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Mar 15, 2005 01:26 AM

Hey Carb Lover! - Lemon Polenta Cake Update

  • n

I decided to make another Lemon Polenta cake today. I still didn't have any plain yogurt on hand, but I did have some left over ricotta. It's the Cantare brand of whole milk ricotta that I picked up at the no-frills supermarket. It's surprisingly good, and cheap to boot. Anyway, the cake turned out better this time: much more moist (though I still wouldn't say incredibly so) and tender. Very small bits of cheese remained as white dots in the cake, which I suppose may be a downside for some but I don't mind it. Here again is the recipe as I made it.

Lemon Polenta Cake
Adapted from John Ash's "From Earth to Table"

2/3 cup stone-ground cornmeal and 1/3 cup coarse polenta
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 2 egg whites
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp room temperature butter
1/2 cup fresh whole milk ricotta
1 1/2 tbsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Sift cornmeal, polenta, flour, baking powder, salt.
In another bowl, beat sugar, eggs, and eggwhites. Beat in oil, butter, ricotta, zest, and juice. Beat until smooth. Fold in dry ingredients.
Pour in 8" cake pan lined with oiled parchment. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for 15 minutes, remove from pan, and let cool to room temperature before serving.

I topped it with some of the Spiced Apricot sauce from last time, plus a bit more ricotta mixed with a pinch of sugar. Much improved and very delicious.



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  1. Thanks for the update, Nick! Your persistence is admired and appreciated. Ricotta sounds like a wonderful substitute over yogurt and probably enhances moisture.

    About the small bits: did you blend the ricotta first before adding or just add as is from the container? I would prefer a more blended look so wondering if that might help.

    Also, how do you think this would work in a loaf pan? Thanks.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Carb Lover

      My pleasure. As I said before, I've been really enjoying polenta in many forms for the past few weeks.

      I just scooped a half cup of ricotta from the container and put it straight in the mixing bowl with everything else. I used an electric hand mixer for quite a while, but it couldn't break down the tiny little lumps of cheese. I suppose a more careful procedure could eliminate the lumps.

      It should work in a loaf pan. My only concern is that because it will be thicker, it will take longer to bake and may become dry. But it's worth a shot. I don't have a loaf pan, so you'll have to take it from here.


      1. re: nja

        Ok, I'll take the baton from here and make this in loaf cake form in the next week. May add some chopped rosemary as well.

        One more question: do you remember what brands of cornmeal and polenta you used? I have a coarse polenta that I bought from Made in France (not sure of brand), but need to get some cornmeal. Thanks.

        1. re: Carb Lover

          The cornmeal is the ubiquitous Albers. The polenta came from the bulk bin at Rainbow Co-op and is organic. John Ash claims that in America one can buy stone-ground cornmeal and the much coarser polenta. However, polenta sold in Italy is not as coarse as American polenta, it's somewhere between the two American products. His recipe calls for blending the two to approximate the Italian texture. I like the crunchiness of this polenta so that's why I upped it from 25% to 33% in the recipe.