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A slice of lemon olive oil cake on a plate with a fork.
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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 (220g) Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour
  • ¾ cup (115g) Bob’s Red Mill Medium Grind Cornmeal
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Wet ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • cup milk
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup (160g) organic cane sugar (or regular granulated sugar)
  • Zest of 1 medium lemon
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1 ½ - 2 medium lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Lemon Glaze (optional)

  • ½ 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 ¼-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!
  • For another variation, try this Orange Olive Oil Cake!