Vibrant Lemon Polenta Cake is a delicious, elegant, gluten-free dessert. Simple and refined. The perfect way to end a meal.
This flourless cake is made with cornmeal and almond flour. Topped with a sweet and tart lemon syrup and a dusting of icing sugar. By far the best polenta cake we have ever eaten.
This Italian cornmeal cake is moist and flavourful. You will never believe how easy it is to make. It has quickly become our favourite gluten-free lemon cake recipe.
Cornmeal was something I have loved since childhood. I would often just boil some up and eat it with sour cream. I know that may sound weird, but perhaps that is the Ukrainian in me.
It was all about the savoury polenta dishes. Have you tried shrimp and grits?
I had never tried a sweet polenta dessert recipe until I made this lemon cornmeal cake. In fact, I didn’t even know you could use polenta in cakes.
RECIPE and INSTRUCTIONS for the easy polenta lemon cake are at the bottom of the post.
Both my husband and I rate lemon meringue pie at the top of our dessert list. Since making this cake, it seems like this is a very, very close second.
Lemon Cornmeal Cake Requires:
- polenta (cornmeal)
- superfine sugar (see recipe tip)
- almond flour (ground almonds)
- baking powder
- lemon zest
- lemon juice
- icing sugar
This cake recipe calls for caster sugar. In North America, we don’t have caster sugar, but what we do have is superfine sugar.
If you have ever bought this before, you know how expensive it is for a small amount. Did you know you can make it at home? Yup, all you have to do is put regular granulated white sugar into your blender and turn it into caster sugar. So much cheaper than paying the high prices at the store for this baking ingredient.
You can also do the same process for the ground almonds to make almond flour. Your blender is so useful when it comes to ingredients like this.
Of course, if you don’t have a blender, you can buy ground almonds and superfine sugar at any grocery store or Bulk Barn if you have one near you.
Making Polenta Cake
I get a lot of inspiration from celebrity chefs. Watching them on cooking shows, collecting their cookbooks and following them on social media. Nigella Lawson is a fun person to watch in the kitchen. Her version of this classic dessert sounded so good I just had to give it a try.
Simple and elegant, this is the perfect way to end a meal.
- Heat the oven and prepare a *(affiliate) springform baking pan.
- Juice the lemons using a *(affillate)citrus reamer.
- Zest the lemons with a *(affiliate)microplane.
- Combine the almonds, cornmeal, and baking powder.
- Combine the butter and sugar.
- Alternate the dry mixture with the wet mixture, adding in the eggs as you go.
- Place batter in baking pan.
- Top warm cake with lemon syrup.
Once cooled, remove the cake from the pan. Slice and enjoy. I added some icing sugar and sliced strawberries as a garnish, but honestly, this cake works perfectly as a stand-alone dessert.
Is Cornmeal The Same As Polenta?
- There can be some confusion about what polenta actually is. I grew up only knowing it as ground cornmeal.
- The truth is, polenta is actually a dish made of boiled cornmeal. In the south, it can be referred to as grits.
- It can be found in several varieties like coarse, fine, and instant. Located in the baking section or rice section.
- There is even a pre-cooked version. This can be found in a tube shape in the refrigerated section of the grocery store near the olives, dips, and specialty cheeses.
- Besides the boiled version, you can serve it grilled or baked in both savory and sweet recipes. Polenta fries are always a hit.
- Polenta is cooked in salted water, similar to oatmeal and rice.
This great article by epicurious explains things very nicely.
Can You Use Corn Flour Instead Of Cornmeal?
Yes, you can, however, you will get different end results. Cornmeal produces a slightly gritty texture, like in this polenta dessert recipe. They can be used interchangeably.
This classic gluten-free cake will be a hit with any lemon dessert lover.
Speaking of lemon lovers, I have the perfect no-churn Easter ice cream recipe. The kids are going to LOVE it.
Once the hot summer days start to roll around, these lemon tea popsicles are sure to please. Adults love these fruit-filled treats.
Since you will love this easy to make cake, give this classic coffee cake recipe a try too. A great cinnamon breakfast cake.
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Lemon Polenta Cake (Gluten-free)
For the Cake:
- 1 cup butter (softened)
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 1 ¾ cups ground almonds
- ¾ cup fine cornmeal polenta
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ tbsp lemon zest
For the Syrup:
- ½ cup lemon juice
- ¾ cup icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- Line base of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and grease sides with butter.
- Combine almonds, cornmeal and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.
- In another bowl beat butter and superfine sugar until pale (I used a hand mixer).
- To the butter/sugar mixture add some of the almond/cornmeal mixture, followed by 1 egg, and continue to beat.
- Alternately add the almond/cornmeal mixture followed by an egg until it is all incorporated, beating the whole time.
- Beat in the lemon zest.
- Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.
- Test using a cake tester, the cake will be done, but might seem a bit “wobbly”, the cake should be shrinking away from the side of the pan.
- Remove and set on a wire rack (leave the cake in the pan).
- Make your simple syrup by combining the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small saucepan.
- Bring to a boil and cook until all the sugar is dissolved.
- Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester.
- Pour the warm syrup over the cake.
- Let cool completely before removing from tin.
- Slice, and if desired garnish with powdered icing sugar and berries.