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
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
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
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).