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orange polenta cake on a plate with a slice carved out
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4.76 from 41 votes

Orange Polenta Cake (gluten free)

This delicious golden gluten-free Orange Polenta Cake is moist, rich and bursting with zesty orange flavor. It's easy to make as it has no layers, no filling and no icing. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings (change as needed): 10
Author: Cheryl


  • 2 1/4 cups (225 grams) finely ground almonds or almond flour if needed, replace with almond meal (courser)
  • 2/3 cup (100 grams) cornmeal or polenta I prefer fine cornmeal as the texture is less grainy than coarse cornmeal.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder gluten free
  • 1 cup (200 grams) white sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) (225 grams)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest from 2 medium oranges (plus zest from a 3rd orange for garnish)
  • Optional garnishes: chopped pistachios, additional zest, whipped cream (or yogurt or creme fraiche)

Orange Syrup (half will be used for pouring on cake, half for serving)

  • juice from 2 whole oranges (navel oranges, blood oranges or any other kind) (about 1/2 cup fresh orange juice)
  • 2 tablespoon honey


  • PREHEAT OVEN TO 350F. Grease an 8 inch (20 cm) round, square or springform tin with butter or oil spray. Line bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  • COMBINE FIRST 4 INGREDIENTS: Mix together ground almonds, cornmeal/polenta, cardamom and baking powder in a large bowl with a fork or whisk.
  • PREPARE BATTER: In a separate mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy using an electric mixer (hand held is fine). Add one egg at a time, beating well after each egg. Add half the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat just until mixed. Repeat with other half. Fold in vanilla and zest of 2 oranges.
  • BAKE: Pour batter (it will be very thick) into prepared tin. Bake for 40 minutes or until cake test/toothpick comes out clean. Remove pan and let cool for 10 minutes.
  • MAKE SYRUP: While cake is baking, bring orange juice and honey to a boil in a small saucepan, then lower to medium heat and briskly simmer until reduced by about half and slightly thickened - about 8-10 minutes. It will still be quite liquidy. Let it cool.
  • FINISH CAKE: Scrape a knife around sides of the pan to loosen cake. Invert onto plate, then invert it back to a serving plate so that the top is facing up. Poke holes through top of the cake all over with skewer or toothpick. Pour about HALF of syrup on cake, allowing it to absorb into the cake. Sprinkle orange zest on top to decorate as well as chopped pistachios if using. Serve with whipped cream, yogurt or crème fraiche if desired - and a drizzle of remaining syrup if you like. 


To Make Ahead/Store:
  • The cake can be made ahead and kept covered in the fridge. I suggest bringing it to room temperature before serving or warming it for a few seconds in the microwave.
  • The cake can also be frozen. If freezing, omit the zest and pistachios (if using) and add them just before serving.
Nutrition values are estimates and include pistachios for garnish. 
Calories: 465kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 65mg | Potassium: 88mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 673IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 2mg