Lemon Polenta Cake

Cherry Cake

This started life as an orange polenta cake made with yoghurt but somewhere along the line, it turned into a vegan lemon polenta cake. I don’t always have oranges in stock but I almost always have a bottle of lemon juice in the fridge, which is of course cheaper than a bag of oranges. I used to make this quite a lot for my colleagues. It’s easy to chuck in the oven on a busy day and doesn’t really need to be iced. You can certainly add some lemon juice icing but adding buttercream makes it too rich. You can make a sort of upside down cake by putting round slices of lemon and/or orange at the bottom of the tin before pouring the batter over it. The baked slices of citrus fruit do look lovely but it makes the cake harder to cut neatly and people are slightly confused as to what they should do with them – should I eat these slices of lemon?

There’s something quite grown-up about the texture of this cake due to the polenta – I don’t know how it would go down with children. However, it is very easy to make gluten free as it already contains polenta flour.

Pre-heat oven to 150C.

Ingredients: 350ml sugar

175ml lemon juice

175ml water

150g polenta or cornmeal

260g self-raising flour

175ml vegetable or sunflower oil

1/2 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Mix the oil, sugar, lemon juice and water.
  2. Add the flour, polenta and baking powder.
  3. Mix in one direction until smooth and pour into a prepared tin.
  4. Bake for 1 hour – 1 hour 30 minutes until baked through.
  5. Ice with lemon juice icing or dust with icing sugar and decorate with fresh fruit. You can make a buttercream icing but lemon cake tends to be a bit too rich with buttercream.
  6. If you’d like to make a lemon&poppy seed cake, you can substitute the polenta for self-raising flour and adding three tablespoons of poppy seeds.

Please note that cornmeal is not the same as cornflour. Cornmeal can be bought cheaply in Asian, Turkish or Caribbean grocers. There’s really no need to buy the expensive stuff with the fancy packaging all written in Italian.