Polenta Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Whipped Honey Mascarpone is about as Italian as you can get with this lightly sweetened lemony dessert.
I have been converted to the ways of olive oils. I can’t go back to buying anything in a grocery store here in the US. My friend Dave has turned me on to the most amazing oils imported from his friend’s olive oil farm in Umbria, Italy.
I love baking and cooking with olive oil. I mainly use it as a finishing oil, in salad dressings and marinades. It’s such a mild flavored oil and it really goes great with everything. It’s a wonderful substitute for other oils or butter in baking as well. It keeps baked goods moist without adding too strong of a flavor.
For this cake I used a lemon olive oil from Luigi Tega. The lemon olive oil is perfect in this cake. The quality and flavor is like nothing I have ever had before. I can’t go back to any other kind of olive oil ever again. I love lemon desserts and when I first got my oils I bought from my friend, cake was the first thing I had in mind to make.
I decided if I was going to use an amazingly high quality olive oil in this cake I should go all out with other Italian ingredients.
I tested this recipe several times with regular all purpose flour (Gold medal brand), Italian 00 flour (affiliate link) (Italy’s version of AP flour), coarser polenta and quick cooking polenta.
I also tested it with and without mascarpone cheese. Mascarpone is a must. My family has eaten a lot of polenta lemon olive oil cake these past few weeks as I worked to get it perfect.
I made the cake in a springform pan (affiliate link), the kind most often used for cheesecakes. I love making single layer cakes in these pans since they are easier to release.
I just run a knife or thin metal spatula around the edges to unstick the cake if it sticks before releasing the clasp on the side of the pan.
I love the way my house smells anytime anything lemon flavored is being cooked or baked. It is one of the best smells.
I bumped up the lemon flavor in this cake with lemon zest and juice as well as the lemon olive oil. The more lemon the better, I say.
The cake is amazing as is on its own but I decided to add a little whipped mascarpone topping. I found these candied lemon wheels at Trader Joes and knew they would look great on the cake. I whipped the mascarpone with heavy cream, honey and a little vanilla extract.
You could also add lemon to this as well for even more lemon flavor. I love the way honey and lemon taste together so that is why I used that as my sweetener of choice.
I love the texture and crumb of this cake as well as the fact that it isn’t overly sweet. I favor less sweet desserts than more sweet.
I like to be able to eat a whole piece rather than after two bites it is way too sweet. The flavor of the olive oil in this cake is mild and adds to the moistness along with the mascarpone.
This polenta lemon olive oil cakes is one of the best cakes I have made in a long time. As much as I love making fancy layer cakes, a simple cake like this one where the flavors really shine are my favorite to make.
A few notes about the recipe before you get started:
- Use the BEST quality olive oil you can get your hands on. I highly suggest ordering from my friend David. ( not an affiliate link, he is just a friend of mine who know’s his stuff when it comes to olive oil)
- If you don’t have lemon olive oil use regular and add in a little more lemon juice. Another tablespoon or so should do the trick. More zest would work too.
- I only tested this recipe in a springform pan. If you don’t have one a 9 inch round cake pan with 3 inch high sides will work best. The cake wont rise as well in a 2 inch high side pan
- You don’t have to decorate it with the candied lemon slices. You don’t even have to pipe the whipped mascarpone onto the cake like I did. Just cut a slice and dollop some on with a spoon
- This cake is best eaten same day it is made. If you need to store it I suggest wrapping well with plastic wrap or keeping in a cake dome and eating within a day or two.
- 1 1/4 C AP or Italian 00 Flour ( 150g/5.4 ounces)*
- 3/4 C instant Polenta (105g/3.7 ounces)
- 2 tsp baking powder (10g)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt (4g)
- 1 C granulated sugar (200g/7 ounces)
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 3 large eggs, room temp
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 C mascarpone cheese, room temperature ( 4oz)
- 1/2 C Lemon Olive Oil ** (118 ml, 4 oz)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the topping:
- 6 ounces Mascarpone, cold
- 6 ounces whipping cream, cold
- 1/3 C honey
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- candied lemon wheels ( optional)
Preheat oven to 325 Deg F. Prepare a 9 inch springform pan. Line the bottom with a parchment circle and lightly oil the parchment.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, polenta, baking powder and salt. Set aside
In a bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl combine the sugar and lemon zest and rub between your fingers until the zest is mixed in well and the sugar is fragrant. Add in the eggs and mix on medium high until thickened and light yellow in color.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the lemon juice, mascarpone, oil and vanilla extract and mix again until well combined. Add in the flour mixture and mix on low until no streaks of flour remain, do not over mix. pour batter into prepared pan and bake 30-35 min until golden yellow in color and the center bounces back when lightly pressed or a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with just a few crumbs
Let cool for 5 minutes in pan, gently run a knife around edges to release cake, release springform and transfer cake to a wire cooling rack to cool at least 20 minutes before serving. Can be served warm or at room temperature.
While the cake is baking prepare the topping.
In a cold, stainless steel bowl whip the mascarpone cheese until light, about one minute. Add in the cold whipping cream and whip until semi-stiff peaks have formed. Add in the honey and vanilla extract and whip again. Taste and add more honey if desired.
Pipe swirls or rosettes around the edges of the cake and decorate with candied lemon circles. Serve.
*Italian 00 Flour is a soft wheat lower protein, lower starch and lower gluten flour. It can be substituted for your favorite all purpose flour in this recipe or any cake recipe. I used Caputo 00 flour from Amazon.
** You can substitute regular extra virgin olive oil if you don’t have lemon, and add in another tbsp of zest and juice to the batter for the extra lemon flavor.
If you don’t feel like being fancy with piping on the topping or adding candid lemon wheels just spoon a dollop or two of the whipped honey mascarpone over a slice and top with a little lemon zest
(There are Amazon affiliate links in this post. If you click on them and make a purchase via that link I will receive a small amount of affiliate income. You are no way obligated to make a purchase via my links. I am just disclosing that they are present in this post)