Gluten-free lemon, polenta and pistachio cakes: buttery and moist with a hint of texture thanks to polenta, nutty yet bright with citrus. Finished with a tart lemon glaze – you won’t be able to stop eating them! Jump to Recipe
I can’t look at these lemon, polenta & pistachio cakes without being transported back to my first day in London (a couple of months ago now – so cliche but time freaking FLIES). It was a camera-toting, 35,000 step walking kinda day – maximum sight-seeing and eating involved. I don’t know about you, but my personal tried and true methods (no actual evidence) of minimising jetlag on those 30 hour multi-stop flights and make the most of that first day off the plane are: grab a few hours sleep on route in the timezone you’re travelling into; arrive basically wrecked in the evening at your destination; immediately pop melatonin and sleep like the dead for a straight 12 hours. The next morning, add (in this case) an early bird coffee stop at Brooklyn coffee and a bowl of Ottolenghi’s bircher, studded with sesame brittle, swirls of tahini date sauce and dollops of roasted strawberries = jetlag cured.
Bowled over by the tiered sugary window display at Ottolenghi, I couldn’t leave without taking something for the road – an intriguing and sturdy lemon, polenta and pistachio cake. And trust me, I got countless envious (maybe curious, but I’m going with envious) looks from fellow tourists a few hours later when I plonked myself in the sun at the Tower of London to eat it. The rest of the day was a blur of wandering over various London bridges, gazing at views from the galleries of St Paul’s, and getting a mini Soho tour from Bec – dinner perched on stools at The Barbary, countless sneaked samples of that incredible silky dark hot chocolate from Whittards, and indulgent salted caramel doughnuts from Bread Ahead Bakery.
As you may know from my instagram, that was hardly the only time I indulged at Ottolenghi – there were salads eaten curbside at the Portobello Road Market, indulgent cinnamon coated berry french toast pre-Harry Potter, a smoky capsicum-tomato shakshuka topped with spoonfuls of labneh, and an intense dark chocolate cake with a tahini-caramel centre. Oh, and a huge summer-peach-berry-meringue-slice-thing. Yes, I’m sure I probably put on 5 kilos while I was away. Yes, I loved every single bite – no regrets there. And yes, I absolutely cannot wait until his new book comes out!!!
Anyway, I had to try and recreate those lemon polenta cakes. It took a couple of tries (hence the couple of different photo-shoots, and 2 different sets of loaf tins because on one occasion they stuck – sorry about the completely different lighting situations happening here), but to be perfectly honest – this version is even better than the real deal in London. Seriously. Those had a bit of crumbly-dryness that is completely eliminated here – just buttery, moist, citrus-y, tangy, nutty, bright cake. They’re also gluten free – it wasn’t my initial intention, but if you’re gluten intolerant or catering for someone with coeliac disease then they’re even more perfect!
Gluten-free lemon, polenta and pistachio cakes: buttery and moist with a hint of texture thanks to polenta, nutty yet bright with citrus. Finished with a tart lemon glaze, you won’t be able to stop eating them!
- 220 g unsalted butter
- 220 g caster sugar
- 3 large eggs , room temperature
- 2 tablespoons greek yogurt
- 100 g ground almonds
- 70 g ground pistachio
- 150 g fine polenta
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- zest of 2 lemons
- juice of 1/2 -1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Extra coarsely chopped pistachios
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line eight mini loaf tins. I would recommend lining the base with baking paper - I tried just greasing and flouring but it was very tricky to get them out of the tins!
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the greek yogurt.
Add the ground almonds and ground pistachios and mix gently for a few seconds. Add the fine polenta, baking powder and salt and fold in gently.
Add the zest of 2 lemons and juice of 1/2-1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons total) and mix to just combine.
Divide batter evenly between the loaf tins and smooth the surface.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted just comes out clean
Leave to cool for 15 minutes before removing from tins to a wire rack.
Turn the mini cakes upside down.
Miix together icing sugar with lemon juice until it is a thick, smooth consistency. Err on the side of too thick - you can always add more lemon juice.
Test it out on one of the cakes - it should dollop on top. Spread it to the edge with a knife or offset spatula, then it should drip gently down the sides.
Repeat with the rest of the cakes. Sprinkle with extra chopped pistachios.