Lemon Coriander Cornmeal Cake

A cake covered in syrupy lemon slices and coriander seeds.

Kitra: It has been… *checks watch* … A while. Sorry about that.

Jordan: Look, there were just a lot of things.

We did in fact make two cakes in September which we forgot to post!

I’d argue that we didn’t forget to post them, we just kind of didn’t do it. And then life happened.

Jordan got married!

There were holidays!

Omicron!

Seasonal depression!

All of the weather in the world!

Kitra got a girlfriend and so suddenly had other weekend plans!

All our family came to town (see: wedding)!

Which is to say, there were a lot of things.

We were so, so tired. So we slept a lot and now it is cake time. Again.

We’re back, baby!

And we come tumbling back into the world on a Monday afternoon, with sludge all over the city from a brief snowstorm, and a very bold cake.

This cake is from Canelle et Vanille Bakes Simple, which I am obsessed with. It’s a bunch of delicious, slightly unusual gluten-free recipes and it has yet to find a permanent home on my cook book shelf because it’s been out pretty much constantly.

And since I had no interest in making decisions today, I was down for whatever Jordan wanted. And this is good!

The cake itself is nice and moist, like a cornbread that is sweet but not overwhelmingly so. Despite having three teaspoons of coriander in the batter, it’s not a strong flavor. I think of it as really just giving the cake a vague edge of popcorniness.

I think maybe had we forgone the very strongly flavored topping we might be getting more coriander, which is probably the direction I’d go in the future. It’s fun though! Very sticky and smells great on top.

The topping is definitely assertive. I like it, but I agree that it does overpower the cake a bit, and this cake deserves a chance to shine on its own.

This was a pretty quick cake. Despite a long baking time, the whole thing was done in about 2 hours. We didn’t even have time for a cake-cooling nap.

And if you don’t make the topping, it’ll be even quicker. If you haven’t made cake yet this year, you could do much worse than this one for your first.

A lemon-covered cake with a slice removed and resting on a plate.

Lemon Coriander Cornmeal Cake

Adapted from Canelle et Vanille Bakes Simple

Notes

The original recipe specifies that you should use fine cornmeal, but we used mostly course cornmeal and enjoyed the bit of added texture. Whole coriander is pretty light, so if you only have ground coriander you might try half as much—1½ teaspoons—in the batter instead.

Jordan forgot to add the baking powder, but surprisingly we didn’t notice. It’ll be a bit fluffier as written; if you like a denser, slightly more bready cake, feel free to decrease the baking powder a bit.

As we said above, the topping is very lemony and has a solid bitter edge. We did it as written, with lemon juice in the syrup, but think it would be a little more subtle without so the version below uses water instead. If you can find Meyer lemons, those would probably mellow it out even more. If you’d like to change up the topping altogether, a basic lemon glaze (maybe with a bit of honey mixed in) would be great here.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 4 teaspoons whole coriander seeds, divided
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks, 170g) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (105) brown rice flour
  • ½ cup (60g) tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour)
  • ½ cup (60g) cornmeal (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the topping

  • 2 lemons
  • ½ cup (180g) honey
  • ¼ cup water

Preheat your oven to 350°. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a small pan, toast the coriander seeds over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until they start to smell slightly like popcorn. Immediately transfer them to another bowl or they’ll continue cooking, even if you pull the pan off the heat. Once cool, grind 3 teaspoons of the seeds to a fine powder using spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Lightly break up the remaining teaspoon (they’re light enough that you can do this with your hands) and set them aside to sprinkle on top of the cake later.

Zest one or two of the lemons to get 2 teaspoons of zest. Add this to a medium bowl and set aside.

Juice one of the zested lemons until you have ¼ cup of juice. (If your lemons are on the smaller or drier side, you might need an extra half.) Set aside.

Add the sugar to the lemon zest and rub it all together so that the zest releases its oils into the sugar. Add the soft butter and whisk the whole thing together by hand until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined between each. Add the ¼ cup lemon juice and whisk together; it’ll look curdled and kind of like scrambled eggs, but this is fine.

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, tapioca starch, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Add this to the wet ingredients and whisk everything together until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the cake aside and allow to cool.

If you’re making the topping, slice the two lemons as thinly as possible and poke out any seeds. In a 10- or 12-inch shallow pan, bring the water and honey to a simmer over medium-low heat. Add the lemon slices in a single layer (or as close as possible) and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until they are very soft and lightly golden and the syrup has thickened. Use a fork to gently move the lemon slices around as needed to ensure that they cook evenly.

Put the cake on your desired serving plate/stand and gently place the lemons on top. Pour the honey syrup over top of the whole thing. Sprinkle the reserved coriander seeds over top and serve.

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