WCC#17: Lemon Polenta Cake

June 7, 2007 at 4:58 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, events, simple cakes, sweet things | 48 Comments

lemon polenta cakes

For me, Foodie Chickie Ani couldn’t have come up with a more timely theme for the latest Weekend Cookbook Challenge.  After taking that cooking class with Rachel Grisewood a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been sampling more of Manna From Heaven’s products when I see them about town.  One of Manna’s most popular little treats is a little, iced lemon polenta cake.  Manna’s website has a great picture and describes them as “gluten free cakes made with polenta, coconut and ground almonds.” When I saw that Ani had chosen “cornmeal” for the throwdown, I knew instantly that I wanted to try to make these little guys at home.

I scoured some of my baking books for a recipe I could adapt, but had no luck on my bookshelf.  So I decided to use the internet as my cookbook (hopefully this is within the Challenge rules!), and found something that sounded pretty spot on.  Using almond meal and cornmeal instead of flour, this recipe also has lots of coconut, lemon zest and juice in the batter. 

Rather than bake one large cake, as instructed in the recipe, I made individual ones using my friand tin (with a shorter cooking time, of course).  I made half a recipe and got nine friands.  Also, I heated up the lemon glaze, which is really a syrup that gets poured over the warm cakes before icing, in order to disolve the sugar in the juice.

lemon polenta cakes

My cakes came out great– a very good knock-off!  They were moist and tasty, and the shreds of coconut gave them a little chew.  Suggestions for next time…maybe I’d add in just a drop of almond extract.  

Lemon Polenta Cake– makes eight servings
modified from a recipe by Roger Bayley

 For the cake:
130 g ground almonds (or almond flour)
130 g shredded coconut
130 g fine polenta (or yellow cornmeal)
1 t baking powder
grated rind of 3 lemons
270 g soft butter
270 g caster sugar
4 eggs (55 g each)
juice of 2 lemons

For the lemon glaze:
juice of 2 lemons
sugar to taste

For the lemon icing:
250 g icing sugar
juice of ½ lemon, approximately

-Combine ground almonds, coconut, polenta, baking powder and lemon rind, and set aside. Using electric mixer beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

-Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Fold in dry ingredients and lemon juice until just combined. Pour mix into greased and lined 9-inch/24-centimeter round cake tin (not springform) and bake at 325°F/160°C for one hour or until golden and just coming away from the side of the tin.

-Meanwhile, make the lemon glaze by heating the lemon juice and sugar gently, until the sugar is just dissolved.

-Remove from the oven and cool in the tin. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen. Pour on lemon glaze while cake is still warm.

-Allow to cool completely in tin before turning on to a plate, as the cake falls apart easily while warm.

-Spread the lemon icing over the cake when cooled completely. (You can make the icing more like a loose glaze by slightly reducing the amount of icing sugar.)


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  1. I just came across your blog – this is great! You’re polenta cake seems a lot more moist than mine. And I love the icing on top. I will definitely have to try this one next time. Thanks!

  2. I’ve made a similar recipe once and used lime instead of lemon. It was delicious.

    Your baby bakes are adorable! I wish I could have one. Ok, maybe I’d like to have 2. 😉

  3. Thanks so much for the nice words, Chris and Patricia. I checked out both of your polenta cake posts, too, and they look super-tasty!

  4. This cake looks delicious ¡!! And great photo

  5. Those are so cute, and I can imagine they were delicious too! Thanks for taking part in WCC again.

  6. This looks both beautiful and delectable, and I love the little mini-cake idea! Who would’ve thought of polenta as a medium for such a delicious cake!

  7. I love polenta cakes..all drenched in sweet orange syrup…Yours looks particularly light and mouth watering.

  8. These look delicious! Have tried a polenta cake with rhubarb before and adored it. This will be my next cake.

  9. That looks incredible!

  10. I came here from the Foodie BlogRoll and what a discovery it is! Those pics are food porn at it’s best 🙂 The food just leaps off the screen. Really fantastic stuff.

  11. Wow– I came back from a weekend away, and had all these great comments! Thanks everyone…I’m blushing.

  12. that looks so moist!

  13. My first time here and I’m loving it…the cake looks gorgeous…

  14. That looks so moist, I will definitely make this.

  15. OMGosh! Your cakes make my mouth water they are so incredible looking. Yummy!

  16. Steph,

    They’re gorgeous!

  17. So going to make these. I am also going to take your advice and add a touch of almond extract. I think that would go really well.
    Also love the individual cakes, nice touch! Thanks

  18. Dawn–Great! If you do make the individual ones, just watch the baking time…mine took a lot less time than suggested for the full cake.

  19. What a mouth-watering treat! This is a keeper for sure…

  20. Hi! I came over from the Foodie Blog Roll as well (I’m a member as well) and love the look of this cake! It’s fabulous that it’s already gluten free— I have been daydreaming about polenta cake/cupcakes and will have to give it a try. 🙂


  21. I am so keen to have this recipe – have been searching for it for ages – but the link to Bayley’s recipe is no longer there! Can you help?

  22. Alison– Thanks for letting me know! I just e-mailed you, and will adjust the recipe here as well.

  23. Hi,
    I made this lemon polenta cake from your recipe and had a question. I’m not very familiar with cooking polenta – I used instant polenta and put it in with the other ingredients dry. I found that after the cake was baked, the polenta still had a little ‘crunch’ to it. This softened after a day or so. But i’ve always wondered whether I’m supposed to cook the polenta before adding it to the mix.
    any suggestions?
    By the way, your blog has inspired me to make my own.
    Your food is beautiful!

  24. Michelle- I will try sending you and e-mail as well. Polenta in this case just means yellow cornmeal. You don’t cook it separately first, just use it as a straight ingredient, as you would in making cornbread.

  25. I live in Sydney too actually.
    I think I made this cake before and soaked the polenta because i wasn’t sure, and this time didn’t.
    But I recently found that you can get different grades of polenta – in terms of the coarseness of the grind in some good italian fruit shops so will try a finer one next time. Cheers!

  26. I found the cakes stuck in the patty cake tins, should I be using the silicon ones

  27. Rae–Sorry to hear your cakes stuck. You did grease the tins, right? I used a vegetable spray on my friand tin, but it is also a non-stick tin to begin with. I don’t have much experience baking with silicon, so not sure on that one.

  28. Made these yesterday because I was sick of my husband spending too much on the Manna ones. They are a definite winner with us – in my opinion, better, cheaper (and bigger!) than the original. The cakes came out perfectly moist and didn’t stick at all.

  29. I haven’t made a cake for 20 years and made this for a work birthday party – it was a raving success – Didn’t bother with the icing and still fabulous.

  30. Hi finally a recipe that can replicate those delicious morsels you buy in the cafes for a ridiculous amount of money. I did wing them once with almond meal, polenta etc… and they came out a treat but I am going to make these ones as they sound even better with my fav ingredient coconut…Thanks

    • Stefania– I hope you do try it out…and let me know how it is!

      • Hi Steph

        Just wanted to let you know that I did make the cakes mini muffin size (x24) and friand size (x6) and they were absolutely delicious!!! Easily one of my favourite recipes!!! By the way I didn’t halve the recipe kept it as is……Thank you very much!!!

  31. hi just made muffin sized lemon polentas with lemon glazing they are wonderful having an on going battle with my daughter to prevent her from eating them all before her dad comes home, she says jokingly that they are too good for him, thanks for sharing the recipe jh

    • thanks so much for the comment! i love getting feedback on older posts (means someone is still reading them)!

  32. I have been searching for a recipe for polenta cake, and yours looks great, user friendly and explained very well, especially the individual ones, the children will love, however, i hate coconut flavour and wondering is there an alternative i could use, like extra almonds or polenta..

  33. Hi Steph i made these little lemon polenta cakes in mini muffin tins, folowed the recipe exactly but they were very crumbly and fell apart when i took them out of the tins (when cold) but they did taste very similar to the manna in heaven ones, any hints on why they were so crumbly what could i have done wrong. Love your website by the way.

    • Hi Julie. Thanks for writing! Your problem wasn’t that they stuck to the tins was it? In that case, use a nonstick tin or butter or spray well. If the texture was too crumbly (it should be a bit crumbly–that’s just it’s nature)…did you use a fine polenta? Coarse meal will make a crumblier cake, so fine is definitely what you want. Another suggestion would maybe be to cut back on the coconut a bit and add a little more of the almond meal.

  34. hello from Casablanca in Morocco! my partner has been dreamin of a moist cake and i thought of polenta cake, lemon one!!! its in da oven now so will let you know how it turns out!!! a tout a lheure!!

  35. turned out great! thnx eva so much! so light and moist! didnt use the icing but still turned out amazing! merci!!!!

  36. Hey – this recipe looks fantastic but have no scale so would desperately love to know the ingredients in cups!

  37. Great recipe! I can’t wait to try it 🙂

    Blogged here:

  38. I just returned from Ireland and had an almond lemon polenta cake with a Blackberry sauce. I was so craving it that I googled and happened upon your recipe. Your cake was almost identical. Thank Youuuuu

  39. I can’t wait to make these this weekend, they look scrumptious! I’ve never baked with polenta before, do I need to cook it before adding it to the other ingredients or do I use it as is?

    • Oh sorry, I just saw this. No don’t cook it first, use it as cornmeal.

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