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!

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.

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

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 lightly scooped (144 g) finely ground blanched 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

Special equipment:

  • 8 or 9-inch springform pan

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 8 or 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, baking powder, cardamom, 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 well combined. The mixture should resemble a thick paste.

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.

whip egg whites until they start to foam

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: Stir a third to a half of the beaten egg whites into the almond mixture to loosen it and make it lighter.

Then gently fold the remaining whipped egg whites into the batter, a large scoopful at a time.

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 30 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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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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Flourless Lemon Almond Cake

204 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Carla

    This is my go-to gluten free cake. It does well with variations. ..orange zest is yummy as is grated ginger. I have even substituted ground mesquite pods for some of the almond flour with delicious results!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Jess

    Made this tonight, didn’t read it properly and used almond meal not almond flour the mix with the yolks was hard (now realise why) but I just took time with some of the egg whites to loosen it then baked as normal, it’s delicous and love how little sugar it has in it compared to others. Thank you for the recipe

  • Coral

    This sounds delicious. Could I add raspberries through the mixture, make 2 & turn into a layer cake with frosting for a birthday cake?

  • Carol K

    I made this using erythritol (130g rather than 100g sugar). I also added the juice of half a lemon to the yolks and whisked that mix with an electric mixer for at least 10 minutes. I have a fan oven so set it at 155°C and baked for about 35-40 minutes in a well greased 20cm springform tin. The cake turned out beautifully. A bit of a dip in the centre but a light, firm crumb. The dip was nothing that whipped cream and raspberries couldn’t sort out. A keeper for sure!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • CG

    Can you make this in a regular cake pan? If so, would you suggest using butter or oil so it doesn’t stick? On a tight budget and I do not have a springform pan :( I can already say that this looks delicious and being gluten-free I cannot wait to try it! Thx!

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