A simple, rustic Italian-style polenta cake made with crunchy cornmeal and scented with fresh lemon.
This polenta cake is a favorite dessert recipe from my file. It’s a rustic, Italian-inspired cake infused with lemon zest and juice, with a tender texture and the lovely crunch of stoneground cornmeal — a/k/a polenta.
It’s the sort of peasant-style sweet I love.
You could cut it into slices and just eat it with your hands, or sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve alongside generous helpings of whatever seasonal fruit is the sweetest at the moment, such lightly sweetened berries in the summer, or these prosecco-poached pears in the fall and winter months.
Tips for perfect polenta cake:
- For easier whipping, bring egg whites to room temperature. Here’s a great shortcut: crack and separate the yolk and whites into a small dish while getting your cake pan and the rest of the ingredients ready. You can also place the whole uncracked eggs in a bowl of very warm water for 15 minutes.
- Keep the wrapped cake at room temperature for several days — the texture and flavor will actually improve the day after baking.
- Lightly oil your cake pan and parchment paper to easily release the cake from the pan.
Watch this video to learn how to make a parchment paper cake circle:
Lemon Polenta Cake
Yield 1 8-inch cake
This simple, rustic Italian-style polenta cake recipe will be a keeper in your recipe file. It has a lovely crunch of cornmeal and lots of fresh lemon.
- Serve the cake plain or with lightly sweetened fresh fruit.
- The cake keeps well for several days at room temperature.
- 1 cup polenta, or stone-ground cornmeal
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 cup whole milk plain yogurt or sour cream
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place an oven rack in the center of the oven.
- Line the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan with lightly oiled parchment paper to fit.
- 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 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 come out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes before inverting onto a rack to cool.
- Sift powdered sugar over the cake and serve.