Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Lemon Polenta Cake

This month for the Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned a blog called Wandering Spice written by Yasmeen. I was pretty excited about being assigned her blog, because as she explains, after much moving around, Yasmeen settled in Melbourne Australia. Australia happens to be one of my favorite places in the whole world, and I dream about going back pretty much daily. I spent a semester abroad in Australia when I was in college and it was the most amazing experience of my life, so any associations that remind me of that time and place are very welcome!

Yasmeen has plenty of intriguing recipes on her bog, all developed throughout her life adventures and discoveries, which I find really cool because it means that there is specific inspiration behind each and every one of her recipes. I like to think the same about the things that I make.
Since I’m not yet very good at knowing the correct gluten-free substitutions in recipes, I was thrilled to stumble on this recipe for Lemon Polenta Cake, which is inherently gluten-free! It uses almond flour and polenta (cornmeal) for the base, and then lots of sugar and butter and eggs (of course) to make up the rest of it. How could that be bad?!
The recipe was written in weight measurements, so I went ahead and did everything by weight, but have also provided approximate cup measurements here if you don’t have a kitchen scale. The more I do things by weight, the more I wish all recipes were written in weight measurements, because it’s so much more precise, and I never wonder if I my cup of flour is too dense!
But about the cake – it’s incredible. I took pictures of it straight out of the oven, so naturally I had to take some bites of the first slice I photographed (at 8:00am on a Sunday morning…) and it was just incredible. As Kevin said, it melts in your mouth! Which sounds like a funny sentiment since it has course polenta in it, but it really does just sort of melt into these heavenly flavors inside your mouth. The cornmeal adds a distinctive and unique chewy crunch, and the lemon flavor is bright and fresh. I ate my first slice alongside a pile of raspberries, which is a fantastic pairing, but I imagine it’d be quite lovely with some fresh whipped cream, or any other types of berries. This is hands down my favorite gluten-free dessert to date!
Lemon Polenta Cake
adapted from Wandering Space
2/3 cup (100g) polenta (I used plain old yellow corn meal)
1 3/4 cups (200g) almond meal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using regular butter)
14 tablespoons (200g, 1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
3 eggs, whisked
zest of 1 large lemon
juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (120g) sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper and spray the bottom and sides of the pan with nonstick spray.
1) Whisk together the polenta, almond meal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside.
2) Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Crack eggs into bowl and beat gently.
3) Working in stages, gently mix together 1/3 of the butter mixture, 1/3 of the dry ingredients, and 1/3 of the beaten eggs. Repeat this process twice more with the remaining ingredients, until all ingredients are just incorporated.
4) Fold in lemon zest, and pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes (the original recipe said 40 minutes, but mine was done early – so start checking around 30 minutes just to be safe).
5) Just before the cake is finished – after about 30 minutes of baking – make the glaze. Heat lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.
6) While the cake is still hot, use a toothpick to poke small holes all over the cake. Spoon the glaze evenly over the cake, and spread as necessary. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to precent sticking, before you release it. Cook slightly, and enjoy!

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