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I have a friend who says “I don’t cook vegan, gluten free, lactose free, low fat or low salt”. I think he is joking (possibly…) though I can agree that it is more challenging when you are cooking for a dinner party and you need to work around food intolerances (or lifestyle and health choices). However I have both close friends and family members who eat gluten free, so although I can’t show off my home made pasta when I have them over for dinner, I can certainly make a delicious gluten free dessert. My post with the recipe for a flourless orange cake has proven to be one of my most popular, so there are clearly lots of folk in the blogosphere looking for gluten free or flourless cake alternatives.

whole lime cake2_edited-1

Almond meal is used frequently in Italian cakes however pistachio meal is less common. I love it as it makes the cake look green. At the Collingwood Children’s Farmers Market this weekend, I found some Australian pesticide free pistachios from Wedderburn. I thought they would balance beautifully with limes, which I had managed to pick up cheaply (a dozen for $5) at the local supermaket. Limes are a zesty and delicious addition that balances beautifully with the pistachios. I proudly (or stupidly) combined them in a flourless cake ~ stupidly because Melbourne has been scorching with 9 days in a row over 32 degrees and having the oven on for over an hour was quite hellish. The result was rather good, my husband proclaiming it was his new favorite cake. I also made some cream cheese frosting with limes – seeing as I had so many. This may seem rather excessive – a simple dusting of icing sugar would have done nicely. But I thought if I had to bake a cake in this extreme heat, I might as well make it amazing! Some good friends came over on Sunday night and we had some with some chilled Tasmanian Botrytis Rielsing. Just delicious.

two pistachio and lime cake

Flourless lime and pistachio cake with lime frosting
100 g fine polenta (cornmeal) (or 2/3 US cups)
1 tsp baking powder
250 g ground pistachios (or 2 and 2/5 US cups)
250 g butter, at room temperature (or 2 and 1/4 sticks)
250 g caster sugar (or one US cup plus one tablespoon)
2 large eggs, beaten
Grated rind of 3 limes
Juice of one lime
200 g cream cheese, at room temperature (or just under 1 US cup)
Juice of one lime
Zest of one lime
2/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp cornflour (optional – will help the frosting maintain its shape, but is not gluten free)

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Grease and line a 28 cm cake tin. Place the polenta, ground pistachios and baking powder in a large bowl. Combine and set aside. Cut the butter into chunks and beat with the sugar for about 5 minutes until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat for a few more minutes. Add the lime zest and juice to the bowl of dry ingredients and then fold in the egg/sugar/butter mixture until it is well combined. Place the mixture into the prepared tin, flattening it with a spatula and cook on the bottom shelf of the oven for at least an hour (it might be more, depending on your oven). The cake is cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool before removing the cake tin.

whole lime cake

To prepare the frosting – whizz the cream cheese, icing sugar, lime zest, lime juice and cornflour (if using) with a stick blender until well incorporated. Apply the frosting to the cake (once it has cooled completely) using a spatula and a butter knife to ensure it is evenly spread. This cake will keep in the fridge, covered, for at least five days (but it won’t last that long!)

slice of cake LS


  • Temasek68 says:

    I just wanted to say how much I am enjoying your blog and how useful it has been. We are about to embark on an Italian holiday in may and are very much looking forward to her food and culture.

    • Thanks so much for visiting my blog and enjoying the posts. I love sharing a bit if Italy with foodie blog readers. Enjoy your trip. May is a great season to go there, enjoy.

  • ambradambra says:

    Looks delicious. Will try. Have you tasted finger limes? I’m a recent convert and love their little green (or pink) caviar-like pearls of limey goodness. OMG, I sound like Nigella there. Finger lime season is now here and you can find them at selected growers’ markets.

  • This looks awesome! As far as I know, you can get gluten-free corn flour, too. 🙂

    • Thanks and that is good to hear. I have never looked as when I had to make it it gluten free I just omitted the cornflour. Thanks for dropping by 🙂

  • Glenys says:

    I have a question. I am a bit confused on the term “polenta” My husband is from the Friuli district of Italy. To us “polenta” is the cooked product of either cornmeal or fine semolina cooked with water. Do you mean then fine cornmeal or fine semolina, as you have it listed in the dry ingredients?

    thanks, Glenys in Canada

    • Hi Glenys, yes! Here is Australia we call cornmeal “polenta”. We buy packets of “superfine polenta” that can be used in cakes like this (you would call it “superfine cornmeal”. We don’t use the word “cornmeal”. The cooked product is also polenta. Sorry for the confusion, but that is what it is called here.

  • Hannah says:

    This looks amazing. Orange desserts make me feel sick, whereas lime and pistachio are beloved flavours. Hurrah!

  • Mrs Mulberry says:

    Wow Paola what a gorgeous cake!! I made your orange cake recently for a family party and it was a great success – I can’t wait to try this one next!!

    • You are very sweet Mrs M, thanks for your comment. I am sure you will love this cake just as much as the other – the cream cheese frosting takes it to another level, really festive. Enjoy!

  • Clare says:

    Can’t wait to make this cake. Mark raved about it!

  • Margaret says:

    Che buone le ricette! Grazie

  • Marianne Odell says:

    Sounds wonderful,but could you posibly post a conversion to cups for us here in the U.S?

  • Marianne Odell says:

    Thank you!

  • This looks delicious! I originally came across your blog while looking at red gnocchi recipes as I’ve been trying out a few gluten free gnocchi recipes lately and thought your look super special! But now I think I may be giving this ago first. Lovely posts and a lovely blog.

    • Thanks very much – it look me a whole to get these GF gnocchi right – the texture is great, you just need to roll very carefully. Thanks for your comments and taking the time to write x

  • Oh, and corn flour is gluten free! xx

  • Lin says:

    My husband and I just came back from a lovely Italian Gourmet Coffee Shop, I had Flourless LIme and Pistachio Frosting so yummy– 5 starts, great with my Coffee Latte. We have a Lime tree at the back and covered with fruits – time to bake!! Thanks for this post!! I’ll let you know how my cake came up – soon as I can’t wait to make it!!

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