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Lemon and Rosemary Polenta Cake

Make Rachel Allen’s Italian inspired zesty sponge made with polenta and almonds drizzled with lemon and rosemary syrup


  • 225 g fine polenta

  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder

  • 450 g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

  • 450 g caster sugar

  • 450 g ground almonds

  • 6 eggs

  • 2 lemons, finely grated zest only

  • 3 tsp finely chopped rosemary, plus sprigs to decorate

  • For the syrup

  • 2 lemons, juice only

  • 2 sprigs rosemary

  • 100 g caster sugar


  • 1.

    Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3. Butter the sides of a 25cm cake tin and line the base with a disc of baking parchment.

  • 2.

    Mix the polenta and baking powder together in a bowl. In a separate large bowl or in an electric food mixer, cream the butter until soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, then beat in the ground almonds.

  • 3.

    Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl for a few seconds or just until mixed, then gradually add them to the creamed butter mixture, beating all the time.

  • 4.

    Add the lemon zest and chopped rosemary. Gently fold in the polenta and baking powder to combine.

  • 5.

    Tip the batter into the prepared tin and bake on the lowest shelf of the oven for between 1 hour 15 minutes and 1 hour 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. The cake will cook to a deep golden-brown colour and may dip a little in the middle. While the cake is cooking, make the syrup.

  • 6.

    For the syrup: Place all the ingredients in a saucepan, along with 50ml of water. Place the saucepan on the hob and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 3-4 minutes until ever so slightly thickened, then remove from the heat and discard the rosemary sprigs.

  • 7.

    When the cake is cooked, take it out of the oven and let it sit in the tin for 10 minutes. Loosen around the edges using a small, sharp knife, then carefully remove the cake from the tin and transfer to a serving plate.

  • 8.

    Reheat the syrup and pour over the cake, then leave the cake to cool down completely before serving.

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