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When Life Gives You Lemons... Make Bread

Wait, that’s not how the saying goes! But, it seems as if the whole country is making the ultimate comfort food right now... bread!

So, it is pretty hard to find flour and yeast in the grocery stores and since I am in the baking business, I happen to have flour and yeast on hand and… shhhhh – don’t tell anyone, but I have been known to give some neighbors and relatives a few packets of yeast... and the conversation tends to get quite involved about where all the yeast is going and why there is no yeast on the store shelves… give it a google... it’s a hot topic!

But, I’m not making bread right now… I am making a Lemon Cornmeal Poppy Seed Cake with Rosemary-Lemon Syrup.

Again, I am making a cake with cornmeal. I just really love the crunch it gives to a cake and along with the poppy seeds, fresh lemon juice and rosemary... WOW – this is a definite winner!

In California, rosemary is so prevalent and used as shrubs everywhere in gardens, so I just have to walk out my door and snip some fresh rosemary, but it is readily available in your local grocery store. And rosemary is just one of those herbs that can be used in a variety of recipes…it brightens any meal and is delightfully aromatic. Add fresh sprigs to roasts, veggies, focaccia and even cocktails... it is one of my very favorite herbs.

This cake is a little involved, so I have made it easier by using The Invisible Chef’s Lemon Poppy Seed Coffee & Tea Cake. Read through the recipe and I have included a list of ingredients and kitchen items you need to gather together, at the end of the recipe.

If you have a budding pastry chef at home, now is the time to get them into the kitchen to help with this cake. Should be a nice afternoon project and you will have a really delicious and beautiful cake to serve for dessert. 

Enjoy! And, when life gives you lemons... you decide what to do with them!

Love, The Chef

Lemon Cornmeal Poppy Seed Cake with Rosemary-Lemon Syrup Recipe | The Invisible Chef

Lemon Cornmeal Poppy Seed Cake with Rosemary-Lemon Syrup

You Will Need:

    First: Infuse the Buttermilk

    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
    • ½ cup cornmeal

    In a small saucepan, combine the buttermilk and rosemary. Heat over low heat until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Pour over the cornmeal in a small bowl. Let stand for 1 hour until cornmeal softens and absorbs the buttermilk.

    Second: Make the Rosemary-Lemon Simple Syrup 

    • ⅓ cup sugar
    • ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • ⅓ cup water
    • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced

    In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, lemon juice, water and rosemary. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Let cool and then strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Set aside.

    Third: Make the Cake - You will need a lightly greased 8 or 9-inch spring form pan

    • ½ teaspoon baking soda (add baking soda to dry mix)
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest


    In the bowl of a stand mixed fitted with the flat beater, add butter, eggs and lemon zest, beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the dry cake mix alternately with the cornmeal mixture in 2 increments, mixing until combined. Mix for about another minute until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

    Bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until cake is lightly browned and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes. While the cake is still warm, pour the syrup onto the top of the cake. Unmold cake and let cool completely. Slice into wedges and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh fruit. Fresh figs are a perfect accompaniment when in season.

    Gather Together:

    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 4 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
    • 1/2 cup cornmeal
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 Tbsp grated lemon zest (be sure to zest before squeezing the juice)
    • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
    • 4 large eggs
    • A stand mixer fitted with a flat blade
    • Lightly greased 8 or 9-inch springform pan
    • A small saucepan
    • A fine-meshed sieve

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