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Italian Polenta Cake

Indulge in the rustic charm of our Easy Italian Polenta Cake recipe. This golden delight brings a touch of sweetness and texture to your table, perfect for any occasion.

April 14, 2024
Polenta CakePhoto By Canva
Difficulty Easy
Servings 8 people
Preparation 20 mins
Cooking 40 mins
Total 60 mins



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together polenta, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Incorporate eggs one at a time, fully mixing each before adding the next. Stir in the lemon and orange zest, along with the vanilla extract.
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, alternating with the lemon and orange juice, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with fresh berries before serving.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Polenta Cake
Serves 8
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18 g23.1%
Protein 5 g10%
Cholesterol 120 mg40%
Sodium 150 mg6.5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


  • Choose the right polenta. Fine polenta works best for cakes as it gives a smoother texture. However, if you prefer a bit of crunch, coarser polenta can also be used. For more, check out our ‘What Is Polenta?’ article.
  • Ensure your butter and eggs are at room temperature to achieve a smoother batter.
  • When creaming the butter and sugar, do it for at least 5 minutes to incorporate air into the batter, making the cake lighter.
  • Prevent overmixing. Mix the batter until just combined to keep the cake tender.
  • Feel free to experiment with adding nuts, like almonds or walnuts, for added texture and flavor.
  • Check for doneness. Start checking the cake for doneness a few minutes before the suggested baking time to avoid overbaking.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing to prevent it from crumbling.
Rate This Recipe

Embark on a culinary journey to Italy with this simple yet exquisite Polenta Cake recipe. Known for its rustic charm and delightful texture, Polenta Cake combines the richness of traditional cornmeal with the zestiness of citrus, creating a dessert that's both satisfying and refreshingly light. Perfect for any occasion, from a cozy family dinner to an elegant gathering, this cake promises to impress your guests with its unique flavor and golden beauty.

Origins of The Polenta Cake

Polenta, a dish of boiled cornmeal, has been a staple in Italian cuisine for centuries, originally serving as a peasant food due to its simple ingredients and affordability. The versatility of polenta is showcased in both savory and sweet dishes, with Polenta Cake being a delightful example of the latter. Italian Polenta Cake transforms this humble grain into a moist, flavorful dessert, marrying the rustic essence of polenta with the sophistication of Italian baking.

The addition of lemon, creating the beloved Lemon Polenta Cake, infuses this traditional dessert with a bright, zesty flavor that perfectly complements the cake's dense, crumbly texture. This variant not only adds a refreshing twist but also highlights the adaptability of polenta in recipes, proving it a worthy main ingredient in both traditional and modern Italian cooking. The lemon's acidity contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the cake, making it a favorite for all seasons.

For those with dietary restrictions, a Gluten-Free Polenta Cake offers a delectable solution without compromising on taste or texture. Polenta's naturally gluten-free composition makes it an ideal base for creating inclusive dessert options. The Easy Polenta Cake recipe celebrates the simplicity and elegance of Italian desserts, allowing even novice bakers to recreate a piece of Italy in their kitchen. By following these guidelines, anyone can produce a dessert that's as rich in history as it is in flavor, bringing a slice of Italian heritage to the table.

Polenta vs Cornmeal

Polenta and cornmeal are often mentioned in the same breath, given their close relationship, but they refer to different things, especially in terms of culinary uses and cultural significance. Here's a breakdown to clarify their differences:


Definition: Polenta is not just an ingredient but also a traditional Italian dish made from cornmeal. It can be served creamy and thick, or allowed to solidify and then sliced.

Texture and Cooking: When people refer to polenta in terms of the ingredient, they're often talking about a type of cornmeal that's coarsely ground, which is ideal for making the dish polenta. The cooking process involves simmering in water, broth, or milk until it reaches a porridge-like consistency.

Cultural Significance: In Italy and other parts of Europe, polenta has a rich history as a staple food, particularly in Northern Italy. It's a comfort food that's versatile, serving as a base for sauces, cheeses, vegetables, and meats.


Definition: Cornmeal is ground dried corn. Its texture can vary from fine to coarse, and it's used as a base ingredient in various culinary applications, from breading to baking.

Types and Uses: Fine cornmeal is often used for baking bread, cakes, and as a batter for fried foods. Medium and coarse cornmeal may be used for making cornbread, hushpuppies, and, yes, polenta.

Cultural Significance: Cornmeal is a staple ingredient in many cuisines around the world, not just Italian. It plays a significant role in American Southern cooking, as well as in Latin American, Caribbean, and African cuisines.

Key Differences

Usage Context: Polenta, as a dish, is specific in its preparation and cultural context, primarily Italian. Cornmeal is a broader term for a type of grain preparation that can be used to make polenta but also serves many other culinary purposes.

Grind Size: For making traditional polenta, a specific grind of cornmeal is preferred—usually coarser. Cornmeal comes in various grind sizes, from fine to coarse, each serving different culinary needs.

Culinary Versatility: Polenta, while versatile within Italian cuisine, is a specific dish. Cornmeal's versatility spans across baking, frying, and creating an array of dishes beyond just polenta.

In sum, while all polenta is cornmeal, not all cornmeal is used to make polenta. The distinction lies in the grind size, preparation, and the cultural and culinary contexts in which they are used. Understanding these differences can enhance cooking and baking, allowing for more authentic and diverse creations in the kitchen.

What To Serve with Polenta Cake?

Polenta cake is a versatile dessert that can be served with a variety of accompaniments.

Here are our delicious recipes that you can serve with Polenta Cake:

Recipe byPetite Gourmets

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