I had to buy lemons the other day. Usually I wouldn’t, as so many of our friends and family have them growing in the backyard. But this was an emergency, there was no chance of seeing any of those folks, and I had desserts to make.


Turns out a bag of small, ripe lemons didn’t break the bank. And you get quite a number. Half went towards the compilation of a tangy citrus tart, the other half waited until last night to be utilised. I couldn’t bear to let them go to waste, so what better excuse than to make a crunchy, tangy, utterly irresistible, gluten-free polenta cake?


I think this is going to be lunch.


Lemon syrup polenta cake {gf}

For the cake
A little nut-free oil for greasing
140g (5oz) unsalted butter
2/3 cup (140g/5oz) caster (super-fine) sugar
2 eggs, beaten*
1 1/3 cups (140g/5oz) ground almonds (almond meal)
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup (85g/3oz) polenta or other cornmeal
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon

For the syrup
4 tbsp lemon juice (juice of 2 lemons)
2 tbsp water
115g (4oz) pure icing (confectioners’) sugar

Preheat the oven to 170 deg C (340F). Grease a deep 18cm (7-inch) round cake tin and line base with baking paper.

Beat together the butter and sugar either with an electric beater until soft and fluffy. Add in the eggs a little at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add the ground almonds and vanilla extract. Sift the polenta, baking powder, and salt over. Add the lemon zest and juice and fold everything in gently with a metal spoon.

Transfer the cake mixture to the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until risen, golden and firm to touch. Remove the cake from the oven.

To make the syrup, gently heat together the lemon juice, water and icing sugar in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Stab the cake all over with a wooden cocktail stick (skewer), making the holes go almost to the base. Spoon the hot syrup over the cake – there is quite a lot but it all soaks in.

Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin before turning out and removing the baking paper.


*To make this cake vegan, replace the eggs with 1 flax egg and 1/4 cup applesauce.

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