Lemon Raspberry Polenta Cake

  • Serves: Makes one 9 x 2-inch cake
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 350
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Accented with tangy lemon zest and studded with sweet-tart, ruby red raspberries, this moist polenta cake is both rustic and seductive. The tender cake layers are brushed with fragrant limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur, and then layered with mounds of fluffy whipped cream. Sliced toasted almonds and a pile of fresh raspberries crown the top, making this a visually pleasing and very fine dessert! What kind of polenta works best with this recipe? Find out below!


Polenta is made from ground yellow or white cornmeal (ground maize), and comes in both fine and coarse grinds. Our recipe uses the fine grind, also known as quick-cooking or instant. The results are a finely textured, not-too-sweet, and tender cake.

1 1/4 cups bleached cake flour (not self-rising); spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, fine grind also known as quick-cooking or instant

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons grated lemon peel 
1 tablespoons lemon juice
12 ounces raspberries, divided (you will use 1/2 cup in the cake, and the rest for garnishing the top of the cake); NOTE: Go through your raspberries and pull out the most attractive berries for the TOP of the cake. Use the less perfect berries in the cake, and between the two layers when you decorate the cake.
Filling and Garnish:
1 recipe Stabilized Whipped Cream 
1/4 cup limoncello or Basic Simple Sugar Syrup with Flavor Variations, Lemon Variation
1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted*

To lightly toast sliced almonds, use a dry skillet, stirring over medium heat, until toasted. Let cool on parchment paper until needed.
Store in an airtight container.

1. Position an oven shelf to the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

2. Spray a 9- x 2-inch cake pan with cooking oil spray. Line bottom with parchment paper and spray paper.

3. Sift the measured flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Stir in cornmeal. Set aside.

4. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, on low until softened. (If the butter is cold, it will warm quickly from the beaters - taking about 60 seconds).

Add the sugar in a steady stream at the side of the bowl. Increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute until the butter is slightly aerated. 

5. Stop the mixer and scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula. 

6. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time and beat for 20 seconds after each addition. 

7. After the eggs have been added, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the mixture for 1 to 2 minutes. (If the eggs are cold, the batter will curdle slightly. It's ok. It will come together as the batter warms from the beaters. ) Set the kitchen timer to help you keep track of the time. The mixture will become fluffy and aerated. 

Stop the mixer and scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula. 

8. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour / cornmeal mixture to the butter / sugar mixture and beat just until blended. 

9. On low speed, mix in lemon peel and juice.

10. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Then transfer batter to the prepared pan.

11. Scatter 1/2 cup raspberries evenly over the top of the cake batter.

12. Bake until cake is golden and toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. 
Remove cake to cool on wire racks for 10 to 15 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula or sharp knife, taking care not to scratch the cake pan Using knife, cut around pan sides to loosen cake. 

13. Turn cake out onto the wire cake rack. Be careful, the cake is delicate when warm. Peel off parchment. Let cool.

The baked cake can be stored, well wrapped at room temperature for a day, and then must be refrigerated for a day because of the fresh fruit in the cake. If it is humid, refrigerate, but it will dry out somewhat. It freezes nicely for a month or more. Thaw in its wrappers at room temperature, or if humid, in the refrigerator.
1. Torte the cake: Using serrated knife cut the cooled cake horizontally into 2 layers. Using bottom of 9-inch tart pan as aid (or a similar size plate) transfer 1 layer to a platter or flat serving dish.

2. Generously brush cake with limoncello.

3. Spread 1/2 of whipped cream over the layer and spread ALMOST to the edges of the cake.

4. Sprinkle whipped cream with about 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted almonds.

5. Scatter 1/2 of the remaining raspberries over the surface of the whipped cream, culling out the most beautiful berries for the top of the cake.

6. Place the second layer on top and gently press it down. The whipped cream should just come to the edges of the cake.


7. Brush the top of the cake with limoncello.
8. Spread the remaining whipped cream on top of the cake, leaving an even ring of cake around its edges.

9. Sprinkle the whipped cream with toasted almonds and mound the remaining raspberries decoratively in the center of the cake.

Refrigerate cake for 1/2 hour before serving so the whipped cream can stiffen. Serve in generous wedges.

Store garnished cake in the refrigerator for a day or so.

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