Delightful Gluten-Free Lemon Polenta Cake Recipe

Are you looking for a gluten-free and dairy-free cake option? Look no further than Nigella’s gluten-free lemon polenta cake recipe. This cake is the perfect balance of sweet and tangy, with the added bonus of being easy to create in your own kitchen.

One of the standout ingredients in this recipe is polenta. If you’re not familiar with polenta, it’s essentially finely ground cornmeal that’s used in many Italian dishes. Using polenta instead of traditional flour lends a unique texture that’s sure to impress your taste buds. Plus, since this recipe calls for both fine and coarse polenta, you get a dynamic combination of textures in every slice.

Another great aspect of this recipe is how simple it is to make substitutions or variations based on your dietary restrictions or preferences. For example, if you prefer vegan desserts, Nigella offers up some ingredient swaps that will make this cake 100% vegan-friendly.

So whether it’s for a special occasion or just because you’re craving something sweet, give Nigella’s gluten-free lemon polenta cake a try. Your taste buds will thank you later.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Nigella's Gluten Free Lemon Polenta Cake
Nigella’s Gluten Free Lemon Polenta Cake

This gluten-free lemon polenta cake recipe by the renowned food writer and chef Nigella Lawson is a must-try recipe for anyone who loves to bake delicious treats that are both healthy and scrumptious. You’ll adore this cake for a myriad of reasons.

Firstly, this cake is entirely gluten-free, which makes it an ideal dessert for everyone, including those who suffer from gluten allergies, sensitivities or celiac disease. But the cake’s gluten-free nature doesn’t come at the expense of its incredible taste and texture.

The combination of ground almonds, fine polenta, and cornmeal instead of wheat flour gives this cake an intense and satisfying nutty flavor. This texture is then contrasted wonderfully with the addition of smooth, buttery lemon curd on top that adds a bright citrus sweetness.

What’s more, this recipe requires only a few simple ingredients that are easy to find at any grocery store or health food store. It calls for unsalted butter, eggs, caster sugar, ground almonds or almond flour, fine polenta cornmeal, gluten-free baking powder, zested lemons and lemon juice to create an impressive dessert that suits many dietary requirements.

Finally, this versatile cake not only makes an excellent treat on its own but also pairs well with other foods such as fresh berries or jam. It’s ultra-simple to make ahead of any get-together or special occasion and is easily stored in the fridge or freezer when you need it.

So please do give this lemon polenta cake recipe a try; I am confident you will fall in love with it just as I have.

Ingredient List

 Using organic ingredients ensures a clean and healthy treat for your taste buds.
Using organic ingredients ensures a clean and healthy treat for your taste buds.

Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients you’ll need to make this gluten-free lemon polenta cake recipe by Nigella Lawson. Don’t let the long list intimidate you, as most of these ingredients are commonly found in any pantry! You will need:

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups fine polenta/cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup almond flour/ground almonds
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • A pinch of salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (plus extra for greasing)
  • 1 1/4 cups superfine/caster sugar
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 large eggs
  • Optional: For a vegan lemon polenta cake, use egg substitutes like mashed bananas or applesauce instead.

Lemon Drizzle:

  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup superfine/caster sugar

Keep in mind that for this recipe, gluten-free ingredients are necessary. Make sure to purchase fine polenta cornmeal labeled as gluten-free. If you’re unable to find fine polenta cornmeal, feel free to substitute it with ground cornmeal. The almond flour/ground almonds cannot be substituted with regular wheat flour since this is a gluten-free lemon polenta cake recipe.

The Recipe How-To

 The bright lemon flavor is perfect for a refreshing summer dessert.
The bright lemon flavor is perfect for a refreshing summer dessert.

Now, let’s get to the fun part- creating this delicious Gluten-Free Lemon Polenta Cake.

What You’ll Need:
For the Cake:

  • 1.5 cups of fine polenta cornmeal
  • 1.5 cups of almond meal/flour
  • 1 teaspoon of gluten-free baking powder
  • 2 sticks (8oz) of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1.5 cups of superfine (caster) sugar
  • Zest and juice of one lemon (use organic if possible)
  • 3 large eggs

For the Lemon Drizzle Topping:

  • Juice of one large lemon (organic if possible)
  • 1/2 cup of superfine (caster) sugar

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the fine polenta cornmeal, almond meal/flour, and gluten-free baking powder. Stir together until ingredients are evenly distributed.
  3. In a separate large bowl, beat the unsalted butter and superfine sugar until mixture is light and fluffy. Add in the lemon zest and lemon juice, then beat in your first egg until it is fully incorporated into the mixture.
  4. Add the remaining eggs one at a time, beating each egg into the mixture until fully combined.
  5. Gradually fold in the dry ingredients from step 2 into the wet mixture from step 4 until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into your greased cake pan and smooth out the top using a spatula or knife.
  7. Bake cake in preheated oven for approximately 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. While your cake is baking, create your lemon drizzle topping by stirring together the lemon juice and superfine sugar until dissipated.
  9. Once cake is fully cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in pan for 10 minutes.
  10. After 10 minutes, take a fork or toothpick and make small incisions/scores all over the cake surface.
  11. Pour your lemon drizzle topping over the cake, allowing it to soak in well in between each individual score.
  12. Leave your cake to cool for an additional 20-30 minutes before removing it from the pan and placing on a cooling rack.
  13. Dust some powdered sugar over the top of the cake before serving.


Time-Saving Tip:

To save time on this recipe, you can prepare the lemon drizzle topping ahead of time and store it in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready for use.

Ingredient Substitutions:

If you do not have fine polenta cornmeal on hand, you can

Substitutions and Variations

 The polenta gives this cake a unique texture that's slightly grainy but still moist and delicious.
The polenta gives this cake a unique texture that’s slightly grainy but still moist and delicious.

Are you ready to experiment with this delicious Lemon Polenta Cake recipe? Great! Here are some substitutions and variations that may inspire you to get creative in the kitchen:

1. Gluten-Free Flours: You can substitute the cornmeal with any gluten-free flour you have on hand. Try using almond flour, rice flour, or chickpea flour.

2. Sugar Substitutes: Replace the caster sugar with coconut sugar or maple syrup for a healthier option.

3. Vegan Version: To make this cake vegan-friendly, replace the butter with softened vegan butter and use 3 flax eggs instead of the regular eggs.

4. Olive Oil: Switch out half of the unsalted butter for light olive oil to add a nutty flavor to the cake.

5. Orange Cake: Replace the lemon zest with orange zest and switch up the topping by making an orange drizzle instead of a lemon one.

6. Nutty Variation: Add chopped walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts for an extra layer of crunch and flavor to the recipe.

7. Fruit Toppings: Serve slices of this cake with fresh berries, homemade raspberry sauce or even a dollop of lemon curd.

Remember that experimenting in the kitchen is all about trying new things, so go ahead and make this Lemon Polenta Cake recipe your own by adding or swapping any ingredients you like!

Serving and Pairing

 This recipe is easy to follow and won't require any complicated ingredients or equipment.
This recipe is easy to follow and won’t require any complicated ingredients or equipment.

Serving a slice of Nigella’s Gluten-Free Lemon Polenta Cake is simple yet elegant. The cake itself has a beautiful bright yellow color, thanks to its high concentration of lemon zest, which gives it a wonderful citrus aroma and flavor. After dusting the top with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, you can impress your guests by adding a dollop of fresh whipped cream and garnishing with fresh berries such as blueberries or raspberries.

This easy-to-make gluten-free cake can be enjoyed any time of the day. It works well as an afternoon snack to indulge in with a cup of tea or coffee, or as a dessert served after dinner. The sweetness of the cake pairs perfectly with the tartness of lemon curd, and sliced oranges make for a great complement too.

You may also create an elegant dessert buffet table by pairing the Gluten-Free Lemon Polenta Cake with other dishes having similar textures and flavors. If you are looking for more dessert ideas that are free from gluten, then look no further than pairing it with an Apple Cake or the Almond Flour Raspberry Cake. Take advantage of seasonal fruits to create original cocktails that go well with this delicacy.

The perfect combination of sweet and tangy flavors makes Nigella Lawson’s Gluten-Free Lemon Polenta Cake recipe an excellent choice for any occasion. You can even mix things up by drizzling some extra lemon juice over the top of each slice before serving for a zesty burst of flavor that will invigorate your senses.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Perfect for impressing your friends with your baking skills at your next gathering.
Perfect for impressing your friends with your baking skills at your next gathering.

Ah, the joys of baking a delicious cake! But, sometimes, it’s not realistic to bake and serve the same day. Fear not, my friends, because this lemon polenta cake can be made ahead of time and still retain its delectable taste when stored properly.

To make ahead: After the cake has cooled completely, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store it in an airtight container or sealable bag. You can leave it at room temperature for up to two days or refrigerate it for up to a week.

To store: Store this gluten-free lemon polenta cake in an airtight container or sealable bag. It can be kept at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also freeze it for up to three months. Just wrap it securely in plastic wrap and foil before placing in the freezer.

To reheat: Allow the cake to thaw if frozen. Then, reheat it by placing individual slices on a plate and microwaving them for about 20 seconds each. Alternatively, you can warm slices of the cake in the oven at 350°F (180°C) for 10-15 minutes.

Keep in mind that this cake is best when freshly baked. But with these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy its lemony goodness anytime you want!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Top with fresh berries for a burst of color and added sweetness.
Top with fresh berries for a burst of color and added sweetness.

Making a gluten-free lemon polenta cake seems like a daunting task, but with the right ingredients and techniques, you can make a perfect one. In this section, we will share tips to help you make the perfect lemon polenta cake.

1. Use Fine Cornmeal

The texture of your cake depends on the cornmeal you use. Fine cornmeal creates a lighter and smoother texture compared to coarse cornmeal. We suggest using quick-cooking polenta or instant polenta as they are fine-grained.

2. Weigh your Ingredients

It’s best to weigh your ingredients rather than measuring them in cups. Gluten-free baking is more scientific than traditional baking, so precise measurements are essential for perfect results.

3. Add Lemon Zest

Adding lemon zest enhances the flavour of the cake by adding natural citrus aromas without making it sour.

4. Room Temperature Butter and Eggs

Before baking the cake, make sure to bring all ingredients (butter and eggs) to room temperature because cold butter will prevent your cake from rising correctly.

5. Don’t Over Bake

Overcooking your polenta cake will result in a dry and crumbly texture. To avoid overcooking, set a timer for 40 minutes and check with a toothpick if it comes out clean before removing it from the oven.

6. Lemon Drizzle

While optional, adding lemon drizzle to your cake can give it an extra zing of flavour and keeps it moist for longer. Mix lemon juice with powdered sugar, then pour over the still-warm cake before serving.

If you follow these tips with precision, you will have a delicious gluten-free lemon polenta cake that looks as good as it tastes, making it an ideal dessert for any occasion!


Wondering about some common questions that people ask about this delicious Gluten-Free Lemon Polenta Cake Recipe? Let me help you clear out some of your concerns – I’ve composed a FAQ section with answers to questions that might come up during the baking process. Take a look!

Why is my polenta cake gritty?

To achieve a smooth texture in your polenta cake, it’s best to use finely ground cornmeal instead of a coarser grind. Additionally, using almond flour as a substitute for regular wheat flour not only adds protein but also remains gluten and grain-free due to its natural composition of ground almonds.

Why did my polenta cake sink in the middle?

When a cake caves in the middle, it is possible that an excessive amount of baking powder and overbeating could be the culprits. These actions could cause the cake to rise significantly during the baking process and then dramatically collapse as it cools.

Can I use polenta instead of ground almonds?

If you find yourself short on ground almonds for a recipe, you might consider using other ingredients such as breadcrumbs, ground rice, semolina or polenta as substitutes. However, it’s important to note that the outcome will depend on the recipe itself, so experimenting with each option may be necessary to find the right fit.

How long does polenta cake last in the fridge?

When you use both almonds and syrup in your cake recipe, it results in a very moist cake that won’t dry out easily. This means you can make it in advance, up to 3 days ahead of time, and store it in an airtight container for up to 5-6 days without worrying about it losing its texture.

Can you use cornmeal instead of polenta cake?

When it comes to making polenta, it’s important to use the right type of cornmeal. Polenta-specific cornmeal will yield the best results, but if you don’t have it on hand, you can also use medium or coarsely-ground cornmeal. Just avoid using finely ground cornmeal or corn flour as they won’t give you the desired texture and may result in a gluey final product.

Bottom Line

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In conclusion, Nigella’s Gluten-Free Lemon Polenta Cake Recipe is the perfect treat for those who want to enjoy a delicious dessert while still keeping up with a healthy lifestyle. This recipe is packed with lemony goodness and made from ingredients that are all-natural, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Plus, it can easily be adapted to suit different dietary needs or preferences, making it a versatile treat for any occasion.

So why not give this recipe a try in your kitchen? With its easy-to-follow instructions and helpful tips, you’ll be able to make a beautiful and tasty lemon polenta cake that your friends and family will adore. And don’t forget to get creative with your serving and pairing ideas – this cake pairs wonderfully with fresh fruit, whipped cream, or even a dollop of lemon curd.

Overall, Nigella’s Gluten-Free Lemon Polenta Cake Recipe is proof that healthy eating doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor or fun. By using simple, wholesome ingredients and making smart substitutions where necessary, you can still enjoy all the best things in life – including dessert!

Nigella's Gluten Free Lemon Polenta Cake

Nigella’s Gluten Free Lemon Polenta Cake Recipe

I have converted this one too. Very light and refreshing in the summer. I always serve it with Homemade lemonade.
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Gluten-free
Servings 1 cake
Calories 259.6 kcal


  • 3/4 cup and 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups ground almonds
  • 9 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • zest from 2 lemon (save juice for syrup later)
  • syrup
  • juice from the 2 lemon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to to 350 degrees farenheit. line the base of a 1x23 cm springform round cake pan with parchment paper. butter the sides of the tin.
  • Beat butter and sugar until pale and whipped.
  • Mix the almonds, cornmeal and baking powder in stage with the 3 eggs until all ingredients are combined.
  • Then beat in the lemon zest, scrape the cake mix into the tin
  • Bake about 40 mins, or until cake tester comes out clean.
  • Make the syrup by boiling together lemon juice and sugar in a medium saucepan. once the icing sugar is dissolved in the pan you are done.
  • Prick the top of the cake all over with the cake tester and pour the warm syrup over the cake and leave to cool before taking the cake out of the pan.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 57gCalories: 259.6kcalCarbohydrates: 26.2gProtein: 4.5gFat: 16.3gSaturated Fat: 6.3gCholesterol: 57.8mgSodium: 16.4mgFiber: 1.9gSugar: 20.4g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Breakfast, Citrus, Dessert, For Large Groups, Free Of..., From Scratch, Fruit, Lemon
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