This is my third gluten-free recipe in a row. As far as my inspiration goes, when it rains, it pours.You might think that since I kept it for last, it’s subpar in some way. Quite the opposite—Flourless Almond Cake is really something special. It’s one of those recipes you’ll want to have in your repertoire not only because it’s grain-free and relatively quick and simple, but because it can adapt to any occasion. It’s as perfect for a dinner party as it is for a cookout or taking to a friend who needs a pick-me-up. The holidays are still a while away, but I can imagine this cake being a welcome addition to any dessert spread.
But it’s barely August and I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me show you how this cake comes together.It starts by measuring out some blanched almond flour. I measure using the spoon & level method, as I do with all my dry ingredients. It’s just what it sounds like—spoon the almond flour into the measuring cup until it heaps over the top, then level it with the flat edge of a table knife.This may sound tedious if you’ve never done it before, but it only takes a few seconds longer than other common volume-based measuring techniques. While it’s appealing to scoop ingredients with a measuring cup directly, it may cause your final product to be too dense.Put your almond flour in a large mixing bowl and mix in some light brown sugar, salt, and touches of cinnamon and nutmeg. Next come four egg yolks, vanilla and almond extracts, and a little butter. You may certainly just use plain melted butter here, but I like to use brown butter for the extra toasty flavor it imparts.Next up, wash and dry your mixer attachment and whip four egg whites to stiff peaks. Don’t skip the wash/dry step or your egg whites won’t whip, and you’ll be cursing my name while you separate four more eggs. I tried bypassing this step and using the egg whites as-is, and the result was a dense, flat cake. No, thanks.Stir 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the almond mixture before gently folding in the rest.Pour the batter into a prepared pan, scatter sliced almonds over the top, and bake until the center is firm.Turn the cake out onto a serving platter and let it cool completely. Slice it up and serve it any way you see fit.Like Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, this cake toes the line between celebration cake and everyday cake, and it does it with style. The soft, sweet cake and elegant sliced almond top are party-ready on their own or with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar. Or you could add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle caramel over the top. As you can see, I am partial to a little whipped cream and a side of seasonal fruit.No matter which suggestion you go with, this simple little cake is sure to be a winner.
Flourless Almond Cake
makes one 8-inch round cake
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (measured by spoon & level)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup raw sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch round pan. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again. Set aside.
Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 3-6 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately transfer the brown butter into a small bowl. Set aside.
Separate egg yolks from whites. Set whites aside.
Combine almond flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on low speed to mix the ingredients together—this will take all of 15 seconds. Add egg yolks, brown butter, vanilla and almond extracts and mix until combined. It will be very thick, almost like cookie dough.
Wash and dry mixer attachments, along with a medium mixing bowl. I also like to wipe down the equipment with vinegar, just to ensure that everything is completely clean before I add the egg whites. There is no way to salvage this recipe if the egg whites are contaminated with oil, yolk, or even water.
Transfer egg whites to the very clean, dry medium mixing bowl. Use the very clean, dry electric mixer to whip them until stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.
Stir 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the almond mixture. Gently fold half the remaining egg whites into the mixture, followed by the other half.
Transfer batter to prepared pan. Scatter sliced almonds over the top. Bake for 21-23 minutes, or until firm in the center.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before running a thin, flexible knife around the edge of the cake. Invert cake onto a clean plate. Remove parchment. Revert onto a serving plate or cakestand. Let cool completely before slicing. Serve with whipped cream and fresh fruit, if desired.
Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.