Flourless Lemon Almond Cake

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.

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


  • 4 eggs, 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. 


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.

Click on the comments you'd like to print with your recipe. Grayed out comments will not print.


  • Bal

    Made this as my son is gluten intolerant but has a sweet tooth – it’s amazing
    Although it only needed 20mins in my fan oven top is brown any longer & it would be burnt!
    I added almond extract in place of the card omen plus 60ml of almond milk to loosen batter but I will probably add lemon juice next time
    Great light gluten free cake x


  • Lee

    Can this be frozen?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Lee, I haven’t tried freezing it but I don’t see why it couldn’t be frozen. If you try freezing it, please let us know how it turns out for you!

  • Kay

    Although my cake was only about 1-1/2″ high, it was delicious. May not have risen much because I neglected to bring eggs to room temp. I did make it even more lemony by adding a glaze — juice of a lemon with 1/4 cup sugar brought to a boil and brushed on after puncturing cake with cake tester. I used Trader Joe’s almond meal rather than the finer type sold at other stores, but it gave it a more interesting somewhat coarse texture than that of run-of-the-mill softer American-style cakes. Between just the two of us, it’s lasting no more than 24 hours!


  • Liz S

    Delicious! I save this for special occasions because it’s a little more involved than my usual baking ideas, but it’s worth the time. I brought it to a family holiday dinner and there wasn’t a speck left.


  • Karen

    Made using Xylitol rather than sugar to make it Banting / diabetic friendly and adjusted the quantity of that accordingly. Came out beautifully light and moist. I drizzled with a little extra lemon juice after as I prefer quite a strong citrus flavour.
    I have tried a many recipes using almond flour for cakes and this one is by far the best.


  • Rachel

    This came out to perfection. I used a scale and the amounts were great. I used a bit less vinegar, and I adjusted to a bit less time with the baking once the cake browned to retain its moisture.

    Thanks for a great recipe :)

  • Autumn

    Hello, I was wondering if you know the calorie count is for a serving?

  • Carolyn

    I had the same big issue with dryness. I ended up having to add 1 cup of 1% milk before folding in the beaten egg whites. I’ll try weighing my almond flour if I ever try this again.

  • Terri Flynn

    Can I check the quantity of of the almond flour please?
    The recipe states 1 1/2 cups (144g) of the flour; 144g doesn’t seem enough to measure 1 1/2 cups.

    For example, above that is the measurement 1/2 cup of sugar (100g).
    Wouldn’t 1 1/2 cups be more like 300g??

  • Adi

    Hi, looks amazing. Going to try this today. One question though, planning to make my own almond flour. Do I use roasted or unroasted almonds please?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Adi, I’m pretty sure that almond flour is made with unroasted almonds, so I would use those. I would also make sure to use blanched almonds, or almonds without any skin. The skin can be bitter.

  • Linda campbell

    This cake is amazing. I made it for my grandson, omitted the cardamom and used some almond extract so delicious will definitely make it again.

  • Steve

    The Almond gluten free flour in Australia is very expensive at $10 for 275 grams. Could plain gluten free flour be a substitute? Also being a newbie I used raw sugar without realising a finer dissolving alternative is better suited. The cake turnedout being almost a thick biscuit instead of the fluffy appearance of your cake recipe, do you have a list of hints for me to use?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Steve, I haven’t tried making this recipe with anything but almond flour, but if you do, please let us know how it turns out for you. You shouldn’t use raw sugar for this recipe because the granules are too large to easily dissolve (as you figured out). Just plain white granulated sugar will work, superfine sugar will work even better. As for other tips, make sure all utensils and the bowl you are using to beat the egg whites are spotlessly clean. Even a small amount of fat or egg yolk in the egg whites will keep them from beating up properly.

      • Mary Zulli

        A hint for those who only have raw or turbinado sugar, which I prefer for most things and seldom bake. I weigh to measure the sugar first (1cup granulated = 7.1oz or 200g), then grind each portion in the food processor. Cover the food chute as it gets dusty.

  • Alfred

    I made this recipe twice and this is the second time that my cake has not rise. It more or less one inch. Please help me i followed the recipe

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Alfred, this is a shallow cake, but it should rise some. The leavening comes from eggs and baking powder. Make sure your baking powder is still fresh (put a teaspoon in a small bowl, sprinkle with a little water, the baking powder should foam up, if not, it’s no longer any good.) Use fresh eggs for the best rise.

  • Christine Barry

    Made this (half the recipe) and turned out great! Thanks -a definite addition to my grain free repertoire. Love the lightness, as a lot are heavy and uncake like.


  • Sara

    I just made this cake and modified the recipe a bit as the batter was too thick to allow folding the egg whites in successfully. For a smoother batter, I added 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1tsp almond extract, and the juice of 1 lemon. The batter was still thick but easier to work with. I did notice some clumps after folding the egg whites in, but the cake turned out fluffy and delicious! This one is a keeper!

    • Carmel

      I wish I would have done that. The batter is SO thick that it did not easily fold in with the egg whites. It’s in the oven now but I suspect it will end up in the garbage bin.

  • Sharon

    Just made and cooled the cake -wondering what size eggs you use? I used “large” eggs, they weighed 2 1/8 oz in the shell but I thought the dough was so dry , I added another egg weighing 2 oz. Other than that, I followed the recipe. The texture was not as grainy as the picture looked-it was more angel food cake like and a bit tough. I am a mile high. Any guesses as to the texture issue?

  • Kat

    I made this with 1/2 cup pureed dates instead of sugar and I added 2 tbsp lemon juice for more lemon flavor. I didn’t have the issue with a hard ball of dough forming using the dates. If I make this again I might add a few tbsp of butter for some more moisture.

  • Mark

    Made it for the first time and it came out really well. I added some grated lime for a bit of extra zest. I’m going to add this recipe to my repertoire…..

  • Kat

    Is there not supposed to be any butter in this? I’m planing to try this (looks delicious) and just noticed. Is it a typo? Thanks!

  • JLMom

    I have made this cake several times, and it always come out great! The only substitution I make is that I use 1 t lemon juice instead of the vinegar. Yes, the egg yolk mixture is. Bit thick at first. But if you add the whipped egg yolks in as directed ( instead of all at once) it works out fine. Make sure to FOLD them in. Don’t just mix in with a spoon or mash them in.

  • YPran

    I also ended up with a hard dough and it was basically impossible to fold the whipped egg whites into the dough. I literally had to use the mixer to blend it all. Fingers crossed it will turn up into something like a cake! …nearly 40 minutes later and we have a thin cake. I am sure it will be eatable ! ;-)

    • David T

      Agreed. The almond flour and egg yolk mixture was too thick to fold in the egg whites. To get a consistent mixture, I ended up deflating a lot of the air in the whites (I had great peaks beforehand!). I think the flour mixture needs more moisture—another commenter added the juice of one lemon. I might try that next time if I make this again.

  • Brandy

    Hey, so, in the paleo diet I’m on I cannot do added sugars but I am allowed honey. Sometimes I allow myself the occasional organic cane sugar. Would this recipe do well with cane sugar instead of white sugar?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Brandy, the sugar in this recipe is important for both the structure of the cake and its moisture. The sugar I use is C&H which is cane sugar. Perhaps you are talking about raw sugar? Whatever sugar you use needs to be able to dissolve completely. Most raw sugar I know of is too large of a grain to work well in a recipe like this. As for honey, I have no idea. Haven’t tried it with honey. If you attempt this cake with either honey or raw sugar, please let us know how it turns out for you!

  • Pavi

    Baked this cake for my husband’s 41st birthday yesterday..he eats gluten free, so was looking for a good gluten free cake recipe…Absolutely delicious! Even the kids loved it! Followed the recipe to a T, and it came out perfectly! Thank you so much!!!..(Yes, after step 3 it is a huge lump but when folded with the whisked fluffy egg whites, it just becomes so light and airy..You just know it’s going to come out well!) …Tastes even better the next day, just had a slice straight out of the refrigerator and relished every heavenly bite!

  • Louise

    Completely agree with some of the comments above. I’ve used the amount of flour stated and can see that might be part of the problem but I’m faced with a ball of rock hard stuff in my bowl and haven’t even added all the flour yet. I’m just wondering what on earth to do about it…

    • Orchid64

      If you really can’t work with the dough (and, yes, it is difficult, but doable), try adding in a tablespoon of lemon juice. It takes some time to lighten the stiff dough with the white at first, but you just have to fold patiently.

  • Susan Jancourtz

    I’m head cook at a weekly community supper, and I’d love to make this cake for dessert. Can I make multiples of the recipes in a bigger pan (like 18 X 26″)? Will it come out? Or do I need to bake it in the round pan and just bake a whole bunch of them?

  • Kathy

    The batter was a bit hard to fold the egg whites into. It was still a bit lumpy when I put into the pan for baking. The cake didn’t rise. My cake wasn’t pretty. But it was tasty.

  • Fiona Boyd

    My friend who is gluten intolerant loved this cake, so did everyone else, thank you! So nice to find a recipe that is easy and so loved by everyone and with only half a cup of sugar.

  • Anne-Margaret Cann

    please advise how long to cook this cake in a fan forced oven

    • Elise Bauer

      Hello Anne-Margaret, you mean a convection oven? Typically to adapt a recipe to a convection oven, you reduce the oven temperature by 25°F. So, I would bake this cake at 325°F instead of 350°F. That may be all the change you need. Or, the cake may be done in 30 minutes, not 35.

  • Trish

    Made this, this morning. Never made a flourless cake before and never baked in my current oven and it turned out great. Followed the instructions completely as is. Made one mistake and put all the sugar in the yolk mixture so added more to the egg white and didn’t turn out too sweet. I had the same issue as ‘Larisha’ at step 3 and I just made sure it was well mixed.
    It is light and fresh and delicious.

  • Larisha

    150% absolutely love this recipe. Followed it to the letter and served it with some blueberry simple syrup I made. So light and fluffy. Made it for the first time to bring to some people’s house for after dinner, I wasn’t even sure how it would turn out. It was flawless. Will most definitely make this again.

    The only gripe I do have about the actual process is when you’re beating until smooth in step 3… I couldn’t get mine to be smooth, I just made sure it got mixed well and mashed it around until it looked smooth…

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Larisha, if you are using prepared almond flour, the mixture should get smooth. If you are grinding your own almond flour, then it probably won’t ever get completely smooth. Also, there is lemon zest in the mixture at that point which will provide some bits of texture. I’m so glad you like the recipe!

  • Yvonne

    I made this cake, following your recipe exactly. The flavor was divine, but it was way too dry and hard to swallow. Could some butter be added without ruining the cake? If so, how much? If not, what would you suggest in order to make it more moist?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Yvonne, the thing that influences moisture in baked goods more than anything (other than cooking time) is the amount of sugar. If you want it more moist, add more sugar.

    • lisa

      I cooked mine for only 20 min and it was perfect!!!!

  • Shelly

    I have just popped this cake into the oven. All going according to plan so far. I used the zest & juice of 1 lemon and only 1/2 tsp of vinegar . I usually bake with oz or g but I used the cup measures to be on the safe side. Now it is a matter of wait and see…

  • Sadia

    One more question, should I use 4 egg yolks or 5 egg yolks? (based on other comments)

    • Elise Bauer

      My recipe calls for 4 egg yolks. If others use 5, then that works for them. Take your pick.

  • Sadia

    Is it fine if I use raw sugar, it’s a little more crystal than granulated sugar.

    • Elise Bauer

      I don’t recommend it Sadia. You need the sugar to dissolve into the egg whites. If anything it would be more helpful to use superfine sugar.

      • Reen

        I would process the raw sugar in a food processor before using so it’s a finer consistency. I would also taste & adjust if more sugar is required

  • Denise Montague

    Can this cake be made with something other than citrus? I’d like to make this cake, but my fiance has a citrus allergy.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Denise, another commenter recently posted that she makes this cake without the citrus just as a good basic gluten-free cake.

  • Kim

    This my favorite GO TO, simple gluten free cake recipe! I leave out the lemon, and just mix everything together in one bowl and beat briefly with a large fork. In the oven it goes and 35 mins later it’s done! I have received soo many compliments on this cake! And it is the QUICKEST, simplest REALLY good cake recipe I know! Topped with fresh berries tossed in thinned apricot jam and toasted almond slices and it is beautiful too!

  • Rabia

    This was such a treat! Lovely light, moist and lemony. I’m going to make this often.
    I did change a few things after reading the comments here. Used 5 eggs since they were small. Added about a tablespoon of lemon juice for that extra kick (will increase it next time)
    Have to mention that the recipe is explained very nicely. I’m going to be very frequent here from now on.
    Thanks Elise!


  • [email protected]

    This turned out beautifully. Just as I expected. Moist and with a lovely lemon flavour. It was a hit with my friends!

  • Christa Schonfeld

    A wonderful recipe! Thank you so much. I was reading the comments before I started baking To avoid the dryness, I added 125 ml double cream and some lemon juice. It came out just excellent. Moist and delicious. From now on on my favourite recipe.

  • Diane

    I made this today with Bob’s Redmill Almond meal/flour and a Meyer lemon. I made a few changes. I beat the egg yolks with a spoon until they were quite light. Then I added the sugar and lemon zest, and beat some more. I added the juice of a lemon to the egg yolks along with 1/2 teasp of almond extract. I omitted the baking powder–the batter was acid enough from the lemon juice and the beaten egg whites would leaven the batter. I had no problem beating the egg whites until quite stiff. I usually do this is in a copper bowl I have for that sole purpose.

    I baked for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. About 10 minutes later I removed the cake from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, I sifted powdered sugar over it. It is moist, light, lemony, and not at all dry. I will definitely make it again.

  • Sandra

    I baked this cake today and unfortunately it was way too dry. I even added a juice of 1 lemon (because I love tart cakes) and used 1/4 cup of maple syrup instead of sugar. Left other 1/4 cup of sugar out. These were the only changes, basically added more liquid. Still, my cake was hard to swallow, really dry. I wonder why.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Sandra, sugar greatly contributes to the moisture level in baked goods, so if you cut the sugar in half, that would make the cake less moist.

  • Farah

    I made this yesterday & it came out perfect! I was surprised at how fluffy it was. I made it exactly as written. Thank you!

  • Reir

    I made this yesterday and it was a huge hit. I served it with home made whipped cream flavored with lemon zest and limoncello. Will definitely make this again.

  • Victoria

    I made this for Thanksgiving, though I goofed and got hazelnut flour instead of almond, it worked fine. The yolk/nut mixture was stiff. Wish I’d had the courage to soften it with lemon juice, but didn’t want to go to far off track the first time making it.

    It was delicious, though the lemon flavor was very subtle. We used the zest of 5 Meyer lemons from our tree — hard to imagine why it was not more lemony. Perhaps the hazelnut flour overwhelmed the lemon flavor.

  • Rick

    there is no way that this can work with the ingredients in the quantities specified. I tried on Sunday and a total failure. Tonight I bought another packet of almond flour and tried again with my wife wayching everything I was doing. Once you add 170g of almond flour to 4 egg yolks you anr never going to budge the resultant ball. it is so stiff I could barely knead it. the eggs I used are ‘very large’ grade so I don’t think that this recipe is correct. Trying to stir/fold/mix anything was impossible. The ball of dough just rolled round and round the bowl when I tried to incorporate the beaten egg whites. Something has to be missing from the ingredients or the method.

    • Elise

      Hi Rick, I think I may have converted the cups into grams incorrectly, I’m so sorry! I usually weigh everything on my kitchen scale, but maybe something was off. We bake with cups here, don’t usually weigh (I know, it’s ridiculous). So, I just checked another site and they say that 1 1/2 cups of almond flour is 144 grams, not 170. So I’ve made the adjustment. Many people have made the recipe following the cup measurement without a problem, so I’m guessing that the issue is in the gram measurement. Thank you so much from bringing this to my attention and I’m sorry for the recipe that didn’t work!

      • Cristina

        I agree with Rick. It was almost impossible to mix/stir the egg yolks with the almond flour , let alone to fold in the egg whites . It gets so lumpy …. And I have used the cup measurement…. However the cake turn out to be a success among my family members. My little one never had a cake or a muffin before because she does not like them, but she loved this one .

        • Elise Bauer

          Hi Cristina, it does get easier with practice. One needs a gentle touch. So glad the family liked it!

    • Paula

      I had the same result as Rick and I used cups instead of weight. I was surprised that no one else mentioned the ball of dough, I read through some of the comments before preparing. I managed to mix in the egg whites but the mixture is lumpy. Its baking as I write this, hope it turns out well, smells good! Would love to know of any corrections you might have made Elise.

  • Cindy

    I needed a low carb recipe. I also had a much drier base than expected but I attributed that to the fact I changed the recipe a bit. I didn’t have any lemons so I used 2 TBS of sugar free lemon pudding. I assume that is why the flour base was too dry. I also used splenda instead of sugar. When I took it out of the oven, I melted butter over the top to keep the top crust from becoming to dry. It didn’t raise much at all, but tastes very well. I will make it again, maybe increase the eggs and cook it less time.

  • betty

    Great cake. Everyone loved it. Some knows how many calories it has?

  • Loïc

    Hi there! I’ve just made your recipe and it was a great success! Thank you so much for sharing. The cake is light and fluffy and so lemony. I’ve just added some lemon essence and I subbed the vinegar for some lemon juice. I really appreciate the fact that despite the lack of gluten, the cake holds itself together nicely. And it’s not too sweet. Exactly what I was looking for! Merci beaucoup!

  • anonymous

    i tried this recipe but it comes out do not look like what you’ve did. Didnt know what went wrong though.

    • Baker

      Can u add raspberrys aswell? Also don’t worry pictures of cake and the real cake r always different

  • Elisabeth

    Great recipe, thank you! I made it for a friend’s birthday who is allergic to gluten and she loved it. I added lemon icing on top with the juice of 1 lemon + 80 g caster sugar – delicious. And now I finally know how to whisk egg whites properly. Your blog is fantastic! My Mum, who is absolutely lovely, has no interest in cooking whatsoever and never showed me how to, so discovering your ‘How to’ section is like a treasure chest! I’m finding all the little ‘tricks’ that I never find in cookery books. Thanks a lot and Bonjour from Paris!

  • Robin

    I also added slivered almonds to the top of the cake before baking to give it added texture.

  • Robin

    I continued to add egg yolk one at a time, mixing in between until the batter became smooth. This did the trick! The next time I will increase the cardamon, lemon and sugar just a touch to intensify the flavor.

  • Robin

    This batter does not work. The almond mixture does not become smooth with just 4 egg yolks.

  • Anu

    I substituted fructose for sugar and used 4 tablespoons of fat free yoghurt instread of the egg yolks ( i’m on a low cholestrol diet). I used a simple drizzelled icing- ( icing sugar, milk and lemon zest). Came out beautifully.

  • Sybil

    I was looking for a recipe close to the French Galette des Rois (Kings cake) which is prepared in January all over France. I used your recipe as the base and made a few changes. I added 80 gr butter at room temperature which I mixed with the sugar before adding the egg yolks. I reduced the sugar to 1/3 cup total, skipped the lemon and cardamom, and added 1/2 tsp almond extract instead.
    The cake cooked in 35 min, and was truly excellent. I might up the butter next time to 100 gr, keep the 4 eggs, but only beat 2 of the egg whites.
    If you never add the Kings cake, I recommend it. David Lebovitz has a recipe that I endorse. I’m French, living in the U.S. and I love baking.

  • Lisa Rose Miller

    Oops forgot also made them in mini muffin pan for bite size treat (halved the recipe too). Still fun in toaster oven. Next time it’s full size and double for a layer cake – may have to try raspberry middle!

  • Lisa Rose Miller

    Loved it – of course like many others I substituted. I switched out for orange peel (Penzey’s dried) and added star anise instead of cardamom. How does one spell schlurp (aka yummmmmay)!

  • Ellensue

    I love that this recipe has no added fat and only half cup of sugar. Breakfast anyone? FYI, Almond flour is available at Trader Joe’s, at about the same price as almonds last time I checked.

  • Carol

    Hi Elise, this was a wonderful cake! Thanks so much for posting it. I had to improvise a bit based on the ingredients I had (only 3 eggs, half a lemon, and had to grind my own almond meal) but it was still awesome. I used half orange zest, and added 1/4 cup of olive oil to balance out the dry ingredients. And the coarser grain of the home-ground almond flour added a really nice texture. It didn’t rise much but the interior of the cake was light, the edges were pleasantly crispy, and the flavor was brilliant! Adding cardamom to this is genius! I will definitely make again.

  • Robin

    My mixture of almond flour and eggs was rock hard as well. :(

    • Lorette

      Hi Robin have just mad ethos cake and i had the same problem. Not sure how it will turn out as its still in the oven but there is absolutely no way anyone can fold eggs into the play dough like mixture that results from adding the almond meal to the eggs. Isee earlier someone suggested adding another egg might try again with this. Shame I was looking forward to making a beautiful light cake :-(

      • Elise

        The first large scoop of beaten egg whites you stir into the playdough like dough is what loosens up that dough, making it possible to fold the rest in. It does take a light touch and some practice.

        • Lorette

          Thanks for the comment Elise. I’ll have another attempt now I know what to expect . It may have been due to using almond meal rather than flour. However my cake was absolutely delicious even though not terribly well risen. Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe it’s definitely worth the effort :-)

        • Kellie

          Im so glad i read this part lol. I thought I did something wrong like add too much flour or something. I ended up putting some water and lemon juice to make it more like a batter (oops!). Still turned out good though! Next time I will do it the right way. :)

  • Beatrice Lee

    In the second and third steps, about how long should 1) the egg yolk/zest/sugar mixture be beaten, and 2) after adding the flour mixture? There’s no warning to not over-beat after adding the flour like most cake recipes.

  • Beatrice Lee

    Hi Elise, Is it necessary to beat the yolks, sugar, & lemon zest with a wooden spoon instead of a mixer? Is it because you want to reserve the mixer for the egg whites?

    • Elise

      Hi Beatrice, yes, exactly. Also the mixer must be spotlessly clean, if there is any residual fat from using it to mix egg yolks (which are fatty) the egg whites may not whip up properly.

      • Chungwan

        Or you could beat the egg white first, transfer to another bowl, and then move to the yolks.

  • Qing

    I tried this and loved the flavor and texture. One problem I had was that when I added almond flour to the yolk/sugar the mixture was so thick it was almost like dough, just like the last reviewer said. I added juice of half lemon to it but it didn’t help much. I ended up beating the egg white as instructed and mixed it into the dough-like batter little by little. After using about 2/3 to 3/4 of the egg white the batter was finally thin enough to allow me to really FOLD in the rest of the egg white. The cake still came out delicious! I am not sure what’s going on with the almond flour I have. It’s labelled ‘fine grind’ and I got it from Costco. Where do you get your flour, Elise?

  • Jettekins

    Saw this posted on a low carb website and had to try it immediately.
    Also used Stevia like some others suggested and I think it turned out fantastic. Next time I’ll however use almond or vanilla extract as I found the lemon does not really go well with almond in my tastebuds.
    I’m leaving a piece sliced lengthways overnight and will toast this tomorrow to see if I can use it as a sandwich alternative.
    Yes, it is rather dry but afrter adding a scoop of whipped cream and strawberries it had the perfect balance. This will become a staple in my kitchen

  • NJBrit

    Yes, a recipe to add to the repertoire. I added an extra egg as the base was really too dry maybe because of the almond flour I used. I was surprised with the subtle overtone provided by the cardamom but I also added almond extract to the egg mixture and cinnamon to the dry mixture.

  • Nina

    I’ve made this cake three times and I always get rave reviews. The first time I was serving 10 guests so I increased the ingredients by half. While in the oven it looked gorgeous, right after I took it out it still look perfect, 10 minutes later I noticed it had deflated leaving a “depression” in the center. I thought that maybe increasing the ingredients caused it. The next two times, I followed the recipe exactly and both times got that collapsed middle. All times the cakes were cooked perfectly and were delicious. How can I avoid the sagging center in the future? Thanks.


    • Elise

      Hi Nina, since the cake relies on eggs for leavening, what you are seeing is typical. Like a soufflé, it can fall. Experienced bakers have their tricks for keeping this from happening too much, you may want to Google for some ideas. I would try lowering the temp to maybe 275 and letting it cook longer. Also be very gentle when you open and close the oven door, and when you remove the cake from the oven.

  • Rita

    Made this twice and its amazing, my family is “carb free” and I used 1/4 cup of stevia instead of the 1/2 cup of sugar. They LOVED it!!! I marinated strawberries/blueberries in lemon juice and a tad stevia – let it sit – poured this on top of cake topped before serving and a dollop of with whip cream and VOILA! A an absolutely delicious cake. I will make this again!

  • urooj

    Hi! Thanks for the wonderful recipe!
    Can I use ground oats flour instead of almond flour?? I sooo want to make this cake but I can’t find almond meal where I live and when I grind almonds in my Food processor, it ALWAYS releases oil and I end up in a mess (I end up making nut butter but it’s annoying)!! Same with peanuts!! I have tried many methods but none works for me! woe to me.
    Also where I live, buying it online is like CRAZILY expensive!
    Please reply if I can use oats flour! or any other healthy flour instead of APF!
    Thanks a lot

    • Elise

      Hello urooj, it is an almond cake that uses almond flour as a main ingredient. I have no idea what will happen if one attempts to make this cake with ground oat flour instead. But if you try it that way, please let us know how it turns out for you!

  • Sammy

    I thought the recipe was great! I made sure I used sugar and extra lemon zest. It was awesome!

  • Shannon

    This recipe came out awful. I followed every step by step just the way as written but the yolk, almond flour mixture came out so dry when I folded the egg whites in it, it was still very lumpy. Shouldn’t the almond flour mixture contain some more liquid like lemon juice? I ends up throwing it away. I had high hopes for this recipe and I am very disappointed the way it came out and how poorly the recipe was written.

  • shanthi

    I added some apple sauce, lime juice and frozen blue berries and also stevia instead of sugar. Used cinnamon instead of cardamom. It was divine and also I could eat without feeling guilty. Thanks for the recipe and will definitely make again

  • Liv

    Thought this recipe looked interesting easy and delicious so I made it today and it was amazing! Very simple, light, airy, and honestly surprised people that it was gf. I added lemon juice to boost the flavour, skipped out on the vinegar (didn’t have it), used cinnamon and nutmeg in equal parts because I also didn’t have cardamom, and finally, added pure vanilla extract. I cooked it in a much smaller baking dish and it rose beautifully. It was a hit so thank you for this!

  • Nilstria

    For those of you having trouble incorporating the egg whites, mayhap beat them a little longer and just not care about the first quarter you add. It is there to moisten, break up, and lighten the batter, so let it do what it will when you put it in. That bit really helps to make carefully folding in the remainder much easier. Adding a couple tablespoons of lemon juice in the batter doesn’t hurt either. If you can make coconut macaroons, you can make this easily.

    I made two of these, one with honey in the cake and coconut sugar in the egg whites, and another with all coconut sugar. The first one rose well, but wasn’t that sweet and collapsed a great deal when it came out of the oven. Its crumb was heavier than my second, though still surprisingly moist. The second, with all coconut sugar, rose to the height of my springform pan and definitely held itself better. It had better structure. I think both are fine depending on what you’re going for, but using all coconut sugar versus some honey really did make a difference to the overall composition of the cake.

    I made a glaze out of lemon juice and honey for it and that really added to the flavor and moistness of the cake.

    For those of you baking for “no refined sugar, gluten-free, no-GMO, paleo” people, do not use powdered sugar because it is a refined sugar and has cornstarch in it. If you can, find non-GMO cornstarch. Also, find baking powder that doesn’t have aluminum in it. That was the only thing my friend caught me on, because I didn’t know. Other than that, stick to honey and coconut sugar. Stevia doesn’t add the structure and can add a bad aftertaste.

    I would like to know how this recipe does with other gluten free flours. The almond flour alone made it a little grainy. Maybe half and half with something else and adding a glaze of lemon and sliced almonds?

    • Reir

      Thank you for the tip on folding egg whites, it was very helpful for me.

  • NVance

    I followed the directions but used Splenda (since I am diabetic) and found the cake to be heavy and dry. When adding the egg whites, I had great difficulty incorporating them into the batter which remained quite lumpy. I put it into 3 small bundt type pans (a bit larger than a large muffin tin) and cooked it a little less time. The only thing that redeemed it was putting a lemon glaze on top. It was very disappointing to me.

    • Elise

      Sugar is needed to provide moisture to the cake (that’s one of the useful attributes of sugar in baking). I don’t recommend making the recipe without it.

  • charmin

    what an awful recipe! I ended up with a hard dough, nothing like a cake batter. Simply terrible.

    • Elise

      The recipe actually works, but it isn’t the easiest to pull off. You have to have a light touch when working with beaten egg whites and folding them in. Sorry it didn’t work out for you.

    • Nilstria

      If you ended up with a hard dough, you probably folded in the egg whites wrong and made them collapse, or just didn’t beat them long enough so they fell prematurely. Egg whites require a fine hand and knowing a couple tricks doesn’t hurt.

      First, add in about a quarter of the egg whites and fold it in. Don’t worry if they fall a little. It is designed to loosen and lighten the batter. After that, you should be able to carefully and tenderly fold in the rest. I find myself that incorporating the egg whites in larger increments versus smaller scoopfuls also helps to keep them from falling. If you don’t know how to properly fold in egg whites, look up a demonstration online. The theory is quite simple. I hope you will give this cake another try. It is quite tasty and worth an experiment.

  • Claudette

    Elise- this was absolutely amazing! I did what some others mentioned and used lemon juice. I also added a few drops of almond extract. My daughter loves helping & we baked them in mini cake molds for 25 minutes. So delicious with raspberries. You’re the best!

  • Fadh

    I just baked this cake. It turns out so fine! Fluffy and does not really have the grainy feeling (from the almond flour). Served it with sugar free strawberry preservatives, it’s so yummy! Thanks so much for the recipe :)
    (Note: I replaced white sugar with 1/4 cup of stevia since I’m on low carb diet)

  • Lyn

    Delighted to have ‘stumbled’ on this recipe. It’s in the oven right now so I’m looking forward to a lovely cake for tomorrow.

    Those of you who say 2 tbsp of zest is a lot of work need to invest in a microplane or two. Two lemons, one minute: 2 tbsp of zest. Like others, I used lemon juice instead of vinegar. I also use Citric acid to aid in whipping the egg whites (classic technique).

    I also replaced sugar with Splenda (the bulk version, not the packets and NOT the bake version) to make the carb footprint much lower.

    I want to thank everyone who steps out of the box and dives into the recipe experimentation field! I don’t have your courage I’m sad to say, but know I so appreciate your efforts.

  • Johan & Pauline

    Delicious cake, even better when it is topped with lemon curd! Also, we skipped the cardamom.

  • Zule

    I LOVED THIS! My partner who is not usually a cake person has gone back again and again and again. Here’s what I had to change though:
    1st – I prefer to use lemon and lime juice instead of vinegar, and I doubled or tripled the amount because the batter (before adding egg whites) was just too dry!
    2nd – I added the zest of a lemon and a lime in the cake and I only had ginger and cinnamon for the aromats and they worked so well!
    3rd – because the cake is a little on the ‘subtle’ flavour side, which is absolutely fine – however I added a beautiful sugar syrup made of the juice of one small lime and half a lemon and 3 tbsps of icing sugar which I brought to the boil. I spiked the cake with a knife and drizzled that tangy lemon lime thick syrup all over the cake which seeped into the lightl scented sponge and made it so luscious and with a serious CITRUS BANG! Highly suggest this recipe with extra citrus juice in the batter and the citrus syrup. It was the best happy accident I have ever made!!!

    • Elise

      Great Zule, thank you for all of the ideas to improve the cake!

  • Mish

    I just put this in the oven even though I’m pretty sure I royally screwed it up. I didn’t beat the egg and flour mixture with the hand mixer, only by hand, and it got very hard. I didn’t think it looked smooth but the recipe didn’t call for using the hand mixer so I didn’t. Then when I tried to add the beaten whites (which was the step I was most worried about because I’ve never beaten egg whites stiff before), I couldn’t incorporate it b/c the egg/flour mixture was too hard. I did the best I could and stuck it in the oven, but I don’t think I did that right at all. Elise, can you advise? It’s for my GF sister-in-law’s birthday on Thursday and I really wanted to treat her. What should I do differently when I try it again tomorrow??

  • Siri

    I was wondering if you’ve ever modified this recipe for a larger crowd? I’m holding an event for 50 people and love the sound of this. I’m wondering if I multiply the ingredients by 6 or 7 (allowing a small piece each for 50 guests), what size tin should I use and how long should I bake it for? Thanks!

  • Danielle

    anyone every try to replace the white sugar for an all natural substitute, in particular, Stevia? any idea how the recipe would be modified? Something will need to replace the bulk of the white sugar since you’ll need a lot less Stevia. Thanks!

  • mlt65

    Just make this cake the other day and it is wonderful! I wanted to boost the lemon flavor a bit so added the juice of half a lemon ( about 2 tbls of lemon juice). Delicious! I will be making this often.

  • Arcey

    I was planning on making the lemon ricotta blueberry pound cake for a dinner next week, but now am thinking of maybe doing this recipe instead. I’ve made it a couple of times now, so I know it’s good. My question is this — I already bought the blueberries for the other cake and wonder if they might work well baked into this batter. Any thoughts on this Elise (or anyone else)? Thanks.

    • Melanie

      Why not just serve the blueberries on the side with a dollop of whipped cream?They would add lovely color to the dessert.

  • Laurie

    This was SOO good. I split the batter into 12 muffin pans (1/4 cup each, it was just enough batter) for mini cakes that I then glazed with a simple vanilla extract/powdered sugar/milk icing. To me it’s reminiscent of a fluffier lemon Madeline cookie. I’m a sucker for Madeleine cookies and lemon so this was perfect. Delicious. Thank you!

  • Monica

    I just made this, with the following changes:

    – Used lemon juice instead of vinegar 1:1 (just seemed like a good use for those naked lemons)
    – I don’t like “warm dessert spices”, so I subbed a Tbsp of poppy seeds for the cardamon. I realize that totally changes the flavor. :-)

    It was GREAT! My son has celiac, and I love finding “real” recipes that just happen to be GF. They are usually much better than adapted recipes.

    Thanks Elise!

  • Ceallach

    This looks like a very tasty cake, and the fact that it’s flourless is even better. However, I try to maintain a low carb lifestyle; which begs the question; has anyone made this cake using a sugar substitute, such as stevia? How did it turn out? Garnished with either sugar free blackberry or raspberry preserves, this would make an elegant yet deceptively delicious dessert. The best part is, it would make the perfect ending to a low carb dinner.

  • Teevee

    I don’t have a springform pan right now and I also don’t have cardamom. Is there anything I can use as a replacement? :)

  • Donnchadha Reid

    Cake looks delicious.

    I was just wondering when you say Almond flour do you mean ground almonds?

    • Elise

      Finely ground blanched almonds. You can buy almond flour already finely ground.

  • Lisa @cookeatpaleo

    This sounds wonderful! I will probably try it with coconut sugar or just a little bit of honey instead of white sugar.

  • jazmin

    I made this last night and it is really delicious!

  • Carolyn

    This cake is heaven! Thank you so much for sharing recipe.

  • Greg

    Fantastic!!! I made this yesterday for family dinner with my GF daughter. Added some raspberries on top, with some raspberry syrup. Everyone (even my GF hating son-in-law) loved it!!! Like most GF baked goods, it’s not “tall”, but the texture was better than most GF cakes we’ve tried. Definitely will do this one again!

  • Kim

    Great cake! I made this yesterday and I love it, yum-o!

  • Arcey

    Made this a few days ago for a potluck and it was scrumptious, with rave reviews! There was one piece left over after serving everyone, and instead of saying “does anyone want this last piece.” I quietly packed it up to take it home. Good call! It was even better the next day. I’ll definitely make this again.

    I agree with someone above that 2 tbs. of lemon peel is quite a bit of work, and a lot of lemons. But I think even a little more would have been good — the lemon taste was quite subtle and a little more rind would have increased the lemon flavor, but a little less might make the lemon too subtle.

    I was surprised there was no lemon juice in the recipe. Would that make the cake too wet? I’d love to try it with lemon juice, but would hate to ruin the cake. Anyone have an answer to this? Thanks.

  • Denise Browning

    Hi, Elise! I love how light this Italian-style coffee cake is… I’ve just read Naomi question about substituting agave nectar for sugar. I hope you do not mind that I answer her question. Yes, it is possible to make this cake using agave nectar instead of sugar but the cake will be neither as light as this nor as pale in color. Other things to consider:
    1- For each cup of white sugar replaced, use 2/3 of a cup of agave plus reduce eggs amount by 1/4 (instead of 4 eggs, use 3) so the cake structure will be preserved.
    2- Agave nectar (syrup) will may cause baked items to brown more quickly. Because of this, oven temperature should be reduced by 25°F and baking time increased slightly.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe with us!!! Hoping to make the original recipe soon.

  • Bethany

    I plan to make this for my friend’s birthday party next Saturday. Before I buy the springform pan, I’m wondering if there is an answer to the 9-inch vs. smaller pan question. It looks as though some may have found the 9-inch pan to be too wide for substantial rise to the cake?

  • akajb

    Yum. Yum. Yum. We made it and it was awesome. Although, we had two small changes because of ingredients.

    1) only probably used about 1.5 tbsp lemon rind. It’s labor intensive and requires a lot of lemons for the 2.
    2) didn’t have ground cardamon, so used 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/8 tsp ground cloves (as found on a substitution site).

    Anyway, with both of those it turned out AWESOME! So yummy, and definitely a recipe I’ll make again.

    • Julie

      Here’s a tip which cuts down on the labor: When Meyer lemons are in season buy a big bag of them and peel them, being careful not to get the pith. Toss the peels into a food processor with some sugar and give it a spin until the peels are finely ground. Store the sugar in your freezer and add to it whenever you use a lemon. Then, when a recipe calls for lemon zest, just use the lemon sugar. The sugar has the texture of wet sand but that doesn’t effect the outcome of the cake. I just used it to make this cake (I used 1/2 cup total of lemon sugar, no added zest) and it turned out great. I served it topped with sliced fresh strawberries that I had tossed with a little bit of limoncello. The cake is so good that I am going to have it plain with my morning coffee.

  • Jennifer

    I made this for a New Year’s dinner, and it was awesome! I’m new to baking, so I was concerned when the egg yolk and flour mixture made a dough ball, then had to fold in the egg whites. I thought I had messed up, but it started to come together finally. Served it with fresh whipped cream and raspberries, and it was heavenly. Love your recipes! Everyone thinks I’m a great cook, but I’m just good at following directions for your recipes! Happy New Year!

  • Chelsea Peddler

    Made this last night – exact recipe. Hubby and kids loved it and so did I – thank you Elise! I found your site this year and have truly enjoyed going there to look for specific recipes, and just to read for enjoyment. Thank you for such a quality site. You are my ‘break’ or ‘treat’ when I have worked all day and need a rest.

  • Colorado cook

    Thank you for this recipe. Two of my kids are gluten-free, and I was wondering what to make for Christmas dessert. We made this cake and it was wonderful!

  • Arcey

    Elise, the Red Mill almond flour was out of stock, and I see that it’s almost $10, so I was wondering what your thoughts are on the ground almond meal that’s sold at Trader Joe’s. I would think the Red Mill flour is a finer texture, but not sure if that will be a big difference in the outcome. Should I use the TJ’s product as is, or maybe toss it in the food processor for a few seconds, or just wait til I can find almond flour somewhere else. I want to make the cake next week. Thanks. Looks so wonderful!

  • Angela

    I love your recipes, but since I have recently been eating gluten free, dairy free, yeast free, and sugar free, I haven’t been able to make a lot of them. My mom and I made this today, making a few modifications, and I am so happy to say it turned out great! We used powdered stevia and to counteract the extra dryness that seems to go along with stevia, we added an extra egg. We also reduced the cooking time to 25 minutes and since we couldn’t find our spring form pan we used a bunt cake with a removable center. Our first successul gluten free/sugar free baking experience!

    • angie d

      angela, can you give measurements on the stevia?? im on a candida diet so I also eat sugar free and stevia is all I use.

    • angie d

      angela, can you tell me how much stevia you used?? I also eat sugar free and stevia is all I use.

  • Andy

    I substituted Splenda for the sugar and it came out great. Not only is it tasty, now it is super low carb. Great recipe!!

  • Aleel

    This cake turned out wonderfully and was the perfect closer to my Christmas meal, not too heavy or sweet. It was also tasty with cranberry sauce.

  • Rosalia

    So this recipe looks more like a cake from Northern Spain called a Torta de Santiago which is my absolute favorite thing to get when I visit my grandparents. Why it never occurred to me that I could make my own I don’t know but I definitely want to try it and see if it’s what I think it is. I’m sooooo excited!

    • Rob

      Funny, I was going to say that it was a gató, from Mallorca. Maybe every part of Spain has a version.

  • Frances

    I made this for Christmas and it was devoured by my son who is wheat-free. I loved it too!

  • giantsfan

    Delicious! Perfect dessert after a heavy meal.
    thanks, Again!

  • Julie In San Diego

    Just finished dessert, and this cake was a hit with all. Excellent directions. Thanks.


  • nikkipolani

    Mmmm — came out delicious. I think my springform pan was bigger than yours so the cake wasn’t as tall, but the flavor is very very nice and texture is perfect. When my egg-and-almond-flour seemed more pasty than smooth, I was worried. But once all the egg whites were incorporated, the batter worked out fine. Still thick, but your description of scooping rather than pouring encouraged me that I was on the right track. Thank you!

  • Christine Walker

    Tried it. Really good.

  • Ellen

    I just took this cake out of the oven, and I’ll bet it tastes delicious. But… A 9-inch pan is too big. The cake is 3/4 inch tall, and it looks taller in the photo. Technique wasn’t the problem. I’m an experienced baker, and I know how to beat and fold in egg whites. And I used extra-large eggs. I really do think a smaller pan is necessary.

    • Noelle

      I have to agree with this post. I just made the cake and there is too little batter for the size of the pan. I checked the recipe multiple times to make sure I didn’t make a mistake. I’ll use a smaller pan next time.

  • glindy

    This recipe has a lot of potential…perhaps the fresh cardoman powder I used was to fresh, it could be cut in half…it dominated the expensive almond flour (same brand as suggested) …a major upset…my meyer lemon shined…but perhaps too much, using meyers can dominate.
    Sorry the almond cake didn’t taste….but the texture in this recipe was fantastic. Remake!

  • pvl

    what kind of vinegar? White? Cider? Wine?

    • Elise

      White or cider. I’ve now clarified that point in the recipe. Thanks!

  • Ruth Geddes

    Could this cake be made a day or so ahead of time and still be good, or does it need to be served the same day it was made? or … could you make it ahead of time and freeze it?


    • Elise

      Great questions all. I don’t know! I’ve only ever made it and served it right away.

    • Aya

      It’d probably stay good if stored in the refrigerator for only a day, but dessert right out of the oven is usually the best. You’d have to eat cold cake… Unless you heated it, which might ruin the cake (I’m not sure).

    • Pearl

      I made little loaves and individually wrapped them in saran wrap and stored them in the fridge for about a week, toasting them as I had them and topping with berries and whipped cream… they were still very delicious to me!

  • Gayle

    Do you think it would be possible to skip the baking powder (so I could make it for Passover)? Or would it be way too dense?


    • Elise

      Hi Gayle, yes you could easily skip the baking powder. Most similar recipes I’ve found do not add baking powder. I like the addition because it helps give the cake just a little more structure.

    • Karen Tintori

      They do make a K for P baking powder.

  • Naomi

    Can we say “yes”?!? This is such a great idea… I wonder if I could substitute the sugar with agave nectar to make it adaptable to paleo? I am sharing this on Facebook, since I have a lot of gluten-free friends :)

    • Elise

      Possibly, though I don’t know how agave would work to help the egg whites with structure.

    • Rebecca

      You might want to try coconut sugar. It is low glycemic and behaves a lot like sugar….

  • Louise

    Do you know whether this would work with xylitol. Hubbie is diabetic so no sugar for him.

    • Elise

      Don’t know about artificial sweeteners. I don’t think it would work with the egg whites.

      • Laura Barker

        I’ve used xlitol to make meringues in the past and they came out fine!

  • Lillian

    This looks divine. Do you think it might hold up for baking as cupcakes or mini-cupcakes?

  • mr waturi

    I was very excited to see this entry, as I have been gluten free for over a year now. but then I saw the almond flour. I am ridiculously intolerant of almonds too. woe is me. any other flours i could use?

    • Adrian Seltzer

      Are you allergic to all nuts? If not try a different ground nut or look into a gluten free flour mix to sub.

  • Bec

    I need a GF dessert for Christmas Day and this looks perfect! Have you tried it with orange instead of lemon?

    • Chris

      I have! I did something similar very recently, but used whole oranges that I boiled first, then pureed in the food processor. I used the recipe from Comfy Belly for Valencia Orange Cake. I’m going to do Elise’s recipe for New Year’s.

      • Jazmin


        Did you use an orange with a thick peel or a thin one? or it doesn’t matter?.

        I don’t know if an orange with a thick peel could affect the flavor.


  • Judith

    Could you use lemon juice instead of vinegar to boost the lemon flavor?
    I love your recipes!

    • Amy in Fl

      I also wondered that and almost put some lemon juice in it but didn’t. I like this cake wish I couldn’t taste the eggs…I don’t like eggs at all.
      The lemon flavor was very faint. I also added some shredded unsweetened coconut on top just because I love it.
      For a non gluten recipe it is pretty good!

    • J-chan

      I put in a tbsp of lemon juice and it tasted great! No harm to the cake at all.