From the first bite, you experience the soft crunchy texture from cornmeal and ground almonds, the fresh flavor of lemon, and moist richness that comes from olive oil. You will never believe this is gluten-free, dairy-free and can be made low sugar. My go-to dessert.
Of Cornmeal and Olive Oil
Needing a gluten-free, dairy-free dessert for a client, I adapted one of my favorite cake recipes from Deborah Krasner’s The Flavors of Olive Oil: A Tasting Guide and Cookbook to meet the need. I also turned to Bob’s Red Mill for gluten free cornmeal and flour blend.
By using gluten-free cornmeal, gluten-free flour blend and almond milk, this olive oil cake turned out beautifully. Now, I always make it this way. It’s one of my go-to dessert recipes and it never disappoints.
Perfect after dinner with fresh berries, this cake also works with a cup of tea in the afternoon or with a cup of coffee for a weekend breakfast. Fresh berries are a nice addition but optional. I used to dust it with powdered sugar but no longer keep it in the pantry.
A Snap to Make in a Food Processor
There are many great things about this recipe. It is easy to make. The batter is done quickly in a food processor, then poured into a parchment-lined springform pan and baked. It can be made two days ahead, wrapped and refrigerated. I think it would also freeze well, but it never lasts that long. No frosting required: just a dusting of powdered sugar (optional). Sometimes I add a little whipped cream on top, but it’s really not needed.
Honestly, I could just eat the batter. I relish licking the spatula and scraping my finger around the food processor bowl after the cake is in the oven.
To Reduce Sugar by Half
In my quest to reduce sugar, I’ve started making this with part granulated whole leaf stevia. I use Wholesome Sweeteners brand. As the substitution of sugar is half, I use a 1.2 cup of their Organic Sugar and 1/4 cup of the stevia. (Note 3/6/14)
I plan to test the recipe with other nuts such as hazelnuts and pistachios. For a vegan version, I’d like to test an egg substitute or use flaxseed instead of the egg. No matter how you make it, I’ll bet it will become one of your regular recipes too.
Lemon Almond Polenta Cake (G-Free)
- ½ cup (90 grams) gluten-free cornmeal, medium to coarse grind (Bob’s Red Mill) or standard cornmeal
- ½ cup (70 grams) gluten-free flour blend (Bob’s Red Mill), other g-free blend or standard all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder, aluminum-free
- ¼ teaspoon table salt (2 grams)
- 1 ½ cups (7 ½ ounces or 210 grams) whole raw almonds
- 1 cup, 7 3/4 ounces (215 grams) sugar, preferably organic evaporated cane juice (see below to reduce sugar)
- 1 large lemon, Meyer if available
- ¾ cup (175 ml) extra virgin olive oil (use a fruity good quality oil)
- ½ cup (125 ml) almond milk, organic unsweetened vanilla ( I use homemade, recipe is here)
- 2 large eggs, organic
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Powdered sugar to finish before serving, optional
- Fresh berries and mint, optional
- 9” (23 cm) springform pan
- Parchment paper rounds or wax paper
- Food processor with steel knife
- Digital scale (helpful but not mandatory)
- Pre-heat oven to 325 (163C) degrees
- Spray a 9” springform pan with non-stick spray and line with a parchment round cut to fit the bottom.
- In a medium bowl, whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt together.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel knife, pulse the almonds and sugar for about 30 seconds. They should have a coarse, sandy texture to them.
- Cut lemon in half. Juice one half to get 1 ½ tablespoons; discard rind and add juice to the food processor. Pick the seeds from the other lemon half, cut lemon half into four pieces and add to the food processor. Process for 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl with a flexible spatula.
- Add oil, almond milk, eggs and almond extract. Process for 1 ½ minutes. Add the cornmeal/flour mixture and give it a few long pulses to combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake about 45-60 minutes, or until golden and firm to the touch. A cake tester or toothpick comes out with just moist crumbs attached. Timing depends on your ovens.
- Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then run a thin bladed knife around the inside edge of the pan. Release the spring, remove the bottom pan and parchment, and cool on a wire rack. Let cool completely. Serve as desired with berries, whipped cream, whipped coconut milk or plain.
The cake will hold for two days wrapped well and refrigerated.
TO REDUCE SUGAR BY HALF: Use 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup granulated whole leaf stevia such a Wholesome Sweeteners.
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