Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Strawberries and Cream Filling

It seems that summer is finally in full swing. The air is warm and the sun is shining (sunshine is relegated to a couple of summer months here in Oregon ;)). It is time to start thinking about picnics and barbeques and I have the perfect cake for you to take along on these outdoor eating adventures.A-close-two-webThis beautiful cake is the perfect conduit for ripe, juicy summer fruits.  When I was growing up we often ate strawberries and Cool Whip (gasp!) over store-bought, Twinkie-like sponge cakes.  But this cake is in an entirely different league!


The real value in this cake is its incredible texture. The cornmeal presence gives it a slightly granular mouthfeel but  the cake is also very moist. Soaking the cornmeal in hot water softens the texture and provides the perfect background to build the cake upon.

A-light-top-web This cake relies on oil alone for the fat which gives it a soft, moist texture.  A couple of tablespoons of lemon zest brightens the cornmeal flavor and marries wonderfully with the sweet-tart berries and tangy cream filling.

A-two-slice-webThis cake is also sturdy without seeming heavy. The nice firm texture of this cake enables it to absorb juices from the fruit without becoming soggy or weakly structured.  Although I have used strawberries in this cake, there are endless possibilities of fruit types you could pair it with.  Last week I filled it with mango curd and drizzled it with a lemon glaze for a Mexican buffet. It was delicious!

If you prefer more filling and less cake you can bake 2/3 of the recipe in two 8-inch pans and torte each layer for a total of 4 thinner layers. Then layer with three layers of strawberries and cream filling.

Get creative and fill this delightful cake with your favorite summer fruit.

Happy baking!

Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Strawberries and Cream Filling


  • 7 ½ ounces (213 grams) cornmeal- 1 ½ cups
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (270 milliliters) boiling water
  • 6 large eggs
  • 9 ounces (255 grams) sour cream
  • 18 ¾ ounces (531 grams) sugar
  • 1 cup plus 3 ½ tablespoons (293 milliliters) corn or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) lemon zest
  • 15 ounces (425 grams) all-purpose flour-3 cups
  • 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon (4 milliliters) salt
  • For the strawberries:
  • 2 cups (½ liter) strawberries sliced or coarsely chopped
  • 2-4 tablespoons (25-50 grams) granulated sugar to taste
  • For the cream:
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 ½ ounces (100 grams) granulated sugar- ½ cup
  • 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 cups (480 milliliters) heavy whipping cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (177 C). Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with Baker’s Joy or grease and flour.
  2. In a large bowl pour boiling water over cornmeal and stir to combine; let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk in eggs, sour cream, sugar, corn oil and lemon zest. Mix well. Sprinkle in flour, baking powder and salt and whisk well to combine.
  4. Divide batter between the prepared pans and bake for 30- 35 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out to a cooling rack. Cool completely if using immediately, or wrap in two layers of plastic wrap if using later.
  5. To assemble the cake, place one cake layer down followed by half of the strawberries and one-third of the cream filling. Repeat this layering finishing with a layer of cake and the last third of the cream. Alternately, you could bake 2/3 of the recipe in two 8-inch pans and torte each layer for thinner layers of cake and more strawberries and cream filling. You may need to increase the amount of strawberries and cream filling by one-third if you wish to fill generously.
  6. For the strawberries:
  7. Combine the sliced or chopped strawberries with the sugar and allow to macerate for 20-30 minutes.
  8. For the cream filling:
  9. In a mixer bowl combine the softenend cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and salt and beat with the balloon whisk on medium-high speed until smooth and well combined.
  10. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the whipping cream. When all the cream is added, increase the mixer speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form.


18 thoughts on “Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Strawberries and Cream Filling”

    1. I use a medium grind cornmeal; usually the Alber’s brand that comes in a orange and blue box from the grocery store. A finer grind would probably work well too but coarsely ground or polenta might remain too dry and gritty tasting.

  1. Do you whip the cream first so it’s thick and fluffy before adding it to the cream cheese mix? Or add it in while it’s still runny?

      1. But won’t the whole mixture be all runny? Does it thicken up as it’s mixing? I’m so scared, as we’re always told to have the cream whipped and to fold in. But never the less, I will give it a go and pour

  2. I was raised in a kitchen where tupperware plastic cup measures and one glass pyrex reigned supreme. Since you insist on using weights and milliliters and other means of measurement foreign to me, would you be kind enough to do a blog entry about weights, measures, and the specific tools you use to accomplish said measurement with accuracy? Thank you!

    1. By no means am I speaking for Summer, but I thought I’d try to helpfully respond. The best baked goods are a result of accurate measurements. Measuring with a scale is the most accurate way to ensure you’re using the correct amount of ingredients – for example, I could pack a cup of flour pretty densely, which is going to be a lot heavier than a sifted and spoon-filled cup of flour. That difference, especially if your recipe calls for 5 cups (and that difference would therefore be compounded), will really affect your results. A kitchen scale (that shows both US and metric weights) is a pretty economical investment for your kitchen if you want to follow/mimic a recipe. I suspect the metric measurements (ml, grams) are provided out of courtesy for Summer’s global audience since the rest of the world uses the metric system. By providing this level of detail (weights in addition to measurements like teaspoons, cups), she’s helping to ensure your results are as close to, if not the same, as hers. On a personal level, measuring by weight gives me a peace of mind that I’m truly following a recipe and that my results should come out the way it was intended. A quick google search should help you convert ounces to cups if you’re ever stuck. Good luck!

    2. Hi Michelle! I too was raised with the plastic Tupperware cups. Years ago, when I started weighing ingredients, it was because it drove me crazy to dirty three measuring cups just to dole out the flour or sugar. Over the years I have found that is produces great consistency and makes baking faster. I absolutely agree with what anniebananniescakes and Judy have said on the subject. I have also discovered that when I am dividing or multiplying a recipe it can be helpful to work in ounces or grams which are altered more easily than cups or fractions thereof. I will definitely try to get an entry up on weighing. In the mean time, here is a well rated scale by EatSmart that has been on my wish list on amazon for quite some time at $25. Well worth the investment! And here is the King Arthur Flour food weight chart. It is quite comprehensive. 🙂

  3. Being a culinary instructor for baking, I love the fact that the formula or recipe is given in weights as well as measurements. This does, as anniebannanniescakes stated, make a more accurate way of achieving a wonderful results!

  4. I agree with anniebananniescakes, Michelle. Once you start baking by weights, you will probably find it’s much easier. A cup of flour weighs 4.25, usually (depending on the flour). When you bake by weights, the cup of flour can be as much as 5 ounces (if you dip into the flour container instead of aerating and lightly spooning into a cup.

    You’ll find prep MUCH faster, and less cleanup.

      1. The party will be outdoors and it is likely to be warm so I was wondering if you think a vanilla SMBC with the sliced strawberries on top would work better. As always, thanks so much for your time.

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