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  • Writer's pictureTina Brand

Lemon polenta cake

In this lovely sunny wintery season of best lemons, there's nothing better to make than this bright and delicious lemon cake with polenta and almond meal. So yes, it is gluten free as well.

The beautiful friend-picked lemons came from a seaside garden and were large and bursting with juicy citrus goodness. I have to confess to not being the biggest lemon meringue pie fan; too rich and too toe curling lemony for me.

And yet I love lemons; pickles, cordial, limoncello, South Indian lemon rice, and marmalade.....

When I found this recipe some time ago, I knew I'd found the lemon cake standard. The buttery crumb, the nuttiness of the polenta grain and almond meal combined, and the zest of three whole lemons result in a zinging brightness balancing with buttery heft.

The cake is best eaten with a dollop of yoghurt or maybe a scoop of vanilla ice cream....?


  • 250g butter, softened, plus extra for the tin

  • 250g caster sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 100g polenta

  • 250g ground almonds

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 3 large lemons, zested, 1 juiced


  • 1 large lemon

  • 3 tbs caster sugar


  1. Heat the oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Butter and line the base of a 23cm springform tin. Use an electric beater to whip the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

  2. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each. Add the polenta, ground almonds and baking powder, then stir in the lemon zest and juice. Spoon into the tin and smooth the surface.

  3. Bake for about 50 minutes-1 hour until the cake is risen and golden (cover the top loosely with foil after 30 minutes to stop it browning too much). Cool in the tin.

  4. For the syrup, pare thin strips of peel from the final lemon, trim any pith and cut the peel into thin matchsticks (or use a zester).

  5. Juice the lemon and put in a small pan with the sugar and 3 tbsp water. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves then simmer for a minute. Add the sliced peel and leave to cool.

  6. Put the cake on a plate, drizzle over the lemon syrup and zest and leave to soak in.


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