One of my favourite cakes to eat is a lemon drizzle cake, especially the one my mother-in-law bakes, but it’s made with eggs and white refined sugar and flour and plenty of butter! I have wanted to make a healthier alternative for a while and this cake definitely rises to the challenge! I am happy to say that this cake is;

  • gluten-free
  • dairy-free
  • egg-free
  • vegan
  • uses whole food, plant-based ingredients
  • free of refined white sugar but still tastes sweet from a mix of coconut sugar and a little pure Maple syrup
  • contains only 30mls of olive oil in the whole cake but is deliciously moist due to the use of ground almonds


I tried making the cake a few different ways because the first time I tried it, the cake mixture tasted sublime but no matter how long I baked it for, the middle was still soggy! So I played around with the amount of liquid I was using – lemon juice, almond milk, Maple syrup and oil until it baked all the way through within a reasonable time, without burning on the top.

By adjusting the liquid and increasing the cooking time, I was able to produce a really moist cake, with a crunchy topping but it’s important to follow the ingredients and measure accurately to reach the right moisture density. The cake mixture might look dry when adding it to the cake tin but I can assure you, it will definitely be moist when you take it out of the oven!

The original recipe I saw in one of my cookbooks was not vegan as it used eggs so I thought how I could get the binding and rising elements from the eggs from other ingredients.  I tried a few different combinations and settled on two different ones because they each gave good but alternative bakes;

  • butter beans & gram (chickpea) flour
    • This combination gives a smaller rise – almost 1″ lower than option 2, but I prefer the taste as it was nuttier and more robust
  • butter beans & cornflour
    • This combination gave a good rise but not as tasty as from using gram flour

Both options create great tasting cakes so don’t be put off from using one over the other.  I guess it comes down to what you have available and most people will have cornflour in their cupboards over gram flour, but go ahead and use what you have or make both and compare the taste to see which you prefer.

By adding the zest of a full lemon, with the juice of half, plus lots of juicy blueberries, this cake is so fresh and lite but really bursting with citrus zest and delicious, juicy blueberries – it’s a lovely cake to make during the Summer season.

Top with a generous helping of fresh blueberries and that’s all you need, unless you fancy a little extra drizzle of Maple syrup too 😉

Blueberry, Lemon, Almond & Polenta Butter Bean Cake

The Balanced Kitchen
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine English
Servings 8 servings


  • 15cm spring form, loose bottomed cake tin, lined with baking paper
  • food processor



  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 100 g polenta
  • 2 TBSP gram (chickpea) flour OR use 1 TBSP of cornflour see notes below
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 100 g coconut sugar


  • 100 g butter beans - pre-cooked rinsed, drained (roughly 1/2 tin)
  • 1 medium lemon - zest
  • 1/2 medium lemon - juice
  • 1.5 TBSP pure Maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 30 mls olive oil
  • 60 mls almond milk


  • 50 g blueberries plus extra for serving


  • Place all of the wet ingredients into a food processor and process for about 30-45 seconds until the beans have completely broken down.
  • Now add all of the dry ingredients to the wet and pulse several times until combined.
  • Scrape the mixture into the prepared 15cm round baking tin, lined with baking paper. Smooth the mixture out until evenly spread.
  • Scatter the blueberries over the top of the cake and use a clean finger to press each one down into the cake mixture. Ensure they are still visible but quite far down into the mixture, otherwise they might just burn and burst during cooking rather than stay in tact and infuse the cake.
  • Bake the cake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C for 15 mins.
    After 15mins (do not open the oven before 15 mins otherwise it will affect the rise), place a piece of foil over the cake tin and bake for another 15 mins. The foil will stop the top from browning any further while the middle of the cake still cooks.
    After a total of 30mins, remove the foil and bake for a further 5-10mins (that makes a grand total of 35-40mins) until it has cooked through.
    Checking with a skewer is probably not the best indicator of whether it is cooked through or not, check instead by apply a little pressure to the top of the cake and feeling if it feels firm or wobbly underneath. If firm, it will be ready, if a little wobbly, cook for another 5 mins and check again.
  • Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 15 mins in the cake tin. After 15 mins, use a knife to gently go around the edges to ensure it is not sticking to the tin, un-do the spring clip and slide the cake out. Leave the cake to cool for another 30 mins before serving.
  • Serve with extra fresh blueberries!


2TBSP - Gram (chickpea) flour:
Gives a smaller rise - almost 1" lower than using cornflour, but I prefer the taste as it was nuttier and more robust
1 TBSP - Cornflour:
Gives a good rise but not as tasty as from using gram flour
Both options will make good cakes.
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