemon juice by 1/2 teaspoonfuls if glaze is too thick to spread. Set aside.

For cake:

1) Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; line bottom with parchment (I use the bottom of the pan to trace a circle on the parchment paper; then I cut it out and it’s the perfect size).

2) Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl; whisk to blend. Whisk buttermilk, yogurt, eggs, lemon peel, and vanilla in small bowl. Pour buttermilk mixture and melted butter into flour mixture. Using rubber spatula, gently fold liquids into flour mixture until just blended (do not stir). Scrape batter into pan; spread evenly.

3) Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and cake pulls away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes.

4) Immediately run knife around sides of cake. Place rack atop cake in pan. Using oven mitts, hold pan and rack firmly together and invert cake onto rack. Remove pan from cake. Place another rack on bottom of cake; invert 1 more time so that cake is top side up.

5) Stir glaze until blended. While cake is still very hot, drop glaze by tablespoonfuls onto cake; spread to within 1/2 inch of edge (some glaze may drip down sides of cake). Cool completely. Serve with berries of your choice.

*For buttermilk, you can combine 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar with enough milk to equal 1 cup. Let stand for 5 minutes.

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