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Lemon Polenta Cake – Gluten Free (+ Video)

It’s video time again! Well actually, it’s ‘gifidio’ time, as suggested by a reader – Angsthase!
There are tonnes of nice syrupy action shots make you hungry! (watch out for mah newly thrifted Le Creuset saucepan!)

[Heres a direct link]

I’ve made lemon polenta cake before, but that was a cakier version which included flour in the recipe. This version, slightly adapted from Nigel Slater, is filled with butter and crunchy cornmeal to give it a crumbly, buttery texture.

I find that lemon is like spiciness where you get used to the flavour after a while so each time you make another lemon dessert, you have to keep adding more and more lemon.
This cake has no problem with that, with lemon in the cake, in a syrup brushed over the cake and with lemon icing drizzled on top. You cannot go wrong with that much lemon.
What’s even better about this cake is that it actually gets better when you leave it for a day, as long as you keep it wrapped up or in an airtight container that is. Plus it’s gluten free, which as well as making it suitable for coeliacs, it also means you can beat the crap out of the cake mixture and it doesn’t matter! No over-mixed, gummy cakes here!

Only dense, sticky, lemony heaven.

Lemon Polenta Cake

Gluten Free

slightly adapted from Nigel Slater

2 1/3 cups (5 oz / 140g) ground almonds
1/2 cup (2.7 oz / 75g) cornmeal
2/3 cup (2.7 oz / 75g) fine cornmeal (the fine cornmeal is the stuff in the glass jar at the back in the photos. It’s pretty damn fine, like almost floury in texture)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (8 oz / 220g) unsalted butter
1 cup (8 oz / 220g) sugar
3 eggs
juice and zest of 3 lemons
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup (4 oz / 110g) sugar
1 cup (3.5 oz / 100g) powdered sugar
lemon juice
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Generously butter a medium and small loaf tin.
In a medium bowl, stir together the first 5 ingredients and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add in the eggs and stir until combined.
Put the lemon juice, lemon zest and dry ingredients into the large bowl. Mix together well (you don’t have to be scared about over beating the mixture, there’s no gluten so it won’t become tough).
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, depending on the size of tin, until springy to the touch and golden brown around the edges. Let the cakes sit for 15 minutes in their tins before turning them out onto a wire rack.
For the Syrup:
About 10 minutes before the cakes are done, simmer the lemon juice and zest with the sugar in a small saucepan until it reduces down to a thick syrup. Use a long skewer to poke holes all over the surface of the warm cakes. Brush the warm syrup all over the cakes with a pastry brush.
For the icing:
Put the powdered sugar into a small bowl and add lemon juice little by little, stirring between additions, until you get a pourable consistency (you may also add some water if you run out of lemon juice). Spoon the icing over the cooled cakes and leave to set.
Store the cakes wrapped in cling-film or in an airtight container in the fridge (this is the type of cake that gets better the next day).


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  • Irene July 11, 2012 at 1:25 am

    This. Looks. So. Ridiculously GOOD! And I love your videos too, your nail polish is very pretty in this one 😉

    • izy July 11, 2012 at 10:31 pm

      thank you! I’m obsessed with nail polish ahah

  • herbivoresheaven July 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I’ve never tried polenta cake, it really intrigues me. This looks delicious, maybe I should give it a go!

  • Tiffany Wallace July 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Hi, this cake recipe sounds really nice. Do you have any suggestions on what I could use instead of fine cornmeal because I can’t buy it. More almond meal? I don’t actually need to make it gluten free so I could perhaps use flour. Would this work? Also, is this recipe for two cakes? Should I just halve it to make one cake?

    • izy July 17, 2012 at 6:30 pm

      You can either substitute the 2/3 cup fine cornmeal for 1/2 cup more coarse cornmeal or 2/3 cup more of ground almonds. I don’t really know if flour would work, but I suspect that it would change the cake quite a bit! Sure, you can make it as one cake, it doesn’t rise that much so you can fill a cake pan about 3/4 full and it should be fine; just increase the baking time by about 20 minutes.

      • Kevin October 9, 2012 at 2:55 am

        Can you pulverize dry cornmeal in a food processor to make the fine cornmeal?

        • Izy October 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm

          I honestly don’t know, I bought mine finely ground already. You could always try it out! The original recipe from Nigel Slater doesn’t actually specify which type of cornmeal you should use, so I used a blend of half finely ground and half coarse to get a slightly cakey, slightly crumbly texture. If you have no luck with the food processor thingy, then you can always substitute the finely ground cornmeal for 1/2 cup (75g) more coarse cornmeal.

  • Hmmmmm October 4, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Love this. I am going to make it this weekend! Your video is fnatastic. The song is a great addition.
    Love your vintage kitchen wares. My mom had that same mixing bowl. Now I am inspired to go thrifting.

    • Izy October 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Aww thank you so much! Haha, I’m a thrift-addict 🙂

  • Sam October 7, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    This recipe looks great. I’m allergic to almond. What do you suggest I replace that with?


    • Izy October 7, 2012 at 7:04 pm

      I have a post about making ground coconut, here:
      which I’ve found good for substituting for ground almonds in cakes before, although I haven’t tried it with this recipe. Otherwise, I would suggest using another mild nut, such as pecans or cashews, which you could grind up in a food processor until mealy.

  • Hmmmmm October 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    After shopping for the ingredients, I would like to clarify.

    Course corn meal = Polenta or Yellow Grits
    Fine Corn meal = regular corn meal found in gorcery store. You can use white or yellow.

  • crystal helton November 19, 2012 at 2:11 am

    Baked this tonight. The taste was wonderful but unfortunately the cake feel apart when I tried to turn it out onto a rack. There was no cohesion at all. Where did I go wrong do you think? I really want to make this work since it tasted so good.

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  • Linda January 11, 2013 at 4:49 am

    I love the little table cloth….it looks like something from your Grandma!

  • Rasa March 4, 2013 at 10:01 am

    LOVE the video!!!

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