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Lemon Polenta Cake



1 cup buttermilk

½ cup finely ground polenta or cornmeal

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1¼ cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1 vanilla bean

2¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

Lemon Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)

Lemon Caramel Sauce

2 cups sugar

4 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons water

12 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus zest

1 vanilla bean, split


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small saucepan, warm buttermilk over low heat until bubbles form around edges of the pan then pour over polenta or cornmeal in a small bowl. Let stand for one hour to soften.
  3. In stand mixer using paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla and beat until blended.
  4. Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl, and whisk to combine.
  5. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternating with buttermilk mixture, and beginning with dry. Mix until combined. Add batter to prepared pan, and smooth cake surface.
  6. Place pan in water bath and bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
  7. Let cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. While cake is still warm, drizzle with lemon caramel sauce.

 Lemon Caramel Sauce

  1. Pour sugar into center of a deep saucepan, and add water.
  2. Bring to a full boil a over high heat, and cook without stirring until sugar is amber-colored caramel, about 10 to 15 minutes. Swirl mixture occasionally to even out color.
  3. Carefully add lemon juice and vanilla and wait for caramel to bubble and subside. Finish with butter.
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