Little lemon polenta cakes
There’s a lot of baking going on around here these days, you may have noticed it if you’ve been following on instagram. Biscotti, breads, pastries and the like. Ever since talking about our family going wheat-free, I’ve had people ask if any of it is gluten-free and unfortunately the answer is not much, as I’m doing some rather specific recipe testing for a project that will be revealed all too soon! So I thought that I better offer a good gluten-free treat to make up for all the bakery teasing over on instagram and this is one of my absolute favourite little cakes.
It’s essentially a lemony variation of this polenta and pear cake, which is itself a slight variation of the traditional Amor Polenta (or Dolce Varese) cake from Lombardy in northern Italy. I’ve played around with the eggs, used olive oil this time instead of butter (so this is also lactose free) and, of course, added lemons.
The lovely thing about winter is having a heaving, happy lemon tree or two in the garden. Lemons are one of those handy ingredients that I welcome having plenty of in the kitchen. When they start to outnumber the rest of the fruit in the fruit bowl, I make marmalade from them (my favourite) and that seems to restore some fruit bowl balance. But otherwise, it’s also a nice excuse to make a moist, lemony, fluffy little cake like this one.
It’s a very obliging cake. You could bake this in a loaf tin if you prefer it in slices, I quite like these as dainty little cakes, which I baked in a muffin tin (it also cooks slightly quicker this way, if you’re in a rush or simply cannot wait to eat some cake!).
You could also leave it as is, simple and unadorned except for a little dusting of powdered sugar. When wanting something more tart, I add a very drizzly lemon icing, almost a syrup, with the juice of another lemon and some icing sugar, brushed over the top to make them shiny, sticky and, most importantly, lemony. I imagine this would be just as nice with oranges too, if you were in the mood for them.
Little lemon polenta cakes
Oh, and always remember to zest your lemons before you squeeze them for juice, not the other way around.
- 50 gr almond meal
- 90 grams fine polenta
- 40 gr potato starch (can be substituted with corn starch)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 100 gr caster (super fine) sugar
- 3 eggs
- 100 ml (½ cup) olive oil
- zest of 2 lemons
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Icing sugar (confectioner’s or powdered sugar), for dusting
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and olive oil until you have a creamy emulsion. Add zest and juice. Carefully fold the dry ingredients into the eggs and pour the batter into a lightly greased (with olive oil) muffin tin. Bake at 180ºC for about 20 minutes or until the cakes are golden and springy to the touch. Once cool, dust with icing sugar.