A few years back I shared a recipe from Aine Carlin’s first cookbook, Keep It Vegan and remarked that had our cookbooks gone to highschool together, they wouldn’t have run in the same crowd, but they’d probably meet and become friends later in life. Carlin’s second book The New Vegan: Great Recipes, No-Nonsense Advice, and Simple Tips is every bit as preppy-perfect as her first, but once again, I found myself sucked into the luscious photos and descriptions of her dishes – allowing me to temporarily abandon my preference for the unpolished.

This book is intended to support new vegans’ quest for easy, flavorful dishes but even a seasoned vegan will find new ideas and inspiration. Such was the case for me with this recipe. I’ve been eating polenta my entire life, but never for dessert. (Once for breakfast, at my grandmas, we collectively decided as a family to never do that again.)

You’ll want to make the cashew frosting for this cake first, and stash it in the fridge while you work on the rest. Be sure to let the cake cool completely before frosting it.

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Vegan GF Orange Polenta Cake

You’ll want to make the cashew frosting for this cake first, and stash it in the fridge while you work on the rest. Be sure to let the cake cool completely before frosting it.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: gluten free, vegan
Keyword: gluten-free, orange, pistachio, polenta cake, vegan
Servings: 8 people


  • 1 high speed blender or food processor
  • 1 6" cake pan


Cashew Frosting

  • 1 cup cashews soaked in water for 6 hours
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • juice & zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1 heaping tsp coconut oil
  • 2-3 Tbs water


  • 1 cup polenta or cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • zest and juice of 2 blood oranges
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 1/2 cup soy yogurt
  • 2-3 Tbs crushed pistachios to decorate


Make the Frosting First

  • Drain and rinse the cashews and blend in a food processor or high-speed blender with the agave, orange juice and zest, orange extract, coconut oil, and 2 tablespoons of the water. 
  • Refrigerate until needed.

Make the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F and grease and line a 6-inch cake pan.
  • Scrape down the sides frequently until it becomes completely smooth, adding a little more water if necessary. The frosting will go through several stages; nutty,coarse, and eventually silky smooth. You really do have to persevere to achieve the perfect frosting consistency, but don’t take a shortcut by adding too much liquid.
  • Mix the polenta, ground almonds, chickpea flour, and baking soda together in a large bowl. Stir through the blood orange zest to ensure it is evenly distributed.
  • In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk together the oil, blood orange juice, agave, orange extract, and yogurt.
  • Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the orange and olive oil mixture. Fold gently and transfer to the prepared cake pan.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Check whether the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer to see if it comes out clean.
  • Once baked, let cool briefly on a wire rack before removing it from the pan. Set aside until completely cool.
  • Slather with the chilled cashew frosting, smoothing it around the sides with a spatula. Finally, decorate with crushed pistachios.


The cake is best eaten fresh, but will keep for up to 3 days.

Please note: Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click & make a purchase I might earn a small amount of money. I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher, but the opinions expressed here are my own. Recipe and photos reprinted with permission.