Italian lemon cake: gluten-free, no dairy

Italian lemon cake: gluten-free, no dairy

Thinking of an Italian summer vibe then this flourless Italian lemon cake.  This lemon cake recipe is gluten-free as it is made with ground almonds and polenta and calls for boiling the lemon first to soften. In true southern Italian style, there's no butter in this recipe only olive oil which is added to the lemon and then blitzed to pureé, to create a jam-like and lovely deep citrus buzz. There's no baking powder or baking soda in this recipe the eggs do all the work. Ensure you whip the eggs and sugar well before adding all the other ingredients.

This cake is even better the following day therefore it is a perfect recipe to prepare ahead of time. It also freezers very well. Cut in slices and freeze. Defrost in the fridge before enjoying it. Serve with fresh berries and a little vanilla ice cream or cream.

Inspired by Jamie Oliver's Italian Amalfi Lemon and polenta cake; I've lowered the olive oil, changed the syrup and omitted the mascarpone cream cheese topping.  

Takes = 15 mins prep.
Bakes = 50 mins
Makes = 10-12 pieces
Tin = 20cm spring-from 8 inch

Only 6 Ingredients

  • One lemon
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil – 200 ml (3/4 cup)
  • Large eggs – 4
  • Caster Sugar – 250g (1 cup)
  • Ground almonds – 250g (1 + 1/4 cup)
  • Fine Polenta – 100g (1/2 cup)

Sugar Syrup (optional)

  • Icing/powdered sugar – 75g (1/2 cup)
  • Lemon juice from one whole lemon


  1. Boil the lemon then simmer in a large pot of water for about 20 minutes until soft. Keep an eye on the water level, add a little more water if the level drops too much.
  2. Drain off the water, remove any seeds then cut into quarters.  Place the lemon quarters skin and all in a food processor with the olive oil and blitz until smooth.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180˚C, 160˚C fan and grease then paper line the base of the 20cm (8 inches) cake tin.
  4. Whisk the eggs and sugar with electric beaters or on your whisk attachment on a stand mixer for at least 3 minutes until very pale in colour. Don't rush this step. Swap the beater to the paddle attachment then add the lemon oil mixture (I forgot this in my video). Then gently mix the ground almonds and polenta for 2 x 20-sec bursts until combined you may need to stop and scrape the bowl. Pour into your prepared cake tin then bake for 40-45 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin then remove to cool completely on a rack.
  5. Make the optional lemon syrup. Gently heat the icing sugar (powdered) and lemon juice. Simmer for 5 minutes. Allow cool completely.  
  6. Serve the cake once completely cool. Poke a few holes in the cake and drizzle over the sugar syrup or skip this and sprinkle with a dusting of icing/powdered sugar. Perfect enjoyed with fresh berries and a small serving of cream or ice cream.