Lemon Polenta Syrup Cakes

. May, 2016
Photography by Claire Aldous.
Lemon Polenta Syrup Cakes

A cake with mashed potatoes! When I saw this on an episode of River Cottage I just had to make it. It’s beautiful and I’ve just tweaked it a bit and added instant polenta in place of the almonds and topped it with slices of sticky caramelised lemon.


250 grams floury potatoes, weight after peeling
175 grams butter, soft but not melted
200 grams caster sugar
finely grated zest 3 large lemons
4 eggs
175 grams instant polenta
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons, sliced ½ thick, pips removed (you need 16 slices)
½ cup icing sugar

16 x ½ cup capacity tins lined with baking paper (I used two muffin trays)


Preheat the oven to 175˚C.

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until very tender. Drain and place back in the pan to drive off any moisture. Press the potatoes through a sieve to get them really smooth. Spread on to a plate and cool.

Beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest together until very pale, light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of polenta with each egg to stop the mixture curdling.

Add the salt and baking powder into the remaining polenta, then gently beat into the egg mixture along with the cooled potato. Spoon the mixture into the tins and bake for 20 minutes until golden.

Syrup: Put the sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the hot syrup over the top of each cake.

Lemons: Sift the icing sugar onto a large plate. Coat both sides of the lemons in the sugar. Heat the oil in a non-stick sauté pan and cook the lemons for 6-7 minutes over a medium heat until the sugar has caramelized and the lemons are golden, turning frequently.

Lift them out of the pan and place one slice on top of each cake. The cakes will keep for 3–4 days in an airtight container. Delicious served with lemon curd folded through thick plain yoghurt. Makes 16 cakes