Lemon Pistachio Cornmeal Cake

Do you know anybody in Ann Arbor, Michigan?

I don’t either.  But I’ll be moving there in June to start my Medicine/Pediatrics residency at University of Michigan! After all that traveling and all those interviews and all that contemplating about lists and ranks and cities and hospitals…4th med students all over the country found out where they’ll be for residency for the next few years.  

For us at UT Southwestern, it was this crazy moment at 11:00am in our student center gym.  Various faculty mentors and advisors stood at the ready to hand over sealed envelopes to all of us at the same time.  Then lots of deep breaths and probably a few quick prayers and then lots of shaky fingers tearing into our envelopes.  And at 11:00 and 15 seconds, I know that I said, “WE’RE MOVING TO MICHIGAN!!!!!”  But other than that I’m not really sure what I said or did or anything.  Just a lot of the happiest kind of chaos everywhere.  Hopefully I didn’t say anything embarrassing or hug too many strangers (possible).

Lemon pistachio cornmeal cake

Now every time I see a Pure Michigan commercial on TV I get ridiculously excited because like…people go there to vacation.  And I’m gonna live there.  Let’s be honest.  No one comes to Dallas to vacation.  But people go to Michigan, where they have tart cherries and apples and lakes and trees and summers where you can go outside without dying.  We don’t have these things in Dallas.  (We have “lakes” but they are man-made and kinda gross sometimes.)

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I just.  I caaaaaan’t even.  So now I have to find a place to live and get a new drivers license and move my stuff across the country but whatevs.  At least I wake up every day knowing exactly where I’m going to be for the next 4 years (as opposed to the ridiculous uncertainty of the past couple months) and knowing that it’s a place and a program I’m truly thrilled about.

Also there’s cake because I made some.  It has lots of lemon zest and chopped pistachios and cornmeal because we always need more crunch and texture!  It’s not too sweet, but it worked perfectly as dessert for us after pizza.  It would also be perfect for a pretty springtime brunch.  You should invite me, I’ll bring the mimosas.

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Lemon Pistachio Cornmeal Cake

Makes 1 9-inch round cake

3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for topping
zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted raw pistachios, finely chopped (buy them already shelled!)
1/2 cup (= 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle position.  Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Butter the parchment and lightly flour the pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest.  Rub the sugar and the zest with your fingers until fragrant and combined.  Add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt – whisk to combine.  Stir in 3/4 cup pistachios.  Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract.
4. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture.  Use a rubber spatula to fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and sprinkle the top with extra sugar and the remaining pistachios (1/4 cup).
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cake springs back when lightly pressed.  (Check the cake at 15 minutes – if the top is browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil and continue to bake.)  Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn the cake out of the pan to cool completely.  Serve room temperature.  Cake will keep at room temperature, wrapped airtight for 1-2 days.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

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Thanks for reading, happy baking!



  1. 1. This cake looks delicious!
    2. Just sent this link to a friend. Her boyfriend matched at Ann Arbor and she’ll be moving there as well.
    Best of luck!

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