Italian Olive Oil Polenta Cake with Lemon and Rosemary

Simple, easy and incredibly delicious, this polenta oil olive cake with lemon and rosemary is a real treat for everyone who likes simple and rich taste!  I love citrus in just about anything, and in cooking I like pairing it with herbs of the same origin – lemon and rosemary, orange and wild fennel and so on. This cake is an example of just such an aromatic marriage. The texture is moist and vaguely crunchy, the flavor grassy and zingy, fresh and resinous, sweet and slightly sour. It is a sort of cake you never get tired of, no matter how mush you eat. Well…you’ve been warned! Following, you can check the recipe:


For the cake:

  • 240 ml/1 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the tin
  • 175 g/ 1 cup polenta
  • 145 g/1 ½ cups ground hazelnuts
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 ½ teaspoons very finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 medium eggs
  • 220 g/1 cup caster sugar

For the syrup:

  • 1/2 cup/ 110 g caster sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons (about ½ cup/120 ml), strained
  • Lemon wedges and springs of rosemary, to decorate (optional)




To make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 356°F/180°C/ Gas Mark 4. Brush a 9-inch/23 cm loaf tin with olive oil and dust with a spoonful of polenta – shake to coat all sides.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the polenta, baking powder, ground hazelnuts, rosemary leaves, lemon zest, and salt.
  • In a separate, larger bowl, beat the eggs with a hand-held electric whisk until frothy.
  • While still beating at a high speed, pour in the oil in a thin stream; you’ll eventually see the two coming together into a smooth, frothy, and perfectly emulsified mixture. Next, add the sugar and keep beating until incorporated.
  • Finally, add the flour mixture in 3 branches, folding through at every addition. At this point, the batter should look smooth, but a bit granular and on the runny side.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin and level it.
  • Transfer to the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until a knife or skewer runs clean through the center. (If, halfway though, you notice that the top is becoming too dark, cover with a piece of foil.)
  • Once done, remove the heat and allow the cake to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes. Then, run a knife along the edges to unmold it and turn out onto a wire rack to cool entirely. It might be that, although cooked all the way through, the cake will sink a little in the middle while cooling; this is fairly normal, and won’t compromise the overall texture.

To make the syrup:

  • Heat the lemon juice in a small pan. As soon as you see it reaching the boil, add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the syrup thicken and reduce to about half its initial volume.
  • Remove from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes, then brush it all over the top of the cake.
  • Leave to set for at least 1 hour before slicing. If you like, you can garnish the cake with springs of rosemary and rosemary flowers.


Buon Appetito!


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