Rosemary and Lemon Polenta Cake

lemon rosemary polenta cakeI have spent a lot of time this past week out in the garden and it is really starting to look like a different place. Now when I look out of the kitchen window I see a pretty, restful space I want to spend time in, rather than a seemingly insurmountable task. It’s taken a lot of hard work but it will soon just need maintaining rather than a complete overhaul. One of the things I am looking forward to is growing fruit and vegetables again. It used to be high on my list of priorities but has slipped down over the last few years. I have a little greenhouse out in the front garden which housed a broken running machine that went in there as a temporary solution when I moved in last July and has only just moved out… I am hoping to use it for its proper purpose instead this year. I already have a blackcurrant and a blueberry bush that seem to have survived the move and my parents discovered several blackcurrant bushes when they blitzed the garden last summer. I have a small pear tree and of course my quince. I think I’ve found some wild strawberries as well although the chance of getting any fruit before the birds do is minimal.

rosemary flower decorationA little while ago I took enough notice of my garden to realise I was walking past a large rosemary bush every time I went in or out. I hadn’t realised that rosemary has such beautiful flowers: these are a bright purple but I also have a couple of very neglected plants in pots whose flowers are much paler so I assume different varieties have slightly different coloured flowers.

rosemary flowers

How did I miss this?

And it turns out that they are edible too so are perfect for decorating cakes or salads. I read a post on The Kitchen Witch’s blog about edible flowers and she mentioned how beautiful rosemary flowers look against lemon cakes. Which got me thinking about how to use my flowers: there is nothing more exciting than using food straight from your garden, even if it is something as simple as a flower. A polenta cake seemed suitably rustic and then instead of just using rosemary as decoration I thought it would be good in combination with the lemon. Which turns out to be the case.

lemon zest and chopped rosemary

If only I could grow lemons too…

The flowers will wilt and lose their vibrant colour but when they do it is easy enough to take them off and replace them with fresh ones: if your cake should last more than a day, of course. I used a teaspoon and a half of rosemary so it is quite a subtle flavour but it is enough to give it a bit of interest. As it doesn’t contain gluten this is a crumbly cake, but although it cuts well into slices, it does tend to crumble a little when you eat it: next time I am going to try adding a teaspoon of xanthan gum and see if that makes a difference. Alternatively, if you don’t need it to be gluten free, just try substituting some or all of the ground almonds for plain flour.

lemon rosemary polenta cakeRecipe


150g butter

150g golden caster sugar

2 large or 3 medium eggs

Zest and juice of a large lemon

1½ teaspoons rosemary, finally chopped

125g polenta

125g ground almonds (or flour, or a combination)


100g icing sugar, sieved

Juice of half a lemon plus water to mix

Rosemary flowers to decorate


Set the oven to 180ºC and grease, and line the base of a loose-based 8″ sandwich tin.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time and beat to incorporate.

Stir in the lemon zest and juice and the chopped rosemary.

Add the polenta and ground almonds (or flour) and fold in carefully.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level gently.

polenta cake

Ready to bake

Bake for around 30-35 minutes, until risen, browned and firm to the touch.

rosemary polenta cake

Leave to cool in the tin for a while

Leave to cool in the tin for about ten minutes before removing and leaving to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

When the cake is completely cold make the icing:

Put the icing sugar into a bowl and add the lemon juice. Mix well and add enough cold water, no more than about a teaspoon at a time, until you get a thick pouring consistency.

Decorate the cake by drizzling the icing from a spoon back and forth across the top.

lemon rosemary polenta cakeDecorate with freshly picked rosemary flowers.

rosemary lemon polenta cakePerfect for enjoying in the sun in your garden.

Categories: Baking, Cakes, Desserts, Gardening, gluten free baking, Recipes, Uncategorized, Using Alternatives

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

23 replies

  1. My mouth is watering looking at this, next time you visit please bring this one! Xxxx

  2. This is beautiful. Love the colours!

  3. I love the way you drizzled the icing on. What a beautiful cake!

  4. Wow that looks amazing, super impressed with your gardening as well.

  5. When I’ve used polenta, even with a combination of flour, the bread always turned out more crumbly than usual. Part of the fun. As it was always slightly crunchy – perfect when toasted. Anyway, love the patterns of the icing.

  6. ah i love rosemary in should be used more often, not just in savoury food.
    Lemon and rosemary sounds really great together! I love my lemon and rosemary bundt cake..haven’t tried making it with polenta but your cake does look excellent! love how you decorated them with rosemary flowers! So pretty!

  7. Your post made me get up and into the garden today and I feel much better for it. Now I just need to make some of that delicious cake!

  8. What a lovely cake! Perfect to celebrate spring. Funny, but the birds totally ignore my wild strawberries. Aren’t quince blossoms lovely + you get great fruits from the tree.

  9. Looks like sunshine on a plate. So pretty and summery. Definitely to be enjoyed outside 🙂

  10. Just baked this lovely cake with some chopped pear and reduced amount of sugar (95g, as I didn’t have more and you know I don’t like too sweet stuff). Can’t wait to taste it. Thank you for your inspiration!


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