> Skip to content

Recipe  •  31 August 2022


Sicilian Lemon Polenta Pound Cake

A delicious sweet treat that pairs perfectly with the book it was inspired by – straight from the author's kitchen.

Catherine Newman, author of We All Want Impossible Things, has shared her delectable recipe for this Sicilian Lemon Polenta Pound Cake with us. We're delighted to let you all in on the secret, too!

Here it is! The holy grail of cakes! And it’s so lovely and moist and lemony that it doesn’t even need a lemon drizzle—though who knows what Edi would say.

  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • ½ cup butter (I use salted), melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup instant polenta or medium-grind cornmeal
  • ¾ cup almond flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or ½ teaspoon table salt)
  • Icing sugar (optional)
  • Candied lemon slice (see below—but these are fully optional)

Heat the oven to 350 F / 180 C. Grease a round 9-inch (24-cm) springform cake tin and line the bottom with parchment paper. (This is easy to do if you remember to trace the bottom of the tin before you’ve greased it, and less easy to do afterwards.)

In a stand mixer or with a sturdy wooden spoon, beat the ricotta, sugar, and lemon zest until smooth. 

Add the butter and beat again until smooth, then add the eggs one at a time and—say it with me—beat until smooth.

Whisk together the dry ingredients, then add these to the mixing bowl in two or 3 additions, beating until just mixed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and bake until the top is golden and the cake is springy when you poke it and you get an all-around fully-baked vibe from it, around 35-40 minutes. A toothpick or cake tester poked into the center should come out clean.

Cool on a wire rack before sifting a bit of icing sugar around the outer edge and topping with the fancy but optional candied lemon slices.

Candied Lemon Slices

Cut the ends off of 1 large, firm, attractive lemon and squeeze any juice out of them into a wide pot. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of white sugar to the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, slice the rest of the lemon as thin as you can without cutting your whole hand off in the process. Add the lemon slices to the boiling pot, turn the heat down a bit, and simmer for 15 minutes, turning them over every now and then to keep yourself occupied. Fish the lemon slices out and cool on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Note that now you have a lemony kind of syrup and wonder if you could make a cocktail out of it. (You could!)

Now that you've baked your cake, why not pre-order the book that inspired the recipe? We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman hits shelves on 15 November 2022 and pairs perfectly with this sweet treat.

Feature Title

We All Want Impossible Things
'One of my favourite books ever' Marian Keyes; 'Dazzling' Rachel Joyce; 'You'll devour every word' Katherine Heiny; for fans of Nora Ephron and Sorrow and Bliss, a heart-wrenching, laugh-out-loud celebration of friendship at its imperfect and radiant best.
Read more

More features

See all recipes
Super-soft courgettes with harissa and lemon

A courgette recipe that will convert even the most courgette-iffy eaters.

Plant-based pho

Try your hand at this delicious recipe from Sahara Rose Ketabi.

Sesame ginger miso bowl

Perfect for summer, enjoy this quick and delicious recipe from Sahara Rose Katabi.

Baked orzo with mozzarella and oregano

A luxurious take on the pasta bake.

Turmeric fried eggs with tamarind dressing

A simple but delicious egg recipe that’s perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Jenny's famous mince pies from Ranger's Apprentice

Learn how to make the mince pies that Jenny brings to the Harvest Day picnic with her fellow apprentices.

Zucchini Noodles with Thai Pesto

A great make-ahead lunch or picnic dish.

Honey orange traycake

Almonds, vanilla, yoghurt & a kiss of rose water

The Best-Ever Chocolate Brownies

These are the perfect gooey, chocolatey addition to any sleepover (or afternoon tea!)

Poached wagyu beef short-rib with coriander and horseradish relish

A delectable summer recipe from The Agrarian Kitchen.

Books recommended by Marian Keyes

If you love Marian Keyes, you might also enjoy these books. See the titles she’s praised publicly and get ready to add them to your ‘must read’ list.

How 7 designers created the most beautiful book covers of 2022

We talked to some of our graphic designers to learn more about the amazing book covers they created this year. Find out what runs through the mind of a designer as they bring a book to life through design.

Looking for more recipes?

See all recipes