This easy lemon olive oil cake is one of those desserts that makes people happy (if cakes had emotions, this one would be all smiles). It’s a FOOLPROOF polenta cake with a bright lemon flavor that’s perfect for any occasion—from holidays (hello Easter and Mother’s Day!), to afternoon snacks, to weekend brunches. The simple tea cake gets a triple dose of lemon flavor from lemon zest, lemon juice and a 2-ingredient lemon glaze (oh swoon). Don’t miss the step-by-step VIDEO below.

A slice of glazed lemon olive oil cake on a plate, topped with a caramelized lemon slice.

Lemon olive oil cake

I love baking with olive oil, which gives this cake an ultra moist texture. You can use any extra virgin olive oil you have on hand, but just be sure it’s fresh (it should smell fruity, not musty). 

Gluten free lemon olive oil cake on a platter, garnished with baked lemon slices.

Gluten free lemon almond cake

The cake is made with just Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour and Bob’s Red Mill Medium Grind Cornmeal, making it naturally gluten free. The almond flour gives the cake a supple texture, while the cornmeal provides a subtle crunch and a beautiful golden yellow color.

A bag of Bob's Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour and a bag of Bob's Red Mill Medium Grind Cornmeal on a counter.

I prefer using the medium grind cornmeal in this cake as opposed to coarsely ground cornmeal or polenta, as it lends a lovely crunch without being gritty.

Dairy free polenta cake

You can easily make this cake dairy free by using an unsweetened nut milk, soy milk or oat milk!

All of the ingredients for the lemon olive oil polenta cake recipe arranged on a work surface.

How do you make lemon olive oil cake?

  • In a bowl, whisk together almond flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.
Process shot showing the dry ingredients for the polenta cake in a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract and almond extract.
Process shot showing the wet ingredients for the cake in a bowl.
  • Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then transfer the batter to a greased and lined 9-inch springform pan.
The lemon cake batter in a 9-inch springform pan.
  • Bake the cake until it’s golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 35-38 minutes). Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then remove the springform sides. Cool the cake completely.
The baked lemon olive oil polenta cake on a cooling rack.

Easy lemon glaze

The cooled cake is drizzled with a two ingredient lemon glaze (made with just lemon juice and powdered sugar), giving it a touch more sweetness and delicate crunch on top.

Process shot showing the easy lemon glaze drizzling over the cake.
A hand spreading the lemon glaze over the cake with an off-set spatula.

Baked lemon slices

I love to garnish this cake with caramelized baked lemon slices, but they’re completely optional! They’re a cinch to make and can be baked at the same time as the cake.

Baked lemon slices on a baking sheet.
Hand placing a baked lemon slice on top of the cake.

How do you serve lemon olive oil cake?

This lemon olive oil cake is luscious enough to serve all on its own, but if you want to gussy things up you can add a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

A slice of the olive oil cake on a plate with a dollop of whipped cream alongside.

FAQ

Can I make the polenta cake ahead?

Yes! This lemon polenta cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days (it gets even better with time). 

What does olive oil do to a cake?

Olive oil provides moisture and and a subtle fruity flavor.

Is polenta cake gritty?

No! This cake is made with Medium-Grind Cornmeal instead of coarsely ground cornmeal/polenta, which provides a sweet flavor and subtle crunch without being gritty. 

The cake on a platter with a large wedge cut out.

Tips for making this cake:

  • I prefer to use Bob’s Red Mill Medium Grind Cornmeal instead of coarsely ground cornmeal or polenta in this cake. The medium grind cornmeal provides a sweet flavor and subtle crunch without being gritty. It also gives the cake a beautiful golden yellow color!
  • Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour gives the gluten free cake an ultra tender texture.
  • The cake is baked in a 9-inch springform pan. You can use a deep 9-inch cake pan instead, if you don’t have one.
  • I love using an inexpensive kitchen scale when baking, which is easier than using measuring cups (with less dishes!) and also more accurate (especially when working with gluten free flours).
  • For a naturally sweetened lemon cake, you can use coconut sugar instead of cane sugar, but the cake will be dark in color.
  • For a dairy free cake, use unsweetened nut milk, soy milk or oat milk.
  • The glaze gives this cake a touch of added sweetness and crunch. It’s a very thin layer of glaze (if you prefer more glaze, you can double the recipe).
  • Baked lemon slices are an easy (but optional) garnish, or you can try these candied lemon peels (from this lemon pie recipe) instead!

Thank you to Bob’s Red Mill for sponsoring this post! I was compensated for this post, but all opinions and recipes are mine alone. Thank you to all of the companies who help keep From Scratch Fast cooking!

Close up of a forkful of lemon olive oil cake.

Other gluten free desserts you might like:

Delicious main dishes to try:

Watch the video!

Get the recipe!

Lemon Olive Oil Polenta Cake (Gluten Free!)

This irresistible lemon olive oil cake is supremely tender with a slight crunch from cornmeal. It’s a FOOLPROOF tea cake with a bright lemon flavor that’s perfect for any occasion. The simple cake gets a triple dose of lemon flavor from lemon zest, lemon juice and a 2-ingredient lemon glaze (oh swoon). If you’d like, you can garnish the cake with baked lemon slices (see the recipe in the Notes below—they can be baked at the same time as the cake). The cake is so moist and tender that you don’t need anything with it, but if you want to gussy things up you can add a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten free lemon almond cake, lemon olive oil cake, lemon polenta cake
Servings: 1 9-inch cake

Equipment

  • 9-inch springform pan (or 9-inch cake pan)

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray or olive oil, for pan

Dry ingredients

  • 2 cups (224g) Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour
  • 3/4 cup (110g) Bob’s Red Mill Medium Grind Cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Wet ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (164g) organic cane sugar (or regular granulated sugar)
  • Zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1 1/2 – 2 medium lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Lemon Glaze (optional)

  • 1/2 cup (60g) confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Baked lemon slices for garnish (optional), see Notes below

Instructions

Prepare the pan

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F (175˚C) with a rack in the middle. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray (or brush it with olive oil). Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, then spritz the parchment with cooking spray as well.

Whisk the dry ingredients

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour, Bob’s Red Mill Medium Grind Cornmeal, baking powder and fine sea salt. Use your fingers to break up any clumps of almond flour.

Whisk the wet ingredients

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, olive oil, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract and almond extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth (the batter will be quite loose).

Bake the cake

  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake on the center rack until it’s until golden brown, very lightly cracked on top, and a toothpick in the center comes out clean, about 35-38 minutes.
  • Transfer the cake to a rack and let it cool for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife (or small off-set spatula) along the edges then remove the springform sides. Let the cake cool completely.

Glaze the cake (optional)

  • Carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate (it’s a fairly delicate cake, so take care—or just serve it on the springform base!). In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Scrape the glaze over the top of the cake, then spread it in an even layer (it will be a very thin layer of glaze). If you’d like, garnish the cake with baked lemon slices. Let the cake sit for 15 minutes (or up to 4 hours) to allow the glaze to harden before serving.

Notes

Do Ahead: The lemon cake can be covered with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days (or you can refrigerate it, if you prefer). It gets even better with time! You can also freeze the cake for up to 2 months in an airtight container.
Baked lemon slices (for garnish): Baked lemon slices are a pretty (but totally optional!) garnish. They can be baked at the same time as the cake. Cut 1 medium lemon into 1/4-inch slices. Pop out and discard the seeds. Arrange the lemon slices on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in a 350˚F (175˚C) oven on the bottom rack until the lemon slices are browned on the bottom, about 25-30 minutes. Flip the slices over and bake until browned on the other side (they should feel mostly dry to the touch), about 10-15 minutes longer.
Tips:
  • I prefer to use Bob’s Red Mill Medium Grind Cornmeal instead of coarsely ground cornmeal or polenta in this cake. The medium grind cornmeal provides a sweet flavor and subtle crunch without being gritty. It also gives the cake a beautiful golden yellow color!
  • Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour gives the gluten free cake an ultra tender texture.
  • The cake is baked in a 9-inch springform pan. You can use a deep 9-inch cake pan instead, if you don’t have one.
  • I love using an inexpensive kitchen scale when baking, which is easier than using measuring cups (with less dishes!) and also more accurate (especially when working with gluten free flours).
  • For a naturally sweetened lemon cake, you can use coconut sugar instead of cane sugar, but the cake will be dark in color.
  • For a dairy free cake, use unsweetened nut milk, soy milk or oat milk.
  • The glaze gives this cake a touch of added sweetness and crunch. It’s a very thin layer of glaze (if you prefer more glaze, you can double the recipe).
  • Baked lemon slices are an easy (but optional) garnish, or you can try these candied lemon peels (from this lemon pie recipe) instead!

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