Flourless Lemon Almond Cake

DessertBakingGluten-FreeTorte

A gluten-free, light and airy lemon cake make with almond flour, eggs, and sugar. Perfect for a holiday dessert!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Holiday meals can be so heavy, it’s refreshing to have a dessert that is relatively light, like this flourless lemon almond cake. This is a classic cake recipe, if I’m not mistaken, from southern Spain.

The basic ingredients are simply almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds), eggs, sugar, and lemon zest. No butter or wheat flour. The cake behaves a bit like a soufflé in that it gets most of its rise from the eggs in the batter, and then gently falls as it settles.

I’ve included a bit of baking powder to help the cake maintain a bit more structure as it cools. The result is a light and tender crumb, softly sweet and lemony. You could easily twirl some raspberry sauce around it, or add a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Flourless Lemon Almond Cake Recipe

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  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8

It helps to separate the eggs first, while they are cold, and then let them sit to come to room temperature as you prep the other ingredients.  Eggs are easier to separate when cold, and they perform better as leavening agents when at room temperature. When whipping egg whites, make sure your equipment is perfectly clean. Any fat (or even bits of egg yolk in the whites) can keep the egg whites from properly whipping up.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs (large), separated into 4 egg yolks and 4 egg whites, room temperature (see how to separate eggs)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest, packed
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) white sugar, divided 1/4 cup (50 g) and 1/4 cup (50 g)
  • 1 1/2 cup (144 g) finely ground almond flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (make sure your baking powder is fresh!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling

* If almond flour is not available at your market, you can grind up blanched, slivered almonds in a food processor until finely ground.  I would start with a little more than 1 1/3 cups, perhaps 1 1/2 cups. Our local Whole Foods carries a Bob's Red Mill brand of finely ground almond flour which is what we used for this recipe. 

Method

1 Preheat oven, prepare pan: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175 °C).  Place a round of parchment paper on the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, and grease it and the sides of the pan with butter or cooking spray.

2 Beat egg yolks, lemon zest, 1/4 cup sugar: In a large bowl, beat together with a wooden spoon the egg yolks, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth.

3 Whisk almond flour, cardamom, baking powder, beat into egg yolk mixture: In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour, ground cardamom, and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and beat until smooth.

4 Whip egg whites to soft peaks: With an electric mixer with a very clean bowl and clean whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, starting on low speed and gradually increasing the speed.

When bubbles start to form, add a pinch of salt and the teaspoon of vinegar (both the salt and the vinegar will help the beaten egg whites maintain better structure, as will the sugar in the next step).

As the egg whites begin to increase in volume, sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, a little at a time, as you continue to beat the eggs whites. Beat until soft peaks form.

5 Fold beaten egg whites into almond mixture: Fold the beaten egg whites into the almond mixture a large scoopful at a time.  You won't get much lift with the first third of the egg whites, but as you add more, you'll be able to gently fold in the whites in such a way as to create a light batter.

6 Scoop batter into pan, bake: Gently scoop the batter into a the prepared springform pan and place in the oven. Bake at 350°F (175 °C) for 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake helping it to separate from the side of the pan. Release the springform pan sides, and gently move the cake (on parchment) to a cake serving plate. Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar before serving.

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Flourless Lemon Almond Cake

199 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Alexis

    Can you make this with coconut sugar? And make into muffins?

  • Jennifer Haworth

    I’ve been inspired to bake lately. I was looking for a recipe with almond flour and found this one. My family loves lemon flavored desserts. My dough was thick, next time I will weigh the almond flour. I actually added the juice of one lemon and that helped it tastes amazing. The cardamom adds a little zing. I actually skipped the powdered sugar dusting and topped with lemon curd, fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Decorated with a candied lemon slice (from trader joe’s). Very festive. Will definitely be making this again and of course be creating different versions .

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Lynn

    No butter or oil involved? Just suprised… Will try it out tomorrow. Thanks

  • Deb

    Amazing. Thank you. And thank you for advising the mixture would loosen as you add more meringue, it gave me faith to continue. Good to have a healthy (ish) cake that isnt raw. Cooked it at 160 in my fan oven. Very moreish.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • louise

    The almond flour/egg yolk mixture was like a brick. There was no way to “gently fold” in the egg whites. I actually checked my almond flour to make sure I didn’t get the wrong flour. It was brown at 20 min of cooking time. Ended up about an inch high. Nothing like the picture. I double, double checked my cooking time and my measurements. I can’t believe some of the reviews said it was fabulous? I’m stumped Any thoughts?

    xxxxxyyyyy

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