Lemon Almond Cake (GF DF)

By Sally Cameron on March 27, 2011

Bakery and Baking, Breakfast & Brunch, Dairy Free, Dessert, Gluten-Free

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 cake style dessert: lemon almond cake.

Lemon Almond Polenta Cake |AFoodCentricLife.com

Lemon Almond Cake

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 gluten-free flour blend. By using gluten-free cornmeal, gluten-free flour blend and almond milk instead of dairy milk, this olive oil cake turned out beautifully.  Now I always make it this way. It’s one of my go-to dessert recipes that is a guaranteed hit.

Dessert or Snack Cake

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, as it it not overly sweet.

lemon almond polenta cake | AFoodCentricLife.com

A Snap to Make in a Food Processor

There are many great things about this recipe. It is easy to make and the batter is done quickly in a food processor, then poured into a parchment-lined springform pan and baked. 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 Serve

Lemon almond cake can be made two days ahead, wrapped and refrigerated. I think it would also freeze well, but it never lasts that long. No frosting require,  just a dusting of powdered sugar (optional). Sometimes I add a little whipped cream or whipped coconut cream on top for a nice finish. And add those berries. Berry sauce is be nice to.

lemon almond polenta cake | AFoodCentricLife.com

To Reduce Sugar by Half

If you want to reduce sugar, try substituting part of the sugar for monk fruit/erythritol blend or your substitute of preference. For a vegan version, try making it with an egg substitute or use flaxseed instead of the egg. No matter how you make it, it could become one of your regular recipes too.

For another easy cake made in a springform pan, try this delicious cherry cake.

Lemond Almond Polenta Cake with Berries|AFoodCentricLife.com

Nutrition Facts
Lemon Almond Polenta Cake (Gluten-Free)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 346 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Fat 24g37%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 31mg10%
Sodium 128mg6%
Potassium 171mg5%
Carbohydrates 30g10%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 18g20%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 45IU1%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 119mg12%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
lemon almond polenta cake | AFoodCentricLife.com
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3 from 2 votes

Lemon Almond Polenta Cake (Gluten-Free)

Gluten free and dairy free, this tender lemon almond polenta cake is made with olive oil, almonds, polenta (ground cornmeal) and a whole lemon, recipe adapted from The Flavors of Olive Oil. It’s wonderful for dessert with berries, nice with tea, even, and even works as an afternoon snack cake or breakfast.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Keyword almonds, Cake, Gluten-free, polenta
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 346kcal


  • ½ cup  gluten-free cornmeal medium to coarse grind  Bob’s Red Mill
  • ½ cup gluten-free flour blend
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 ½ cups whole raw almonds 7 ½ ounces
  • 1 cup unrefined natural raw sugar to reduce sugar see below
  • 1 large lemon Meyer if available
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil use a good fruity oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk I use homemade, recipe on this site
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Optional Garnishes

  • Powdered sugar to finish before serving
  • Fresh berries

Special equipment

  • 9 inch springform pan
  • Parchment paper rounds or sheet cut to round
  • Food processor with steel knife
  • Digital scale helpful but not mandatory


  • Pre-heat oven to 325 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.
  • 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 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, use part sugar substitute. This recipe is most easily and accurately made with a digital kitchen scale, which is a terrific and inexpensive investment if you do not have one.


Calories: 346kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 128mg | Potassium: 171mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 45IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 119mg | Iron: 1mg
  1. Gluten-Free Lemon Almond Polenta Cake :: sallycameron.com | ClubEvoo - March 28th, 2011

    […] Follow this link: Gluten-Free Lemon Almond Polenta Cake :: sallycameron.com […]

  2. Stephanie Weaver - March 28th, 2011

    I can vouch for this amazing cake! It’s incredible. The photos came out fantastic! 🙂

  3. Michelle K - March 28th, 2011

    Yum! Got to try this one first hand it had a wonderful medley of flavors and textures. Went wonderfully with the fresh organic strawberries and was very satisfying after dinner. Thanks!!

  4. Maribel - March 28th, 2011

    This couldn’t come at a better time as we are going to a get together this weekend where the host is gluten intolerant! Thanks, Sally!

  5. Mike - March 28th, 2011

    Fantstic cake recipe! Can’t wait to bake this one for the family party this weekend and I learned you can mix a cake batter in a food processor.
    Thanks and Regards

    blenders and food processors

  6. Creamy feta spread « Two Spoons - March 29th, 2011

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  7. Jayne - March 29th, 2011

    That looks and sounds amzing!

  8. Jennifer (Delicieux) - March 29th, 2011

    Firstly, let me say I love your photo of the gorgeous cake. Yum!

    I make a lemon almond cake but I love the idea of including polenta. I will have to try this. Thanks for sharing 😀

  9. Dr. Patrick Mahaney - March 30th, 2011

    Looks delicious, as usual! I am a huge fan of polenta, so it is nice to see its’ nontraditional use in a cake.

  10. Dianne Jacob - April 11th, 2011

    I took this cake to a friends’ place for a housewarming gift. My friend Tom had 3 servings! Then he sent an email the next morning saying he and his wife had it for breakfast. So I would say it’s a success. It was rich yet light, great texture, and I loved the lemon and almond flavors. I was sad to give it up as a gift.

  11. Flourless chocolate cake with hazelnuts and poppy seeds | Vegan - October 29th, 2011

    […] are some other healthy(ish) birthday cake ideas: Rosemary and Olive Oil cake from Domestic Divas Gluten-free lemon almond polenta cake from A Food Centric Life (I have had this and it is g-o-o-d!) Vegan chocolate cake with chocolate […]

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  13. Homemade Almond Milk — A Food Centric Life - January 1st, 2012

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  14. gitika partington - April 24th, 2012

    adapted because I did not have everything…used dark dark sugar, coconut milk instead of almond milk, and vanilla instead of almond essence…..and was still lovely thanks
    made it for my choir and it all went!!!!! I did cook it for an extra 20 mins though as I was using fan assisted oven and took the temp down 5degrees…put it back up to 160 after an hour…still looked a bit like it was undercooked in the middle on top…but it was absolutely fine! “best cake” said Mr P. ans I am no cake maker ( am now)

  15. Eva Chowaniec - January 27th, 2013

    The cake looks just wonderful! I have to go and get the ingredients for it tomorrow!

    One question though: Is it possible to substitute the sugar with Stevia in liquid or powdered form?

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe and the mouth-watering pictures!

  16. Sally - January 27th, 2013

    Hi Eva. I’m not sure. I’ve never tried it. It’s harder to substitute ingredients when baking. If you are looking for an alternative sweetener other than sugar, have you tied coconut sugar? Even if you used half of the sugar and just a little stevia. That might work, although it is not as sweet as sugar, and this is not a very sweet cake anyway. Thinking about the recipe and process, the sugar is ground in the food processor with the almonds. If you used powdered stevia, it would be different in terms of the texture of the meal that you are making. It would be less in volume for one thing. I’m thinking that the cake might come out flatter, which would not be bad. If you decide to try it please report back and let me know how it works. I will have to try it that way myself as an experiment, then update the post and recipe with a note. It really is a delicious cake!

  17. Eva Chowaniec - February 5th, 2013

    Hello Sally,

    I did take your advice and substituted half of the sugar with a 1/2 tsp. powdered Stevia. It did come out a little flatter as you suspected, but let me tell you!!!! This cake is INCREDIBLE!
    I actually had to make it twice that weekend, the first time I didn’t have real lemon at hand so I substituted with lemon granulate that claims to be “real” and added a little more almond essence. This was my husband’s and my kids’ favourite.
    I made the cake again for some friends and stuck to your recipe (only the sugar/Stevia combination I kept)…and this turned out to be MY favourite due to the slight bitterness the lemon rind added…

    Either way this recipe is a keeper!!!! Shouldn’t make it too often though or I will have to go clothes shopping soon!!!

    Thank you so much!!!!

  18. sophie - April 16th, 2015

    I want to make this, but I have two questions:
    1) I only have course ground cornmeal (POLENTA) from Bob’s Red Mill. Will this work?
    2) I’d like to make individual portions. Can they be made into muffins? Do you know how many muffins? At what temperature? Same? Bake them for shorter or longer?

    Thanks <3

  19. Sally Cameron - April 21st, 2015

    Hi Sophie. Bob’s polenta should work fine, however this recipe has not worked for me in cupcakes or muffins. Tried it once and it flopped. Should try it again. They were too fragile. Get a springform pan. They are not that much and once you make this it might be a go-to dessert as it is in my house. And the pan can be used for other things too. Try on Amazon or at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Would like to amend it to make it work for cupcakes, but once you just pour the whole thing into 1 pan and bake, it’s easier!

  20. sophie - May 2nd, 2015

    Actually! I made them twice already as muffins and they turned out great; they did not fall apart, were sturdy (stayed together)


  21. Sally Cameron - May 3rd, 2015

    That’s good to know Sophie! Thanks for reporting back.

  22. Dawn - August 18th, 2019

    Can you use almond meal instead of grinding the whole almonds?

  23. Sally Cameron - August 26th, 2019

    Hi Dawn. I’ve never tried to that way but you might be able to. The texture might be finer, which would be…fine! If you try it, go with measurements on a scale versus in dry measure – if that makes sense. I would also try the meal which is not as fine as the almond flour. For example, Bib’s Red Mill makes two versions (last time I checked). I may have to try that myself. Thanks for the question!

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