Raspberry & lemon polenta cake

Give your sponge an Italian twist with Jane Hornby’s easy-to-make polenta cake

  • Prep:15 mins
    Cook:30 mins
  • Serves 8
  • Easy

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 608
  • fat 40g
  • saturates 23g
  • carbs 58g
  • sugars 38g
  • fibre 2g
  • protein 8g
  • salt 0.97g


  • 225g very soft butter
  • 225g caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 175g fine polenta
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • finely grated zest of 1½ lemons
  • 200g frozen raspberries, left frozen
  • icing sugar, or more to taste (optional)
  • 100g soft cheese at room temperature (we used Philadelphia)
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar, or more to taste
  • finely grated zest of ½ lemon, plus a squeeze of juice
  • 142ml tub double cream
  • 100g frozen raspberries, defrosted


Frozen berries
Frozen berries are a fantastic freezer standby. They’re much cheaper than fresh at this time of year and, crucially, were picked at the height of their season (usually in the UK) so they’re full of flavour. To defrost, lay in a single layer on a plate and leave at room temperature for about 20 mins. Treat them a little more carefully than fresh as the freezing process makes them quite delicate.Raspberry coulis
Put ½ jar good-quality raspberry conserve into a small pan with 200g frozen raspberries, then gently heat until the fruit breaks up completely and the mix starts to boil. Press through a sieve and leave to cool. It will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge or freeze for up to 1 month.Polenta
Fine polenta, sometimes called cornmeal, is available in most supermarkets and is made from dried and ground up maize kernels. If you can’t get hold of any, just substitute the polenta and plain flour for 225g self-raising flour and leave out the baking powder. The cake tastes wonderful served as dessert with a raspberry coulis, which is really quick to make – see my simple recipe, bottom right.


  1. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 and butter two 20cm sandwich tins. Line the bottom of the tins with baking paper. In a large bowl, beat the butter and 225g caster sugar together until creamy and light. Gradually add the egg, little by little, until all the egg is worked in and the mix is pale and fluffy. If the mix looks like it’s starting to split, add 1 tsp of the flour, then carry on.

  2. Put the polenta in another bowl, then stir in the flour and baking powder. Beat the vanilla extract and zest into the eggy mix, then fold in the dry ingredients. Spoon half the batter into each tin and level the top. Scatter all but a handful of the raspberries over the mix and poke in gently. Sprinkle one of the sponges with the 1 tbsp sugar. Bake for 20 mins until risen and golden, but still with a little wobble under the crust.

  3. Open the oven, whip out the sugar-crusted sponge and quickly poke the remaining frozen raspberries into the top. Bake both sponges for 10 more mins or until springy in the middle. If this sounds too tricky, just leave the sponges to bake for 30 mins – the cake won’t look as glam, but will still taste great (you can add the leftover berries to the filling instead). Cool in the tin for 10 mins, then cool completely on a rack. Be careful when turning out the raspberry-topped sponge and slide it off its base rather than turning it upside down.

  4. When the sponges are cold, beat the soft cheese with the icing sugar, lemon zest and a little of the juice to loosen if it needs it. Very lightly whip the cream so that it just holds its shape, then fold into the cheese. Fold in the defrosted raspberries. Use to sandwich the sponges together, sugar-crusted on top, and serve dusted with more icing sugar.

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