It’s been about 3 1/2 years since we last made Nigella’s Lemon Polenta Cake and today seemed the perfect day to rectify that. It’s a great cake with lots of flavor – and really easy to pull together.

The original recipe calls for almond meal. I used macadamia meal today, because that’s what I had in the cabinet. I also used demerara sugar that I pulverized in the food processor and stone-ground yellow grits from Adluh in South Carolina that I also pulverized in the food processor.

The changes made for a great cake – although the original is pretty darned good to begin with!

Lemon Polenta Cake

adapted from Nigella Lawson


  • 1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 cups macadamia nut meal (or almond or nut of choice)
  • 1 cup fine polenta or cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • Zest 2 lemons (save the juice for the syrup)


  • Juice 2 lemons
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the pan with parchment paper and grease lightly with butter.

Beat the butter and sugar till light.

Mix together the nut meal, polenta and baking powder, and add a bit to the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.

Beat in the lemon zest and spread the mixture into the pan and bake for about 35 minutes. A cake tester should come out clean and the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its pan.

For the syrup:

Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar in a small saucepan. Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester and pour the warm syrup over the cake. Leave to cool in the pan before placing it on a cake plate.

Powerfully lemony with a really interesting cornmealy-grit. It’s pretty much a taste sensation and just different enough to be really enjoyable.

I don’t think we’ll wait another 3 1/2 years before making it, again.