Recipe: Sticky Gluten-Free Lemon Cake

updated May 1, 2019
Sticky Gluten-Free Lemon Cake

Almond flour and polenta form the base of this gluten-free cake that gets a double dose of flavor from lemon zest and lemon syrup.

Serves8 to 12

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Perk up a gloomy afternoon by baking this easy gluten-free lemon cake. The best part of this rustic cake comes at the end, when it’s doused with a fresh lemon syrup so that every bite is moist and bright with happy lemon flavor.

There’s no need to make a gluten-free flour blend with hard-to-find ingredients, though — just grab some almond flour and polenta, along with a few other baking staples and a big hit of lemon zest, and this weeknight-friendly treat is practically, well, a cakewalk!

(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Keeping It Warm Is Key

Warm cake and warm syrup are the two things that make this lemony cake so moist and delicious. Make sure you poke plenty of holes in the cake so that the syrup gets a chance to soak into every single bite of cake as it cools. I know it’ll be hard to be patient, but wait until the cake cools completely so that all the flavors really get a chance to meld and you’ll be rewarded.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Serving This Cake

This cake is baked in a springform pan for easy removal for slicing (once the syrup goes on, it’s hard to remove from the pan in one piece). You can certainly make it in a regular cake pan, but it will probably be best to cut and serve it right out of the pan.

This cake is great on its own, but even better with a dollop of pillowy whipped cream on top!

Sticky Gluten-Free Lemon Cake

Almond flour and polenta form the base of this gluten-free cake that gets a double dose of flavor from lemon zest and lemon syrup.

Serves 8 to 12

Nutritional Info


For the cake:

  • 2 cups

    almond flour

  • 3/4 cup


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon


  • 14 tablespoons

    (7 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 3

    large eggs

  • Finely grated zest of 2 medium lemons

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

For the syrup and serving:

  • 1/2 cup

    powdered sugar

  • 3 tablespoons

    freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • Whipped cream, for serving (optional)


Make the cake:

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Coat the paper and sides of the pan with butter; set aside.

  2. Place the almond flour, polenta, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine; set aside.

  3. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed until lightened in color, about 3 minutes.

  4. With the mixer on medium speed, add 1/3 of the almond flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Beat in 1 egg until incorporated. Continue beating in and alternating the remaining almond flour mixture and eggs in 2 more additions. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

  5. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract and beat until just combined. Transfer the batter to the pan and spread into an even layer.

  6. Bake until the edges of the cake have begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 40 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and make the syrup.

Make the syrup:

  1. Place the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the powdered sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup is warm. Remove from the heat.

  2. Using a toothpick, poke holes all over the cake, spacing the holes about 1-inch apart. Slowly drizzle the warm syrup evenly over the cake. Let the cake cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the sides of the pan, cut into wedges, and serve with whipped cream if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at cool room temperature for up to 3 days. It can also frozen for up to 1 month if wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap, then wrapped in aluminum foil. Thaw at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours before serving.