Sunday Recipe: Olive Oil and Polenta Cake

Because olive oil and sea salt are the perfect combination. 

Everyone has to have a couple of go-to cake recipes. Because when it’s Sunday afternoon and you’ve spent all morning drinking coffee and reading The New York Times (you’re still impressed by this week’s Modern Love section, and weren’t Bill Cunningham’s photos great this week?), you better have something to whip up for dessert when your friend throws an impromptu get together. The olive oil polenta cake is mine.

It has been named many things, and I have certainly been made fun of for putting olive oil and sea salt together in a dessert (red foodie flag), but at the end of the day, it’s one of the simplest, yet complex tasting, cakes that I know of. With the lemon zest, it’s also perfect for perking up in the middle of winter.

The almond flour makes it 100% gluten free, which will please all your gluten intolerant friends, and of course, it’s full of cornmeal and olive oil, so if you’ve been looking for a dessert that you can attempt to justify eating more than one piece of, feel free to do it with this one.

Olive Oil and Polenta Cake


  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup almond meal or finely ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter (1.5 sticks)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Juice and zest of one Meyer lemon
  • Zest of 1/2 an orange


  1. Beat eggs in a bowl and add sugar.
  2. In another bowl combine dry ingredients.
  3. In a saucepan melt butter. Add to egg and sugar batter and add in dry ingredients. Mix in rest of ingredients.
  4. Pour batter into a greased 9.5 inch pan and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350F, or until golden brown.
  5. Let cool and dust with powdered sugar if you’re feeling super fancy.

Note: because this cake is dense, it tastes better after it has sat for awhile, so let cool completely, and maybe even stash it away for the next day. Nothing is better than this cake for breakfast.

Every month on Sunday Recipe we bring you a new theme of recipes, perfect for whipping up on a Sunday. For February it’s all about easy things to make for a day with friends. Enjoy!

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.