Lemon Polenta Cake


While I’m the first to extol the virtues of a plain old lemon sponge, this is a richer, zestier cousin. A simple search will yield thousands of competing recipes, but this rendition is adapted from the great Ruth Rogers, an undisputed expert on Italian cakes.  The combination of almonds and polenta make it deliciously damp. If you’re feeling bold, you could drizzle over a tangy lemon syrup, intensifying the flavours further. I quite like to keep it simple with a light dusting of icing sugar and a dollop of crème fraiche (and in this instance poached rhubarb). It sits as happily at the tea table as it does at the dinner. If by some miracle it’s not wolfed down in one sitting, you’ll be relieved to hear it keeps brilliantly.

225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
225g ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1 lemon
110g polenta flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin.

Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add half the ground almonds along with one egg, incorporate into the mixture, then add the remaining ground almonds and egg. Stir to combine.

Fold in the lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla; followed by the polenta flour, baking powder and salt. Spoon into the prepared cake tin, smooth the surface with a spatula, then bake for 45 - 50 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack.