Orange Polenta Cake


A delicious, no-comprise allergy friendly bake free from dairy, gluten and wheat. This different texture cake is made with polenta and ground almonds, which really does make an impressive replacement to wheat flour, with the added benefit of tones of flavour. Full of orange zest and topped with crushed pistachios, this is a wonderful light cake perfect for the welcoming the warmer weather.

So, custard season is over! I hear a bit of a sigh of relief all around 🙂 This week, we’re onto something far less risky, although something people will equally question. This is a fantastic, very different, cake recipe, that just happens to be dairy, gluten and wheat free. The texture is incredible; slightly crunchy from the polenta, lighter than you would expect given that it is full of ground almonds, and of course it is packed full of zesty orange flavour.


This cake would be perfect served for afternoon tea or as a dessert (tell you the truth… we ate it for both!). If I’m honest, I would really have liked a little dollop of creme fresh on the side… but ok… you can’t have everything! If you are not dairy free though, I really would give that a try – it complements both the flavour and the texture perfectly. If you are dairy free, do like me and have a small scoop of ice cream. Sounds weird, but trust me it works.


I also thought this cake was perfect for this season, for some reason it made me feel so summery – perhaps because of all the pretty bright colours on top – but also the zesty orange hit really made me feel like I was on holiday.


This cake is incredibly simple to make; pretty much a one bowl mix, pour and bake recipe. I’ve added some chopped pistachios and extra zest on top – it is definitely worth the extra minute of effort. The pistachios are a lovely little pop of nutty sweetness and cut through some of the zest-iness of the cake flavour.


Makes 1 medium size cake. Serves 8. Takes 25 minutes plus baking and cooling time.

Inspired by:


  • Cake:
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 200g dairy free butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g demerara sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water
  • 200 ground almonds
  • 100g coarse polenta
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • Syrup:
  • 250ml orange juice (from about 3 – 4 oranges)
  • 30ml orange blossom water
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 30g pistachios, roughly chopped
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees, line a 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper, and then lightly grease the bottom and sides with dairy free butter.
  2. In a pestle and mortar, bash the cardamon pods to separate the husks from the seeds. Remove the husks, and then grind the seeds into a fine powder.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs in one by one.
  4. Beat in the vanilla and orange blossom water.
  5. Add the ground almonds, polenta, orange zest, baking powder and cardamon powder, then fold together until no lumps remain.
  6. Pour the cake batter into the tin, keeping it as level as possible. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean from the centre.
  7. Once baked, leave to cool in the tin for 10 – 15 minutes, then turn out carefully onto a plate.
  8. Whilst the cake is cooling, put orange juice, orange blossom water and caster sugar in a pan, and slowly heat over a low heat until reduced and slightly thickened.
  9. Prick the cake all over and then four the syrup evenly over the cake. Leave the cake to fully cool.
  10. Zest the orange all over the top of the cake, and then scatter over the pistachios.
  11. Slice and serve!


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Filed under cakes, dessert, Gluten Free

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