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Recipe – Zesty lemon drizzle polenta cake

A lemon polenta cake in a cake tin
Deliciously zesty lemon polenta cake.

A thought entered my head the other day.  “I really must post more recipes on the blog that involve baking” is how the thought went.  Those of you who are regular followers of Scrumptious Scran will know from my “quaking baking” post that my control-freakery makes me a bit afraid of cooking bread, cakes and tarts.  I’m generally fine mixing the ingredients together, it’s when these riches have to be abandoned in the oven – a bit like a parent leaving a child on its first day at school – that I start to fret.  I mean, what if they just sit there without doing what’s expected of them?

Lemon polenta cake mixture in a cake tin.
Cake mixture in lined tin, ready for the oven.

I had mixed feelings a couple of weeks ago, when one of my work colleagues – who knew I was a food blogger – suggested I might want to contribute to a charity bake sale at work, in aid of Sport Relief.  Deep down, I knew this was the sort of challenge I needed to encourage me to have another bash at a baking recipe.  But what if the dish I produced was rubbish and nobody wanted to buy any of it?  Oh, the potential shame!  In order to avert such a disaster I would have to choose my recipe carefully, deciding upon something that was relatively simple to prepare, pretty foolproof to bake, AND that looked and tasted good.  It also occurred to me that it might be nice to produce something that wasn’t entirely based on flour, eggs, butter and sugar.

So, following a bit of anxious preparation and cooking last night, today I arrived at my work’s Sport Relief bake sale proudly clutching, what I at least thought, a pretty good looking lemon drizzle polenta cake.  A deep yellow disc made shiny by the addition of lemon syrup, not only did it look pleasing, it actually tasted pretty good – and that isn’t just my immodest opinion.  A number of my colleagues who purchased a slice of this unusual take on a sponge also pronounced it to be very tasty indeed.

By substituting polenta and almonds for flour, this cake has a firmer texture than traditional sponge, but is still light and moist.  The addition of the juice and zest of four lemons give it an intense citrus kick, which provides a great contrast to the nutty sweetness provided by the other ingredients.  But for me, the really alluring thing about this recipe is that it is so simple and straightforward execute. It could easily be made in advance of a dinner party, and turned into a really posh pudding through the addition of a fruit compote, or some decadently indulgent Pedro Ximénez sherry and raisin ice cream.  So even if you – like me – are not a natural baker, dust down your cake tins and do give this a try.

Thanks to Dove’s Farm for originally posting this recipe on their website.


  • 150g unsalted butter.
  • 150g castor sugar.
  • 3 large eggs.
  • 75g ground almonds.
  • 75g medium ground polenta.
  • 4 lemons, zested and juiced.
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder.
  • 50g sugar.

Preparation and cooking

  1. Preheat your oven to 170C/Fan 150C.
  2. Oil a 20cm cake tin and line it with baking parchment – I prefer silicon coated.
  3. Beat the butter – take it out the fridge in advance to ensure it is soft enough – and 150g of sugar together until smooth, pale and light.
  4. Beat the eggs into the mixture, one at a time.
  5. Mix in the ground almonds and baking powder.
  6. Stir in all of the lemon zest and half the lemon juice.
  7. Gently stir the polenta into the mixture
  8. Spoon the mixture into the lined cake tin so it forms an even layer.
  9. Bake for 40-45 minutes until firm and golden.  Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin.
  10. Put the remaining lemon juice into a saucepan with 50g sugar.
  11. Boil gently, stirring regularly, for around 5 minutes, until a thick syrup is formed.
  12. Poor the syrup of the surface of the cake, and allow to fully cool before removing from the tin.

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