Lemon Polenta Cake Dessert Recipe

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This simple, rustic Italian-style Lemon Polenta Cake recipe will be a keeper in your recipe file! It has a lovely crunch of cornmeal and lots of fresh lemon.


A piece of cake on a plate
  • 1 cup (165 g) polenta, or stone-ground cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup (100 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 (60 ml) egg whites (1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup (220 g) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil or neutral oil such as canola or avocado
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) whole milk plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Powdered sugar


A plate of food on a table
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 C) and place an oven rack in the center of the oven.
  • Line the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper to fit (see how-to video above) and lightly brush the bottom and sides of the pan with oil or cooking spray.
  • Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  • Beat the eggs, egg whites and sugar in a heavy-duty stand mixer on medium-high speed 4-5 minutes, until pale and creamy. On low speed, mix in the oil. butter, yogurt, lemon zest and juice.
  • Stir in the dry ingredients until just blended. Pour the batter into the pan and bake 35 – 40 minutes, or until the top feels firm (not hard) and a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes before inverting onto a rack to cool – run a dull knife around the edge of the pan to loosen.
  • Sift powdered sugar over the cake and serve.


  • Serve the cake plain or with lightly sweetened fresh fruit.
  • The cake keeps well for several days at room temperature.
  • I sometimes substitute an Italian lemon olive oil when I feel like splurging – it tastes amazing!

What is polenta cornmeal?

The difference between baking with very fine cornmeal (cornflour) and coarse cornmeal comes down to texture. Cornmeal is ground from dried corn, and varies in grind from fine to coarse. Fine cornmeal is processed to remove gritty texture, and often most of the healthy parts go with it.

How to serve lemon polenta cake

This cake is fantastic as a plain tea cake or snack. Cut it into slices and just eat it with your hands. Or, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar and serve alongside generous helpings of whatever seasonal fruit is at its sweetest at the moment. Try lightly sweetened berries, plums or peaches in the summer, or prosecco-poached pears or roasted apples in the fall and winter months.

Can you freeze polenta cake?

Lemon polenta cake can be frozen:

Cool completely, then wrap in several layers of plastic wrap and freeze up to 1 month Defrost at room temperature.

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