This cake is pure sunshine.
Meyer lemons are in season right now, and I’ve been obsessed with them for the past couple of weeks. Meyer lemon vinaigrettes, meyer lemon roast chicken, meyer lemon chia pudding, meyer lemon in my sparkling water, meyer lemon squeezed on all the things, etc. Meyer lemons are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, and their flavor and aroma are just fantastic. If you can get your hands on some in the next few months, I would highly recommend doing so. Then you can make this cake!
Nigella first introduced me to the wonders of a polenta cake, and I’ve been making them ever since. This fuss-free cake starts with creamed butter and sugar. You then alternate adding eggs and a dry mix of almond meal, polenta (cornmeal), baking powder and salt. The cake batter is finished with citrus and vanilla. Here, I am using meyer lemon zest and juice, but I’ve also made this cake with regular lemons and oranges. Cooked low and slow in the oven, the cake emerges golden brown and fragrant. Nigella tops her polenta cake with a sweet lemon syrup, but here I’ve chosen to top with a crème fraîche glaze and flecks of fresh meyer lemon zest. Each bite is moist, light and crumbly with a sweet-tart hit of meyer lemon. A true celebration of this seasonal beauty. Continue reading for the cake recipe.
Can’t find meyer lemons? You can make this cake with regular lemons, oranges, blood oranges or grapefruit. Even limes might be delicious here!
The cake itself is naturally gluten-free, but I did dust the springform pan with regular flour to keep things from sticking. If you want to make this recipe 100% gluten-free, you can dust the sides of the springform pan with a gluten-free flour mix.
Meyer Lemon Polenta Cake Recipe
For the cake:
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing
- Flour for dusting the pan (use gluten-free flour to make this 100% gluten-free)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups almond meal
- 1/2 cup medium-grind polenta (or cornmeal)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons meyer lemon zest (from 2 - 3 lemons)
- 1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
For the glaze:
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 3 tablespoons crème fraîche (make this at home!)
- 1 tablespoon meyer lemon juice, plus more as needed
- Meyer lemon zest, for sprinkling
Preheat an oven to 325°F, and set a rack in the middle position. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan with butter, then sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of flour. Shake the flour around the pan to evenly coat the bottom and sides. Discard any excess flour. Line the bottom of pan with a round of parchment paper.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Meanwhile, add almond meal, polenta, baking powder and sea salt to a medium bowl, whisking to combine. Beat one egg into the butter-sugar mixture until fully combined, then beat in 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Repeat alternating with remaining 2 eggs and 2/3's dry ingredients. Stir in vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice.
Scrape cake batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth out to the edges. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (45 - 55 minutes). Transfer pan to a cooling rack, and let sit for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen, then remove the sides of the pan. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan, and let cool on the rack.
In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar, crème fraîche and meyer lemon juice. The glaze should be thick, but pourable. Add more lemon juice drip by drip if needed to get to this consistency. Spoon glaze over the cake in an even layer, and spread out to the edges, so it drips over the sides. You may not use all the glaze. Finish with a dusting of finely grated meyer lemon zest.
Here are some other citrus recipes on Kitchen Konfidence:3