Lemon polenta cake recipe

(75 ratings)

Our lemon polenta cake swaps flour for ground almonds and polenta to make it gluten-free without sacrificing on flavour or texture!

lemon polenta cake with honey drizzle
(Image credit: Future)
Preparation Time30 mins
Cooking Time1 hours 20 mins
Total Time1 hours 50 mins
Cost RangeMid
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories541 Kcal27%
Fat36.1 g52%
Saturated Fat14.6 g73%
Sugars40.9 g45%
Protein8.1 g16%
Carbohydrates44.6 g17%

This moist lemon polenta cake is gluten-free and a wonderful choice for afternoon tea or an impressive, light dessert. 

Lemon drizzle cake is a crowd-pleasing bake but if you need something gluten-free that everyone can enjoy and still delivers a punchy zesty flavour, this polenta cake is a fantastic option. The combination of ground almonds and polenta keeps the cake nice and moist and means it will keep for a few days without drying out. 


  • 250g butter, softened
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs, beaten
  • 250g ground almonds
  • Few drops of vanilla extract
  • Rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2tbsp milk
  • 125g fine polenta
  • 11⁄2 level tsp gluten-free baking powder

For the lemon syrup:

  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 6tbsp honey
  • 50g icing sugar

For the topping:

  • 150g raspberries
  • 150g blueberries
  • Sprigs of mint, for decoration (optional) 




  1. Heat the oven to 160C (140C fan, Gas 3). Grease and line a 23cm (9in) round cake tin, non-stick is preferable.
  2. Beat the butter until soft and pale. This can take around 10 minutes if not soft when you begin. Add the sugar and beat until light and creamy. Whisk in the egg, a little at a time. Don’t worry if it looks split, it will come together when you add the remaining ingredients.
  3. Gently fold in the almonds, vanilla, lemon rind and juice, milk, polenta and baking powder. Pour the mixture into the tin and level the surface.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean after being inserted into the cake. Remove from the oven and leave it in the tin.
  5. To make the syrup, place the lemon juice and honey in a pan and stir in the icing sugar until it has dissolved. Spoon half the syrup over the cake while the cake and syrup are hot.
  6. When you’re ready to serve, pile the fruit on top and re-warm the syrup if it’s too thick to drizzle. Garnish with some small mint leaves, if liked.

Top tips for making lemon polenta cake

For serving suggestions and information on what to do if the cake is going too dark on the top before it’s baked, read our tips below. Don’t worry if your cake sinks in the middle too, we explain why this might happen. 

Why does my lemon polenta cake sink in the middle?

Your cake may sink once baked because it doesn’t contain any flour. Therefore it doesn’t contain any gluten which is what helps support the cake and give it structure.

The cake has a dense, moist crumb which means it is prone to sinking. It still tastes delicious and is one reason decorating with fresh berries is a good idea though it is not essential. You should however still avoid opening the oven door before the first 20-30 minutes of cooking to give the cake the best chance at forming a solid structure.

What to do if the top of the cake is browning too quickly?

Check the oven temperature is correct and adjust accordingly. If the temperature is right but the cake is turning to dark on top, after 30 minutes of cooking add a sheet of tin foil to cover the top.

When can you eat lemon polenta cake?

This is a delicious option for afternoon tea but could also make a wonderful indulgent brunch option. If serving for brunch, consider finishing it with some thick greek yogurt. You could also serve with a scattering of toasted flaked almonds for a crunchy texture that will contrast the moist sponge brilliantly. 

This cake is a real beauty once fully assembled and decorated, give it the presentation it deserves by serving on an attractive cake stand. It’s a simple way to make your cakes look professional and will impress your friends and family. Food editor Jessica Dady did a round up of the best cake stands for 2022 and this was one of the favourites. 

Mango Wood Cake Stand - View at H&M

Mango Wood Cake Stand - View at H&M

The chic wooden cake stand has a sleek design and is made from 100 per cent wood. The rustic appearance will compliment your homemade cake perfectly and it’s easy to wipe clean. 

Lemon is a popular cake flavour and it’s a cost effective option too. For more citrusy bakes, try our lemon cake with poppy seeds or our lemon curd cake for something really special. If you like a moist cake then our lemon cake with olive oil is one of our favourites. 

Food & Recipes writer

Sue McMahon is a former Food and Recipes Writer at GoodTo and Cooking Editor at Woman's Weekly. Her primary passion is cakes and Sue regularly travels the world teaching cake decorating. Her biggest achievement to date was winning the Prix d’honneur at La Salon Culinaire International de Londres beating over 1,200 other entries.

With contributions from