Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lemon Cornmeal Bundt Cake with Raspberries

If you think that the title I gave this cake is long, let me assure you that it could have been longer. It almost makes me wish I was the sort of person who could come up with short, cutesy names for my creations, like "Mary Sunshine Cake" or something. Alas, I am not and so we are all stuck with a long name.
Names aside, this is a really good cake. I've been thinking about incorporating cornmeal into a cake for some time now but I really wanted to avoid the dense texture that so many cornmeal-heavy cakes have. I wanted to keep a hint of the crumbly, rustic texture that cornmeal offers, though.
This recipe seems to have come out just as I imagined. It has a noticeably different texture from an entirely flour-based cake, but is still very cake-like. The best way I could describe it is to say that there is the tiniest hint of crunch in the crumb. It is moist and very tender, yet isn't heavy at all. The only thing more that you could want is flavor, and this cake has plenty of that, too.
I used buttermilk to add a bit of richness and a generous amount of lemon zest to get the lemon flavor into the cake. I happened to have some Meyer lemons, but ordinary lemon zest will work perfectly well, too. The only thing is that you really must let it sit, well-wrapped, overnight. If you don't, the cake will be good, but it will be a bit cornbread-like because the texture will be slightly more coarse on the first day. After sitting overnight, however, it is perfect.
I highly recommend this cake. Try it with blueberries instead of raspberries if you prefer, or for something with a bit more fall flavor (or if you like slightly tart desserts), try using chopped up cranberries.

Lemon Cornmeal Bundt Cake with Raspberries
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
zest of 2 lemons (about 1 tbsp, or a bit more)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups raspberries (if frozen, do not defrost)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 10-inch bundt pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Combine the vanilla extract and the buttermilk and, working in 3 or 4 additions, alternately add the flour and buttermilk to the butter mixture. Keep the mixer on low speed and make sure to end with an addition of flour (i.e. F, B, F, B, F). Stir in raspberries and pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 350F for 50-55 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Add lemon glaze at this point (see note below), while the cake is still hot. Allow the cake to cool completely, then wrap it up well and let it set overnight.
Serve the next day.

Makes 12 servings.
Note: For the glaze, I combined about 1/4 cup lemon juice with enough regualr sugar to make a thick, but somewhat runny, slurry. I drizzled this over the still-hot cake, which added a boost of lemon flavor and a slight crunch from the sugar. You can also mix lemon juice with powdered sugar to create a more traditional glaze to add after the cake has cooled.