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
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
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.