Pistachio, Polenta and Lemon Cakes

Extracted From Ainsley's Good Mood Food by Ainsley Harriott

These delectable, gluten-free cakes are moist, sticky and yummy – just perfect for an afternoon treat. There is no baking powder in the recipe so it is important to beat everything well.

Serves 9-12


  • 200g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 100g shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 100g fine polenta
  • Zest and juice of 1?2 lemon

For The Lemon Syrup:

  • 40g sugar Zest juice of 21?2 lemons

To Decorate:

  • 10 tbsp icing sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp shelled unsalted pistachios, half finely ground, and half roughly chopped

To Make:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Grease 9 rectangular cake moulds or mini loaf tins and line with baking parchment. (Alternatively, grease and line a 12-hole cake tin.)
  2. Place the pistachios in a food processor and blitz until finely and evenly ground.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, and using an electric hand-held mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until pale. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat well again. Add the eggs, one at a time, continuing to beat really well after each addition. Fold in the ground pistachios and the ground almonds. Add the polenta, and the lemon zest and juice. Mix gently until combined.
  4. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared moulds. Place on a baking tray and bake for 20–25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of one comes out clean.
  5. Meanwhile, make the lemon syrup. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar with the lemon zest and juice. Bring to the boil and stir until the sugar has melted. Remove from the heat to cool a little.
  6. Prick small holes in the top of the cooked cakes with a skewer and pour 1–2 teaspoons of the warm (make sure it is not hot) syrup over each cake. Leave to cool for 15–20 minutes to allow the syrup to soak in.
  7. In a bowl, mix the icing sugar with enough lemon juice to make a thick but runny icing. When the cakes have cooled, remove them from the moulds and spoon or drizzle over the icing. Decorate with a sprinkling of ground and chopped pistachios and the lemon zest.

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