Lemon Cornmeal Breakfast Cake


There are only three reason why I would rip the shirt off my body in public:

1.  If a kitten were on fire and I needed to smother him, put him out, cuddle him, give him food, and make him mine forever.

2.  If I discovered a bee… a ferocious, man-eating bee, down my shirt.

3.  If a handsome young fireman needed my shirt to wipe his sweaty brow after saving a grandmother and her fluffy orange cat from the top of a burning tree.  But even then… I’d make the fireman take his shirt off first.  I have standards.

Yesterday, I ripped my shirt off in a spazzy, screaming fit on Main Street in Santa Monica.  There was no kitten nor fireman in sight.  There was a bee down my shirt.  A live bee… buzzing down my shirt.  Standing in front of a bike shop and across the street from a busy cafe, I full on FREAKED OUT and tore my shirt off my body.  There was also FREAK OUT screaming involved.   Then I spent another agonizing ten seconds trying to brush the bee off my body with the shirt I was supposed to be wearing.

Then I was just standing there… on the street… shirtless… in my ugly bra… the one that looks like my grandma’s sprotsbra.  I just stood there, holding my shirt and staring squarely at the ground… at the bee struggling to walk away… at the bee that had rendered me shirtless.  I knew that if I looked up from the ground I would be mortified times one million.

As I’m struggling with the sleeves, trying to get my shirt back on… I see a pair of feet stroll past me.  I didn’t see one of those red tipped seeing eye sticks, so this person was clearly a seeing person.  A witness.  Ok.  Carry on.

My sleeves were all wonky, I couldn’t button my shirt inside out.  I was a hot mess… so I had to take my shirt off (again!) invert the spazzy sleeves and put my shirt back on.  That’s twice that I’ve taken my top off… Enough!

I never did look up from the ground.  I never did blush.  I did, however, want to dig a whole through the concrete and tunnel home instead of putting my shirt back on and riding home.  But that’s just what I did.  And if anyone was pointing and laughing… well, I guess I can’t blame them.  I was quite the site.

Lessons were learned.  Always wear a cute bra.



In more important news, I made a lovely lemon cake.

Let me tell you about it… it’ll distract me from the humiliation.

This lemon cake is simple and unassuming.  It’s combined with cornmeal and baked up in a cast iron skillet.  It’s sort of like hearty Southern cornbread meets dainty lemon tea cake.  The cake is topped with sweet lemon glaze while it’s still warm, and the sweetness seeps into the cake itself.

What the name of this cake doesn’t tell you is that is has browned butter in it.  See?  We’re friends for life.

This is not a fancy pants dessert… that’s why I call it a breakfast cake.  Breakfast cakes don’t wear their pearls to the table… obvi.


Lemon Cornmeal Breakfast Cake

makes one 9-inch cake

recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2009

Print this Recipe!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 tablespoons lemon zest

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus one tablespoons unsalted butter, melted until browned then cooled slightly

Lemon Glaze:

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

In a 9 or 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat until browned and fragrant.  Use a potholder to grab onto the cast iron and carefully tilt back and forth so the melted butter greases the sides of the pan.  Remove browned butter from the cast iron to cool, and set the buttery cast iron aside.  That’s what we’re going to bake the cake in!

If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, simply butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.  Set aside.  Brown the butter in a skillet over the stove top and incorporate into the recipe just the same.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a small bowl, carefully whisk together eggs, buttermilk, lemon zest and butter.  Add the wet ingredients, all at once, to the dry ingredients and fold together with a spatula.  Fold until very few lumps remain.  Pour batter into the prepared buttered pan and place in the oven.

While the cake bakes, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice for the glaze.  Set aside.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.  Use a skewer or the tines of a fork to poke holes in the bake.  Sporadic holes here and there will do.  Pour over the glaze, spread evenly and let rest for about 30 minutes before serving.  This cake will last for up to 4 days, well wrapped, at room temperature.

336 thoughts on “Lemon Cornmeal Breakfast Cake

  1. Oh Joy,
    I EMPATHIZE with your bee experience- I had one of my own while on the final leg of the bike portion of my first (and only) triathalon…coming into the transition area with family cheering, boyfriend watching~ bee flies down my sports bra, I slam on the brakes, flip over my handlebars (crash, of course) and THEN rip off my shirt and part of my bra (I may have trumped you in the humiliation department). Lemon cornmeal breakfast cake sounds lovely and much less traumatic. Thank you as always for making me smile!

  2. Oh my! The same thing happened to me-when I was in the car! Thankfully, I had just pulled into a parking lot and was able to park…and the bee was a tiny little sweat bee. Did sting me, but got him out. How does a bee manage to do that? (And my car had the a/c running and the windows closed!)

    Glad you survived. The lemon cake I will try! It sounds lovely! Do you think instead of the all-purpose flour I could substitute something else to make it gluten-free? It would be fine for me, but I have many close family members who can’t tolerate gluten at all. Thanks!

  3. Oh MY. This made me laugh – very loudly. I wondered what I would have done in your shoes – maybe take my top off, but definitely swear like a fishmonger’s wife until I got the bee off! And thanks for posting this recipe. We have TWO cash iron pans, both impulse buys. Haven’t used it much apart from frying up chops and searing steak. Now I can try out this cake in it! Yay!!

  4. I’m sorry for laughing (twas a funny story), but I would do the exact same thing in that situation. Once I was driving and there was a huntsman spider climbing up my windscreen (on the inside naturally) and I shrieked, pulled into the nearest driveway which was a gas station and jumped out screaming. But I did have my clothes on ;)

    And that cake is right up my alley, I adore lemon cakes :D

  5. Oh my. I can so picture this happening to me. I once managed to be attacked by a bee and be startled so heavily that I jumped backwards, into a pond. Granted, I didn’t take off my shirt, but I am pretty sure it didn’t really matter. Everything that could have been showing was showing. Argh.

    The cake looks delicious!

  6. Oh my gosh! Joy, you are awesome! This story (while not funny at the time, I’m sure!) just made me laugh so hard…there may have been a tear or two! I only laugh because I have been there. Dang bees. However mine was not a button down shirt, it was a tshirt. A tshirt that got stuck on my sunglasses and therefore stuck on my head. Dang tight tshirts. Imagine that mess. And mine was fully observed. Oh yes. And most of them were “friends”. I put friends in quotes because their status was all in question that night after not one of them helped me because they were too busy laughing hysterically. Oh yes. Such fun.
    So, feel good that you had but one observer! and you made someone smile :D


    jk. If I had been there, I would have held up my beach towel to cover you, like if you were at the beach. Which you basically were. Just think of it that way.

  8. I was nodding in agreement to your list of reasons to take off shirt and calculating how long it would take to strip down to my bra (poofy coat, muffler, sweater…)
    And only then did I process:
    It was warm enough yesterday to be outside in one. single. layer?
    I want to relocate.

    (loved this post. sorry about the bee!)

  9. In college my roommate had a similar experience. Only it was a giant flying roach under her shirt. She was carrying groceries, so she dropped them, tore off her shirt and came running into the apartment screaming. Unfortunately we had guy friends over, so she ended up shirtless in front of them (and there was still a live roach in her wadded up shirt in the apartment). Overall, it was very traumatic. Cake would have made things better.

  10. I really appreciate when people own up to things like this. This made me laugh, mostly because I can picture myself doing the same thing.

    And I love cake for breakfast. Or any time of the day. This is just another reason why I need a cast iron skillet.

  11. I LOVE this story… hilarious! I’m very impressed you didn’t blush, because I’m positive my face would be purple. Good on you!

    I adore your blog. Please keep up the awesome posts! :)

  12. I would probably do the same if I found a bee down my shirt. There was a bumble bee in my car once, and I had to pull over and jump out as quickly as possible and wait for it to amble out on its own. I don’t mind bees, I just don’t want them to sting me!

    Oh well, that cake looks fantastic. And I love that it’s meant for breakfast.

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