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Stretch those precious ingredients when baking

A Meyer lemon gives this cake a subtle flavor. Use zest from a tart lemon or two Meyers for a more pronounced lemon flavor. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Recipe: Lemon-almond cornmeal cake is comfort food

All of a sudden I'm hyper-aware of how much flour I have. Eggs and butter, too. I'm a regular baker, and during this shelter-in-place era I don't want to run out of ingredients. And I seriously don't want to try looking for them when supermarket shopping has become a health concern.

How to keep baking, then, without using everything up too quickly? I dove into my cookbooks and emerged with a treasure I'd almost forgotten I owned: "
A New Way to Bake, " a 2017 publication from Martha Stewart. The subtitle is "Classic Recipes Updated With Better-For-You Ingredients from the Modern Pantry."

These well-tested recipes use alternative flours and grains, different fats and some vegan ingredients in cakes, pies, cookies, breads and other goodies. They're not all gluten-free, and only some are vegan, but for a baker who's looking to use alternate -- and maybe more-available -- ingredients, the recipes are a gold mine.

This homey cake is based on the classic Italian olive oil-cornmeal torte. The fresh lemon provides a little spark, while the almonds and cornmeal give it a rustic texture. I used a Meyer lemon from my tiny tree, but that single sweet lemon proved a little too subtle in this recipe. So I recommend using the zest from one tart lemon or two Meyers if you really want the lemon to come through.

Served with just a sprinkle of powdered sugar, this makes a lovely breakfast cake. For dessert, fresh berries or a quick berry sauce would go beautifully with this -- blackberries or blueberries, especially. But don't ignore what you have in your larder: Lemon curd or a pool of gently warmed preserves or fruit butter would make a delicious accompaniment.

Almonds and/or almond flour, along with cornmeal, provide
the base of this easy cake.
Lemon-almond cornmeal cake
Adapted from "A New Way to Bake" by Martha Stewart
Serves 6-8


Olive oil for pan

1/2 cup milk (almond or dairy)
Finely grated zest from 1 or 2 lemons (see note above)
Juice from 1 lemon
1-1/2 cups blanched almonds, finely chopped, or 1-1/2 cups almond flour, or a combination
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
Nicely golden brown, the cake's about ready to come out of the oven.

Powdered sugar, for dusting
Berries or other garnish, optional


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. (An earlier version of this post said 350 degrees, which is still fine; the cake will brown up a little faster however.) Oil a 9-inch springform pan. In a bowl or glass measuring cup, combine milk and lemon juice; let it stand until thickened, about 5 minutes.

In food processor, pulse the lemon zest, almonds and/or almond flour and the sugar until they have an evenly fine texture. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the cornmeal, baking powder, soda and salt.

Add the oil, eggs and almond extract to the milk mixture, blending well with a whisk or fork to combine. Stir the liquid mixture into the cornmeal mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.

Powdered sugar is the final touch. Serve the cake with some
homemade jam if you like.
Let the finished cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Run a knife around the edge and unmold onto a plate. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving. Serve with berries, lemon curd, fruit sauce or other accompaniment as desired.


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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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