Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.
I’m dedicating today’s post to all the mothers in my life, in appreciation for all the work that they do. I truly believe that the mothering I’ve received (from my mom, as well as from many mother-figures) is one of the greatest blessings of my life. I am who I am because of them.
I hope all of you who do celebrate this holiday can somehow do so with the mothers and mother figures in your life.
For all who do not celebrate it, I hope you’ll at least stick around a few minutes longer for the food.
I knew leading up to it that I wanted to make something special for today, something that put me in the mind of springtime, as Mother’s Day always does. When I think of Spring, I automatically think of citrus, and since lemon is a favorite flavor of several mothers in my life, that’s the direction I decided to go in here.
This cake is going into the You Can’t Mess This Up category, seeing as it’s a one-bowl recipe that requires zero creaming or heavy machinery outside of a spoon, a bowl and your own two hands. With lemon juice, lemon zest AND lemon extract, it’s just about as lemon-y as can be, but I also really appreciate the inclusion of two other ingredients that really make it something special: cornmeal and rosemary.
You might think that cornmeal would make a cake crumb too coarse and unappetizing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth for this one. It’s plenty moist, but the cornmeal gives the cake’s texture a unique ‘body’ and flavor that I think really works with the lemon. The herb is a no brainer; you can’t go wrong with lemon and rosemary.
I’ll be honest, I was just as excited to make this curd as I was to bake the cake; the cake may have been an excuse FOR me to make the curd, actually. The curd is sweet from the strawberries, and yet the lemon gives it that sharp, fresh acidity that hits that area in the back of your tongue just right; you know the one I’m talking about.
The idea of making/having a dessert that was essentially, strawberry lemonade ‘flavored’ was the impetus behind this whole thing, and I have to say I was SO pleased with the results. I think once you try it, you will be too.
Lemon Cornmeal Cake & Strawberry Lemon Curd
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
- 1½ tablespoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup melted unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2½ cups whole buttermilk
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon extract
- ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, stem removed and leaves chopped
- 1 1/4 cups frozen strawberries
- 3/4 cup sugar
- zest of one lemon
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 3-4 lemons
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch, fully dissolved in a few tablespoons of water
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and sliced into 6 roughly even slices
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.
Make a well in the center of the ingredients. Pour in the vegetable oil, melted butter, honey, buttermilk, beaten eggs, lemon juice, and rosemary. Stir just to moisten.
Spit the batter between the two prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top of the cornmeal cake starts to brown and show cracks. (Cakes are done at an inner temp of 190°. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Place the strawberries in a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium high heat. Simmer the strawberries until they have some give when prodded with a silicone spatula. They don’t need to be very cooked berries, but you don’t want frozen centers either. It shouldn’t take any longer than about 5 minutes.
Add the strawberries to a blender. Then add the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and blend until thoroughly pureed. Then crack each egg into the blender and blend until just incorporated (just a quick pulse is all you need for these).
Place the mixture back in the saucepan, add the cornstarch water.
Heat gently over medium-low heat, stirring frequently with a heat safe spatula, until the mixture reaches 170°F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from heat. Add the butter and stir gently. The mixture will be fairly runny, but don’t worry, it will thicken up in the refrigerator.
Pour through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl (ideally one with a pouring spout). Transfer to jars or other airtight containers and refrigerate until set, preferably overnight.
Sharing at Fiesta Friday #431.