This cake is a study in textures. It has just enough cornmeal to give it structure and a yellow tint, without weighing down the batter. It bakes up lofty and tender, with a crackly sheen on top dotted with pecans. Adapted very slightly from The New England Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, 1999) —Genius Recipes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Using an electric mixer or a food processor, cream the butter and 1 cup of the sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs, milk, vanilla, and lemon zest and process or beat until smooth. Spoon the flour mixture into the processor or bowl and pulse or beat just until the flour is incorporated. If the batter is in a food processor, transfer it to a large bowl.
Sprinkle the blueberries over the batter and gently fold them in, just until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Sprinkle with the nuts and then with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.
Bake until the nuts are deep brown and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool. (The cake can be wrapped well and stored at cool room temperature for 1 day or frozen.)
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.