Manna From Heaven Lemon Polenta Cakes

lemon polenta cake manna from heaven 2

I'm very familiar with Manna from Heaven's Lemon Polenta Cakes. I first tried one  years and years ago and as a bit of a lemon fiend I fell for them instantly. These lemon cakes are sold at cafes and delis everywhere an are as ubiquitous as the other symbol of Australian cafe food, Portuguese custard tarts. When I was contacted about reviewing the book the first question I asked was whether the lemon cake recipe featured and sure enough, it was and better still it was a simple recipe!

The other great thing is that I can imagine you could do this cake with all other types of citrus like orange, lime, blood orange or mandarin or even other tart fruit like passionfruit. It's a sturdy, easy to bake recipe as as Rachel says freezes well and is very firm so it can withstand all sorts of decorations on top as well as being gluten free.

These cakes are almost bite sized (although I'd make them last for 2-3 bites). I'm good at making food last. When  was young we rarely got potato chips and when we would (chicken, crinkle cut of course) I'd eat the chip crinkle by crinkle trying to prolong the flavour whilst simultaneously trying my mother's patience as I'd take a good 10 minutes to eat a bowl of chips. So making these petite baby cakes last 2-3 bites long is child's play.

icing cakes

As for the rest of the book, her story writes like a dream. Whilst living in North Bondi, Rachel Grisewood started making her now famous chocolate crunch slice where it would be sold out of the back of her small Volkswagon. Years later her goods are now sold in cafes, delis and in stores nationwide and on Qantas First and Business Class flights. Now she is onto her fifth kitchen and has a staff of 30 that lunches together every day.

manna cupcake

Rachel generously shares her recipes for Chocolate Crunch and Lemon Polenta cake, her two outstanding sellers. Measurements are given in metric and imperial-even egg weight is given in quantities, then metric and then imperial so exactists will appreciate that. And lemon enthusiasts like me will appreciate this recipe.

Lemon Polenta Cakes

manna from heaven cookbook lemon polenta cake 5

  • 225g/7 1/8 oz butter at room temperature

  • 225g/7 1/8 oz caster or superfine sugar

  • 3 eggs (165g/5 1.2 oz) lightly beaten

  • 110g /3 3/4oz ground almond

  • 110g /3 3/4oz shredded coconut long thread

  • 110g /3 3/4oz fine polenta

  • finely grated zest of 2 lemon

  • 2.5 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract


  • 225g/ 71/8oz icing confectioner's sugar, sieved

  • 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice

  • Sugar flowers to decorate (optional)

lemon dry

Step 1 - Set the oven to 150c/300F. If making this as a large cake grease and line a 24cm (9.5 inch) round cake tin or if you are using mini muffin trays, butter them well and place a little square or circle of parchment on the base as shown to prevent any sticking. Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer for 2 minutes or until lump free (the mixture does not need to be light and fluffy). Slowly beat in the eggs, the fold in the ground almonds, polenta, lemon zest, lemon juice, baking powder and vanilla.

two thirds full
Fill them 2/3 or 3/4 of the way up

cakes baked
The baked cakes

Step 2 - Pour into cake tin. If you are using a mini muffin tray fill them 2/3 of the way up. Use the back of a spoon to flatten the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes for mini muffins or 30-50 minutes for a whole cake until they are just coming away from the side of the tin. Remove the squares of parchment.

cakes removed from tin

Step 3 - To make the icing,  mix the sieved icing sugar and lemon juice in a bowl until smooth. Spoon over the cake/s letting the icing dribble down the sides a bit. Leave the icing to set.

manna from heaven cookbook lemon polenta 3

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