Delicious Italian gluten free cakes

podere patrignone baking gluten free cakes lemon nut ricotta chocolate baking italian food

We see an ever-larger need for gluten-free recipes here at our agriturismo in Chianti, Podere Patrignone. Gluten intolerance is on the increase, particularly amongst our guests from the US. Some think it’s down to how wheat is grown in the US, with blanket heavy use of pesticides and herbicides. Many with a gluten intolerance back home have no problems eating bread and pasta in Italy, so maybe there’s some truth in this? In any case, with these guests in mind, and because we have a few friends who are coeliac, I have recently made these two 100% gluten-free cakes. And they are seriously yummy.

Lemon, almond & polenta cake

  • Makes a 20cm/8 inch round cake
  • 225g/8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 225g/8 oz caster sugar
  • 225g/8 oz blanched almonds, finely ground
  • seeds from a vanilla pod
  • 3 eggs
  • zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1
  • 125g/4.5 oz polenta (preferably quick cook)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Firstly, preheat your oven to 175 degrees c/350 Fahrenheit. Butter and line a 20cm/8 inch cake tin.

Whisk together the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds until they are pale and fluffy.

Add one egg at a time and whisk thoroughly to incorporate.

Whisk in the remaining ingredients, sieving the baking powder if necessary.

Scrape into your prepared tin and pop into the pre-heated oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.


Ricotta & nut cake with chocolate

  • 150g/5.5 oz shelled hazelnuts
  • 100g/3.5 oz shelled walnuts
  • 250g/9oz fresh ricotta, whisked with a fork to lighten
  • 225g/8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 250g/9 oz sugar (I use my vanilla sugar….I keep any spent vanilla pods in a jar with caster sugar for a subtle flavour)
  • 8 eggs, separated
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 65g/2.25 oz rice flour or other gluten-free flour
  • 150g/6 oz 70% dark chocolate, coarsely grated

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees c/350 Fahrenheit.

Butter and line a 30 x 5 cm/12 x 2 inch loaf tin.

Roast the hazelnuts for about ten minutes and then pour them on to a clean, dry tea towel. Rub them until most of the skins have come off (don’t be too fussy….life is too short!).

Blitz the hazelnuts and walnuts in a food processor until you have a breadcrumb like consistency.

Whisk together the butter and sugar until they are pale and fluffy.

Whisk in the egg yolks, one or two at a time.

Fold in the ricotta, nuts, zest and sieved flour until well mixed.

Whisk the egg whites to form soft peaks and then fold these in too.

Careful spoon the mix in to the prepared tin and bake for about an hour, or until set and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes and then sprinkle over the grated chocolate which will melt.

Leave in the tin to cool completely before removing and serving. I ate these with fresh strawberries soaked in the juice of the oranges, vanilla and cinnamon. Great for breakfast!


  1. Deborah Reese

    These look seriously yummy! Thanks so much for sharing!
    I’m not seeing Almonds as an ingredient in the top cake. Is there something missing?

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