The River Cafe’s polenta, almond and lemon cake




The River Cafe’s polenta, almond and lemon cake

When Richard [Ruth’s — The River Cafe co-creator — husband], opposite, has this cake he pours a glass of grappa over the top. In Vernazza, we have it for breakfast at Gianni Franzi’s with a cappuccino. In winter, we serve this cake with caramelized blood oranges and crème fraîche.


  • unsalted butter , for the pan
  • 1 lb (450g) unsalted butter , softened
  • 1 lb (450g) granulated sugar
  • 1 lb (450g) ground almonds
  • 2 tsp good vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs
  • finely grated zest of 4 lemons
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 lb (225g) polenta
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt


  • Preheat the oven to 320°F (160°C). Butter and line a 12-inch (30cm) round and 3-inch (7.5cm) deep cake pan with parchment paper.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer until pale and light.
  • Stir in the ground almonds and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the lemon zest and juice, the polenta, baking powder and salt.
  • Spoon into the prepared pan. Bake for 45–50 minutes or until the cake is set and deep brown on top. Cool in the pan.

Excerpted from River Café London: Thirty Years of Recipes and the Story of a Much-Loved Restaurant by Ruth Rogers, Rose Gray, Sian Wyn Owen and Joseph Trivelli. Copyright © Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray 1995. Published in the United States by Borzoi Books an imprint of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.