Lemon Polenta Olive Oil Cake

31 Jan

Lemons are everywhere here at the moment. I use lemons a lot in my cooking to brighten up soups, curries, salads and dips. Most of my dishes are finished of with a squeeze of lemon before serving. It just highlights all the other flavours and brings the dish to life.

I saw Nigella make a lemon polenta cake that looked delicious. Hers had quite a bit of butter in it so I thought I’d try to make it with olive oil instead. I have some amazing first press newly harvested local stuff to play with and I’m always looking for excuses to use it in anything.

You should always keep olive oil (or anything really) in glass bottles if you can. Plastic affects the chemical make up of things especially when heated.  Like you should never use cling film when microwaving things. Or drink water out of a plastic bottle that has been in the sun. Microwaves are nasty anyway. Ours broke a few years ago and we have never replaced it. I honestly don’t miss it at all.

Most recipes also use a mixture of polenta, plain flour and ground almonds. I wanted to make a gluten-free, dairy-free version so I tried it without the flour. It works…

Lemon Polenta Olive Oil Cake

Makes a 24cm/9 inch cake, serves 12. Dairy-free, gluten-free.

Adapted from A Meandering Mango

Prep time: 15 mins Cooking time: 45 mins

  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 160 gr (3/4 cup) brown sugar (or raw sugar)
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
  • 2 large lemons, zested & juiced
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 190 gr polenta (cornmeal)
  • 75 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 150 C and oil a 24 cm loose bottomed cake tin.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until light and creamy (about 4 mins). Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, continuing to whisk until all the oil is combined. Whisk in the lemon zest and vanilla.

In another bowl, stir together the polenta, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Sieve this mixture over the eggs and sugar in 3 batches, alternating with the lemon juice, folding until just combined.

Pour into the oiled cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then turn out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve with a light dusting of icing sugar. You can also make a lemon syrup to drizzle over if you think it needs it. Heat up some lemon juice and icing sugar in a pan until the sugar dissolves. Use a cocktail stick or piece of dried spaghetti (authentic Italian version) to make holes all over the top of the cake. Pour the syrup slowly over the top of the cake letting the syrup sink in.

Buen Provecho!!

In my next post I will be making an exciting announcement about what I will be getting up to over the next month…

Stay Tuned!!

35 Responses to “Lemon Polenta Olive Oil Cake”

  1. Fred @ Savorique January 31, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    The texture makes me think of corn bread but I know yours is definitely better. I like how easy it is to prepare.

  2. Tony Ward January 31, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    This is AMAZING guapa. I can feel the urge to invade the kitchen and create a mess. What the heck….here we go !! We have liquor (wouldn’t you know) here in Cape Town called limoncello….it is just crying out to be included in this tangy confection !! x

  3. spree January 31, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    There’s nothing about this recipe that I don’t love! I have a wonderful rather fruity olive oil, infused with a touch of vanilla, and it’s making it’s way STRAIGHT to this cake! Oh yum, and oh thank you!

  4. Chica Andaluza January 31, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    Fantastic – my mum lost her recipe and we´ve been looking for a good one to replace it. The cake looks so light…I´ll be making this very soon. PS. We harvest our olives this weekend, late I know, but I´lll have some lovely oil to use!

  5. Marina January 31, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    Brilliant recipe! I can smell it in my kitchen.

  6. Caroline January 31, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    I love lemon anything…seriously. This sounds and looks fantastic, Natalie! I’m with Fred, it does look like it resembles the texture of cornbread a bit. Nowwww I’m craving cake.

  7. Suzi January 31, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    The cake looks perfect. Amazing there is no flour just the cornmeal. Do you think it could be made with egg replacement? Looks delicious.

    • foodblogandthedog January 31, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

      Just cornmeal & almond flour yes. I don’t know about the egg replacement, I’ve never used it sorry!

  8. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide February 1, 2012 at 12:04 am #

    This looks great. I’ve never used polenta in a dessert before and need to try it out.

  9. ceciliag February 1, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    Ok divine! AND thank you for your discussion on heated plastic, everyone looks at me like i am mad when i go on about it, even to drinking water out of a hot plastic bottle left in the car. We do not have a microwave either.Oh I tell a lie: I have one in the basement for heating wax when i make candles! Even Johns Lunch goes to work in a glass container. My fridge is full of leftovers stored in glass preserving jars! oops i almost tipped over into a rant! Lovely cake! i need to do more with polenta! c

  10. peasepudding February 1, 2012 at 12:29 am #

    It looks amazing and I like that you have made it gluten free. Certainly doesn’t look like or needs flour

  11. thekalechronicles February 1, 2012 at 7:52 am #

    This is a beautiful olive oil cornmeal cake, Natalie. I have never seen almonds in one before. I sometimes use a blood orange olive oil in citrus-flavored cakes and other baking: it extends and enhances citrus flavors. Lemon olive oil would be good, too.

  12. Three Well Beings February 1, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    We really do seem to have the same climate, Natalie, and my neighbor’s lemon tree is out of control. I have been looking for lemon recipes and this is just a great and unexpected contribution. I like Sharyn’s (kale chronicles) suggestion about lemon olive oil, too. Debra

  13. dassana February 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    i have never made cakes with cornmeal. see this recipe has given me an idea what to do with the all the cornmeal i have at home. i think as a egg replacement i could use flaxseed meal or yogurt.

  14. kellie @ foodtoglow February 2, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    Love polenta-based cakes as I invariably have someone who is gluten-intolerant on one of my cancer nutrition courses. This kind of recipe always makes them feel included in all the food fun. I actually prefer olive oil to butter now anyway (butter makes me feel a bit queasy – probs the thought of all the sat fat!). Hope lots of readers try it. Cornmeal is great to add texture into all kinds of baking recipes, but can’t beat a cake with it as the main ingredient.

  15. Savory Simple February 2, 2012 at 3:04 am #

    This sounds sooo good. I love every ingredient in the title!

  16. Tes February 2, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    Wow your cake looks so perfect and fresh! I need a slice or two right now 🙂

  17. Vera February 2, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    Your Polenta cake looks sublime.Was wondering though if I could use millett instead of polenta.

  18. Cassandra May 4, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    I’ve made this cake twice now and both times it didn’t turn out. The first time I used polenta and it turned out super crunchy. The second time I used cornmeal and cooked it a little longer. Once again, crunchy, not as bad as the first time though. Any suggestions on why it turned out so “crunchy”? Thanks.

    • foodblogandthedog May 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm #

      Hi Cassandra, first of all I’m really sorry that it didn’t turn out for you twice, that’s very weird! It sounds like the polenta isn’t cooked enough. Mine doesn’t say on the packet but maybe you should try quick cook polenta. Or maybe your lemons aren’t very juicy and there’s not enough juice/liquid to cook/soak into the polenta. It does have a grainy texture when cooked but it shouldn’t be crunchy except a little on the outside. Other than that I’m stumped, you have cooked it at the right temp I presume?

  19. Suzie Gallagher July 19, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

    Just made this for my gluten-free friends. It tastes gorgeous and so very easy to make. I thought the sugar would darken it too much but it is a lovely golden colour

  20. CLAUDIA August 3, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Mmmm my daughter who will be 9 soon has specifically asked for a lemon polenta birthday cake. As she can’t eat dairy – this looks absolutely perfect!

  21. yambean October 7, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    I have no butter in the house but am determined to make a cakey dessert to serve friends who are coming by today. This is perfect. Hope you don’t mind but I am going to throw in some ground cardamom too. Must go as I have Polenta Cake to bake!

  22. mataicooking October 13, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

    Thank you for the great Idea . . .

  23. Mel November 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    Hi, i just baked this and it turned out good. Thank you so much for the recipe!!! =) How long can i keep it and do i have to refrigerate it? Thanks x

    • Natalie Ward November 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

      I would wrap it once cool in greaseproof or clingfilm and keep it in an airtight container. Not in the fridge though. Not sure how long it will last, it never lasts that long!!

  24. gabrielle burns December 3, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    I made this cake yesterday. I am not a great cake maker so carefully followed the recipe to a tee. It was a success and looked good and tasted good.

  25. Christina February 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Hi, I love the sound of this cake and I am going to make it soon. Can you also use coarse polenta flour?

    • Natalie Ward February 1, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

      I’m not sure what the difference is to be honest. I used quick cook polenta. Have a go and see how it turns out!

  26. Karen March 10, 2013 at 2:06 am #

    I don’t have a scale! Anyone have converted measurements?

  27. Kani April 24, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    Made this last night. I used less sugar…about 2/3 of the amount to see how it turned out. It was delicious! Turned out great 🙂 I think it was slightly overdone, but it was my first time baking with that oven. About 30minutes would have been long enough for me.
    Thanks for the recipe 😉

  28. lisaradano April 26, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Can you pls convert 190 gr of cornmeal to cups? Thx

    • Natalie Ward April 26, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

      With a little googling I believe it is about 1+ 1/3 cups, good luck!

  29. Payal September 3, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    Any way to make this gorgeous cake eggless… Want to make this for my mums party…


  1. Blood orange upside-down cake | Gluten-free | Vegan - May 7, 2012

    […] Lemon Polenta Olive Oil Cake from Cook Eat Live Vegetarian (not vegan, includes raw sugar) […]

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