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April 10, 2009 1:34 PM

My favorite cake recipe: perfect for Easter Sunday

Posted by Nancy Leson

Wednesday night was my bookclub night, and our dinner was divine as usual. For dessert, I made Cornmeal Rosemary Cake with Lemon Glaze, which is perfect for Easter dinner -- in case you were wondering what to serve for dessert on Sunday, or headed to someone's house and want to impress them with a homemade host/ess gift. OK, so the kids might not be as crazy about a cake made with rosemary and cornmeal as I am, but they won't need dessert, having already bitten the heads off their solid chocolate Easter bunnies and stuffed themselves sick with jelly beans and marshmallow Peeps:



If you own a copy of "Tom's Big Dinners," by Tom Douglas (with much help from his co-author, the divine Ms. Shelley Lance) you've got the recipe on hand. If not, go out and buy it because it's a terrific book, as I've mentioned before. I regularly make many of the recipes you'll find in it (including the Chinese-style chicken photographed in my "Last Chinese Bookclub Dinner" post), but the one I make the most is this lemony cake.

It's a bit of an undertaking since there are several steps (make the cake batter, make the lemon syrup, make the lemon glaze), but I can usually knock one out in about an hour and a half total. And most of that time, the cake's baking. I start by gathering ingredients and prepping my mise en place:



And though you're supposed to use a buttered 9-inch cake pan for baking, I use my enameled cast iron Le Creuset tarte Tatin pan, which I've never used for tarte Tatin, though I've baked this cake in it at least a dozen times:



I've tweaked the original recipe, which calls for 2/3 cup of mascarpone cheese for the cake batter. Mascarpone comes in 8-ounce containers, so what are you supposed to do with the other third of a cup? (Yeah, I know: eat it off a spoon.) My solution, after finding that the lemon glaze was a bit too runny, was to add the mascarpone to it. Next time I make the cake, I'm giving it a different tweak altogether: I've been thinking about replacing the rosemary with fresh lavender. Either way, it makes a truly impressive cake that (have I mentioned this?) is perfect for Easter, but not -- my mother would quickly point out -- for Passover:



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