Honey and Cornmeal Cake with Lemon and Herb Custard

May 15, 2014
1 Ratings
  • Serves 10
Author Notes

This cake is a cross between cornbread and pound cake and is perfect for dessert. Lemon thyme or lavender would work beautifully in place of sage. —Mary Catherine Tee

Test Kitchen Notes

This cake had me at Cornmeal! I love the addition of cornmeal in cakes and in pizza dough. It adds lovely depth to the flavor and gives this cake a nice crumb. Mary Tee Malmberg has created a beautifully moist cake with the addition of olive oil and the “custard” topping. While the heavy cream and honey simmers, the combination creates a beautiful chestnut color and flavor which adds another level of flavor to the cake. An added bonus to this cake is it’s simplicity.

[Editors' note: We'd recommend upping the amount of fresh herb used to make the cream topping, and we think this cake would also be great using lavender as the primary herb.] —at yvonne's table

What You'll Need
  • For the custard:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 bunch sage
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • For the cake:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 cup fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used sage)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or regular milk mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice and allowed to sit for 5 to 10 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Honey and butter, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the custard ingredients. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so the cream does not burn. Cover, turn off heat, and let cool until you're ready to use it.
  3. In a bowl, combine flours, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and fresh herbs. Whisk together until well-combined.
  4. In a stand mixer or by hand, beat eggs and honey together until a bit of foam forms on top. I did this with my stand mixer on level 6 for about 4 minutes.
  5. Once mixed, add buttermilk and olive oil.
  6. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
  7. Pour the batter into a springform pan lined with parchment paper.
  8. Now, discard the herb sprig from the cream mixture. Pour the cream mixture in the middle of the batter. Don't worry if it just sits at the top -- it will sink as it's cooking.
  9. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool the cake cool completely before serving with honey and butter.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • ehuckaby
  • Mary Catherine Tee
    Mary Catherine Tee
  • paula
I’m an old soul. My favorite Saturday morning activity is watching birds on the feeder while drinking strong, black coffee out of my favorite hand-thrown mug. My favorite place to kill time is in antique stores. The less organized the better. I like full-bodied red wines and bitter IPAs. I live for feeling the warmth of sunshine and hearing the stillness of freshly fallen snow. I can thank my stint in Alaska for that. I have salt water in my veins, having grown up in Eastern NC, and (shhh…don’t tell any of my Mainer friends this about me) I prefer blue crab over lobster.

3 Reviews

paula April 19, 2018
This recipe turned out great. I made it for someone who said she likes cakes with herbs and not too sweet. I used Thyme for the herb and steeped the custard over night. I did not have whole wheat flour so substituted almond flour for that ingredient. I lessened the honey to about 1/2 to 2/3 cup. The cake was still plenty sweet. And finally I used 1/2 butter and 1/2 coconut oil for the olive oil, (I didn't want the olive oil to dominate the subtle flavor of the thyme). I used to be a professional pastry chef and that had to be one of the best cakes I have ever made. It was a huge crowd-pleaser too.
ehuckaby August 1, 2015
This is an amazing cake, especially as it translated to gluten free flawlessly. I substituted breadfruit flour for the AP and almond meal/flour for the whole wheat. Used thyme (a bit extra) as suggested—lovely. Thank you!
Mary C. August 4, 2015
I'm so happy you enjoyed it! I'll have to try the gluten free version with breadfruit flour and almond meal. Thanks for sharing your feedback-it's oh-so appreciated!