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Recipe by Tom Douglas. The icing for this cake is not a classic fondant, but an almost transparent powdered sugar glaze flecked with rosemary leaves and lemon zest. The rosemary is blanched first, to remove some of its pungency. For a less dressy cake, you could omit the fondant. Simply brush the cake with the lemon syrup and serve with sliced fresh figs or small bunches of grapes.
FOR THE CAKE
- 1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3⁄4 cup medium-ground yellow cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon, zest of
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2⁄3 cup mascarpone
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1⁄3 cups sugar
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted,plus more for buttering the pan
For the lemon syrup
- 1⁄2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1⁄3 cup sugar
For the lemon fondant
- 1 tablespoon rosemary (stripped from the stem, not chopped)
- 1 1⁄2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1⁄4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon, zest of
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Butter a 9-inch cake pan, line it with a circle of parchment paper, and butter the paper.
- In a bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, rosemary, zest, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, briefly whisk the mascarpone to loosen it.
- Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to combine.
- Add the sugar and whisk until smooth.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the wet ingredients, mixing until smooth.
- Stir in the butter.
- Scrape the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake until a skewer comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
- While the cake is baking, make the lemon syrup.
- Combine the lemon juice and the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.
- Remove from the heat.
- Allow the cake pan to cool on a rack for 5 minutes before unmolding.
- To unmold, run a small knife around the cake.
- Place an inverted plate over the cake pan and, protecting your hands with a kitchen towel, invert the whole thing.
- The cake should slide right out onto the plate.
- Peel off the parchment paper, then place a 9-inch cardboard circle or an inverted plate over the cake and, again, invert the whole thing.
- Remove the top plate and the cake will be right side up.
- With a wooden skewer, poke a few dozen holes all over the top of the cake.
- While the cake is still warm, brush the cake with the lemon syrup.
- Continue brushing for several minutes, giving the syrup time to sink into the cake, until you've used all or most of the syrup.
- Allow the cake to cool.
- To make the lemon fondant, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.
- Add the rosemary leaves and blanch them for one minute.
- Scoop out the rosemary leaves with a small sieve and drop them immediately into a small bowl of ice water.
- Drain, and spread the rosemary leaves on a paper towel to dry.
- In a bowl, whisk the powdered sugar, cream, and lemon juice until smooth, then whisk in the blanched rosemary and the zest.
- When the cake is completely cool, transfer it to a rack set over a baking sheet.
- (If your cake is not on a cardboard circle, use a wide spatula to transfer it.) Pour the fondant over the top of the cake and allow it to drip off the sides.
- You can gently tilt the cardboard circle or the wire rack back and forth to encourage the glaze to completely flow over the top of the cake.
- While the glaze is still wet, transfer the cake to a cake plate.
- Allow the fondant to dry, an hour or more, before serving the cake.
- (If you allow the glaze to dry before you transfer it, the glaze may crack a bit, unless you are transferring it on a cardboard circle.) Because this cake is quite moist, you can make it one day ahead.
- After the cake is brushed with the syrup, allow it to cool completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and leave it at room temperature.
- A few hours before you're ready to serve the cake, make the fondant and glaze the cake.