Glazed Pinole Azul Cake (Blue Cornmeal Cake)

I don’t include many recipes that call for a very specialized ingredient, but a gift of Pinole Azul (the basis for a sweet corn drink in Mexico) led to this cake and it is worth seeking out Pinole Azul in order to make it. (It can be ordered directly from Rancho Gordo online). The cake can be served with or without a sauce (in the picture I topped it with a blueberry sauce, but a dark chocolate sauce, or fresh fruit, or even a dollop of lemon curd would also be good).

This makes a moist, slightly dense, single layer cake.


1 ½ cups of all purpose flour

½ cup pinole azul

⅔ cup sugar

3 ½ t. baking powder

½ t. salt

1 cup buttermilk

4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 large eggs

¾ t. vanilla extract

1 lemon, zested and juice saved (at least 1 t. of zest and 2 T. of juice needed)

1 to 1 ½ cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter and line the bottom with a circle of baking parchment.
  3. Melt the stick of butter in a small pan or bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Combine flour, pinole azul, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring to make certain they are thoroughly combined.
  5. In a separate bowl or large measuring pitcher, combine the buttermilk, eggs, 1 t. lemon zest, and vanilla and whisk to mix.
  6. Pour the melted butter and the buttermilk-egg mixture into the flour mixture and use a wooden spoon or spatula to gently fold together until just combined (do not stir or whisk).
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the sides begin to firm up and pull away from the pan just a little, about 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and run the blade of a table knife around the outside to make sure the cake has released from the pan.
  9. Place a baking rack or plate on top of the cake and with a towel or oven mitts for protection flip the cake over onto to rack and life to pan away. 
  10. Gently peel the parchment from the bottom (now top of the cake).
  11. Place a rack on top of the cake and flip once more so that it is now cooling right side up.
  12. Allow the cake to fully cool to room temperature.
  13. Combine the powdered sugar with 1 T. of the lemon juice and stir vigorously with a small whisk or a fork to a smooth paste. Add as much of the second T. of lemon juice as needed to get a glaze that will ooze (but not run) over the cake.
  14. When the cake is at room temperature, spoon/scrape the glaze into the center of the cake and with a spatula or large spoon swirl to push it outward toward the edge. Some should drip over onto the side at various points.
  15. Cut into wedges. Serve with or without a sauce.