Lemon Polenta Cake ~ Gluten Free

Ever since we moved to Dubai I've had the wonderful opportunity to explore the different kinds of ingredients available here. Since baking is a great stress buster for me I bake at least once a month and more frequently during the festive season. On one of my first trips to the Organic store I had picked up a pack of polenta which simply put is the rawa made from dried corn kernels. Although I had no particular recipe in mind that day it was easily used up in the form of a cake and the rest of it was used up to dust baking trays on which homemade pizza was placed. I once tried to cook it up with some butter and dried herbs to be served up alongside some grilled chicken and veggies. Tasty!

The first cake that I had baked with it was at my brother's place and I remember the kids going for seconds as it was such a lovely one. Sadly, I lost that recipe and was on a hunt ever since. Recently when I picked up the Step-by-Step Baking Book by Caroline Bretherton at the local library I was thrilled to find a gluten free recipe which I almost ran to try out. The previous one that I had tried was with flour in it but I thought the gluten free version would be a good one to try as we have many people with special dietary needs in my family who could benefit from it.

Since the festive season is right around the corner I tried baking this cake yesterday and couldn't resist posting it immediately. I am hoping that although there is no dearth of recipes online for some awesome festive goodies, this gluten free cake will have some takers as well. If you can't find polenta where you live then you can just substitute it with almond meal (almond powder) or if you are ok with a regular cake with flour, you may replace either the polenta or the almond meal completely or partially with all purpose flour (maida).

Lemon Polenta Cake ~ Gluten Free
Prep time: 15 mins | Baking time: 50-60 mins | Yield: 9" round cake


For the syrup:

1. Preheat oven to 160 C and grease and line the base of a 9" springform pan with baking parchment
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs a little at a time and whisk well between each addition.
3. Add the polenta and almonds in parts and using a spoon or spatula (not a whisk) mix until everything is well incorporated. Add the lemon zest (not the juice) and baking powder and mix well.
4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and level off the surface with a spatula. The mixture will be stiff but that's ok.
5. Baking for 50-60 minutes or until the skewer inserted comes out clean and the top of the cake is springy to the touch.
6. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for a bit.
7. In the meanwhile heat the lemon juice and the sugar in a saucepan and stir till the sugar has dissolved. Take the pan off the heat
8. When the came is still fairly hot, use a skewer or a toothpick to poke holes over the entire surface of the cake. Using a teaspoon pour the prepared sugar-lemon into the holes. Wait for a few seconds until the syrup has been absorbed by the cake before adding more. Repeat until all the syrup has been used up.
9. Let the cake rest for a bit (for at least 1 hour for best results) before you cut it. Serve with creme fraiche if desired

1. Polenta is derived from corn (maize). It is grainy and looks similar in texture like fine semolina (rawa). Simply put, polenta is the rawa made out of corn.
2. This cake is pretty lemony in taste. I used just 1/4 cup of juice (extracted from 1 whole lemon) for the syrup. The original recipe asked for the juice and zest of 2 lemons which would be approx 1/2 cup of juice which can be too sour. If you want a mild taste of lemon then I suggest you use the zest and juice of only 1 lemon (as per my recipe).
3. If you are using Indian lemons the size of table tennis balls then try using two for every lemon mentioned in the recipe.