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The first disclaimer we need to make about this Lemon, Zucchini & Polenta Traybake is: no, you can’t taste the zucchini.

The second is: it’s really, really good. The polenta base soaks up all of the lemon syrup making it extra (sorry) moist and the rose petals and pistachios scattered on top give it a fragrant, nutty finish. A recipe from our friend, Mike Smart.

Lemon, Zucchini & Polenta Traybake

Recipe by Claire Ptak and Henry Dimbleby
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Baked Goods, Dessert
Servings 16


  • 200 g golden caster sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 200 g rapeseed oil
  • 120 g fine polenta
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 150 g zucchini grated
  • 20 g shelled pistachios finely chopped
  • dried rose petals for sprinkling


  • 50 ml lemon juice
  • 50 g golden caster sugar


  • Heat the oven to 180°C and line a 25 x 25cm deep baking tin with baking paper.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and lemon zest, until the sugar is the consistency of damp sand. Add the eggs and oil to the mixture and beat until smooth and well combined. Add the polenta, ground almonds, baking powder and salt and fold in until well combined, then fold in the zucchini.
  • Scrape the batter into the lined tin and bake for 25–30 minutes, until just beginning to turn pale golden.
  • Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan, heat the lemon juice and caster sugar, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved and a warm syrup has formed.
  • Evenly sprinkle the chopped pistachios and dried rose petals over the surface of the still-warm cake, then use a spoon to drizzle over the warm lemon syrup.
  • Let the cake cool completely, then turn out of the tin and cut into slices or squares.


You could experiment with the flavours in this recipe by substituting the lemon zest and juice with equal quantities of another citrus fruit, such as orange or grapefruit.
LEON Happy Baking by Claire Ptak and Henry Dimbleby is published by Hachette Australia, $29.99. Photography by Steven Joyce.
LEON Happy Baking by Claire Ptak and Henry Dimbleby is published by Hachette Australia, $29.99. Photography by Steven Joyce.
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