Almond Cake Has No Flour in It, Here's Why It Works

If you're following a gluten-free diet, you should know about almond cake. It's naturally gluten-free because it uses ground up almonds as the base of the cake! Yes, you read that right: a cake without any all-purpose flour, cake flour, or gluten-free flour replacements. How is that possible, and what makes it work?

We love this light, airy, sweet cake so much that we had to know the answers. So, we dug into the science behind almond cake to find out everything there is to know. We would be remiss to give you all this information without giving you a way to make it, so we also found our three favorite recipes. These foolproof recipes will have you baking your way to your new go-to cake!

What is almond cake?

Almond cake is proof that you don't need a lot of fancy equipment or ingredients to make a moist and delicious cake. It's essentially a form of pound cake that can be baked in a regular cake pan, except the "flour" is ground almonds. The traditional recipes use almond paste, but that ingredient can be hard to find. Most modern recipes allow you to make your own paste by pureeing almonds in the food processor.

But it's not the flour that makes the cake rise, so what's the secret? Really, it's all about the eggs. To make a successful almond cake, you need to separate out the egg yolks from the egg whites. They're really best if you let your large eggs come to room temperature, first. Then, you'll cream the egg yolks with the sugar (to make the mixture nice and smooth) and you'll beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. You'll gently fold that into the cake batter to keep anything from deflating. These stiff egg whites will create a merengue-like texture that expands in the oven as it bakes. Thus, the rise!

Some people add baking powder and an acidic ingredient - like cream of tartar, buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream - to their almond cake batter. This will guarantee a rise in the almond cake, no matter how old the eggs are. No matter which method you use, you'll bake it in a regular-old cake pan (or, a loaf pan if you prefer) and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. It gets better with age, so try to make it a day ahead of time and serve-up day-old almond cake.

As you'll see from the following recipes, this cake is also infinitely variable. You can flavor it with citrus zest or add in extra almond flavor by using almond extract. You can top it with powdered sugar alone or you can add sliced almonds to the top as a garnish. Ice it with your favorite buttercream frosting or serve it more simply with a side of fresh fruit or jam.

Really, the choice is up to you! That's what's so great about almond cake, is it will taste great every way you serve it. Have a little fun at your next dinner party with one of these recipes.

1. Traditional Spanish Almond Cake

In Galicia, this traditional Spanish version is marked with the shape of a cross, which is a mark of the Order of Santiago. It is a simple and homey version of almond cake, although you can add some flavor variations like cinnamon, lemon zest, vanilla extract, or apricot jam.

Get the recipe here.

2. Orange-Scented Almond Cake

This orange-scented almond cake is a departure from the traditional cake, using an entire orange in the batter! But, it's no harder to make than the regular cake and still requires little equipment to execute - just a food processor and a way to mix the batter (either with a stand mixer, hand beaters, or some good old fashioned elbow grease with a wooden spoon).

Get the recipe here.

3. Almond Cake

Get little fancier with this version that fills the inside of your soft-and-fluffy almond cake with an amaretto filling. How perfect is that - almond liqueur inside an almond flavored cake!

Unlike the other recipes, this one adds a few ingredients - heavy whipping cream, almond extract, vanilla extract, and baking powder. But, even though the ingredients list is longer, it's still super simple to cook in a regular cake pan.

Get the recipe here.

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