This Lemon Polenta Cake is what I bake for every birthday, every dinner party, celebration or bake sale. It is beyond simple, my recipe never fails, and the pleasantly grainy texture of the polenta holds the sweet lemon syrup so it is moist and zingy all the way through. The denseness of the polenta and almonds means it’s far from a light and fluffy sponge, and ends up quite plain and disc-like to look at. So if its a special occasion, I like to jazz it up with a criss-cross drizzle of white chocolate and a pile of fresh raspberries in the middle.
It is completely understated to look at, but its syrupy, buttery, rubbly texture and sharp, sweet, rich flavour is the perfect marriage. This Lemon Polenta Cake recipe happens to be gluten free too, as long as you use gluten free baking powder. The baking powder can be omitted, but you’ll need to beat the mixture extremely well to compensate.
To make a large enough Lemon Polenta Cake to serve 12 people, you will need:
200g salted butter
200g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
120g medium polenta (or cornmeal)
1 teaspoon baking powder (make sure this is gluten free if that is important to you)
3 large eggs
zest of 2 large lemons (or 3 small)
For the syrup, you will need:
juice of 2 large lemons (or 3 small)
135g icing sugar
To serve (optional):
50g white chocolate melted
Handful of fresh raspberries
Crème fraîche or double cream
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/ 350°F
- Generously grease the sides of a 9 inch springform cake tin with butter
- Using a stand mixer or (furiously by hand) beat the butter and sugar together until pale
- In a separate bowl, mix together the ground almonds, polenta and baking powder, then pour in a third to the butter mixture followed by an egg and continue to beat
- Add another third of the dry ingredients and an egg, beat, then add the final third and the final egg, and beat
- Mix in the lemon zest, before pouring the mixture into the tin, and bake for 35 minutes
- You will know the cake is ready when the edges have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin. A cake tester should come out fairly clean. Allow it to cool in the tin whilst you prepare the syrup
- Boil together the lemon juice and the sugar in a small saucepan (this won’t take long so don’t take your eye off it!)
- Once the sugar has dissolved, it’s done. Whilst the cake is still warm (but not hot), prick it all over using a cake tester, and pour the warm syrup all over it. Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the tin.
- For added presentation points, melt some white chocolate and pipe or drizzle in a criss-cross pattern, allow to cool and place fresh raspberries on top. The sweetness of this cake is best complemented with the sourness of crème fraîche, but a pouring cream is also delicious.