Flourless Almond Cake

This flourless almond cake is French and flavorful and gluten-free through and through, crisp and crunchy on the outside, dense and chewy on the inside. Perfect for Passover.

A round flourless almond cake on a wooden baking paddle with almonds scattered around it

“Exceptionally sweet, moist, and dense, almost more like a giant almond macaroon or a marzipan confection of some sort, buttery and almond and chewy.” That’s how the author describes this flourless almond cake. That pretty much sums it up. Unlike many gluten-free cakes, this one is quite crisp and crunchy on the outside, dense and moist and chewy on the inside. It’s also known as amandier or gâteau de Visan, after the Provençal village where it originated. A cup of coffee or strongly brewed tea nicely offsets the cake’s not-so-subtle-yet-still-lovely sweetness. Originally published April 7, 2016.Renee Schettler Rossi

*How To Make This Flourless Almond Cake Kosher For Passover

This flourless almond cake can easily be made kosher for Passover by paying careful attention to the ingredients. Most conventional confectioners’ sugar contains cornstarch, which isn’t kosher for Passover. However, many brands of organic confectioners’ sugars instead contain tapioca starch. Check the ingredients list to be certain. You’ll also need to substitute the seeds from a vanilla bean for the vanilla extract. Depending on how much you fancy the flavor of vanilla, you can use anywhere from 1 inch of a vanilla bean to 1/4 the entire vanilla bean in this recipe.

Flourless Almond Cake

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 50 M
  • Makes one 6-inch (15-centimeter) cake

Special Equipment: 6-inch round cake pan

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons ground almonds (almond flour), sifted
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar*
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 oz), melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract*

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line a 6-inch cake pan with parchment paper cut to fit and generously butter the bottom and sides of the pan.
  • 2. In a large bowl, combine the ground almonds, salt, confectioners’ sugar, and granulated sugar. Add the beaten egg, melted butter, and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth. The batter should be quite thick. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top.
  • 3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Carefully turn the cake out of the pan onto a wire rack and let it cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap until serving. The almond cake will keep in an airtight container, or well wrapped in plastic wrap, for several days, though it’s unlikely that anyone will resist for that long.

Flourless Almond Cake Variations

  • Feel free to vary the recipe with lemon or lime zest in place of the vanilla or even a tablespoon of orange flower water instead.

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Recipe Testers Reviews

This quick-to-prepare, light-tasting cake, or rather, confection, has just the right amount of sweetness and the lovely taste of almond. The almond cake recipe is easy to assemble and the cake turns out moist in the middle and slightly firm at the edges.

I didn't have a 6-inch cake tin so I just heaped the batter on a buttered parchment sheet, smoothed it into a circle with the back of a spatula, and placed it in a 9-inch pie dish, leaving several inches of empty space between the edge of the pie plate and the batter. The free-formed cake cooked up beautifully and I knew it was done when the toothpick came out clean after about 40 minutes or so.

It was cut into wedges and served warm with espresso and milk and enjoyed by all who tried it. Everyone asked for seconds!

It would be hard to eat just one thin slice of this cake. In fact, it would be next to impossible. This cake is quite irresistible. The texture was so lovely, especially around the edges, and the color was beautiful. The buttery almond flavor was divine, and while there certainly wouldn’t be any harm in trying the cake with the citrus zest or orange flower water suggested, I'd also try substituting rose water for the vanilla.

The cake isn't very tall. It's worth investing in a 6-inch cake pan, which isn't difficult to track down.

At 35 minutes, the cake didn't look done. At 40 minutes, the toothpick tested clean. This was the first one, the one that broke a bit on removal from the pan. I was baking with a friend, and we thought we would try 48 minutes on the second round. The second time, the cake looked golden brown, browner than anticipated, at 45 minutes. We were still seeing a bit of uncooked batter in the center at 45 minutes. My thought is at least 48 minutes is needed and maybe even a few minutes longer.

Lastly, I dare anyone, even a solo eater, to try to keep this cake around for any length of time, though it's nice to know this could be done successfully if my willpower would cooperate! This is lovely with a cup of nice, strong black tea.

This simple recipe produces a densely delicious cake that can easily be put together in the spur of the moment. It can be served as suggested, in thin slices with tea or coffee, or plated with a dollop of cream (unsweetened since the cake has so much sweet marzipan-like flavor).

I actually made it twice, and I think that, at least for my oven, a slightly longer baking time and more attention to beating the egg helped improve the second one. The first one came out lightly golden at 35 minutes with the classic smooth sheet on top, pulling away slightly form the edges of the pan, but when I turned it out, it looked concave. It was still delicious both the first night and the next day, though it became more dense. For almond lovers, that is still all good. I set that one aside and made a second cake the next day. I thought that since, unlike other almond cakes where you whip the egg whites separately, maybe I needed a bit more egg volume, so I chose a larger egg and, using a wire whisk by hand, really beat it a full 1 1/2 or 2 minutes. I still folded in the egg and melted butter as gently as I could.

The other thing is to be gentle with the filled pan and just place it in the oven (i.e., don’t rap the cake pan to release air like you might have been taught as a kid making his or her first cakes). This needs to just have the batter smoothed and then baked. Resist the urge to open the oven to check on it. Just test it at 35 minutes and be sure the color is right—you want a toasted, golden look. If it isn’t quite there yet, give it another 5 minutes.

It turns out easily—I put a second piece of parchment on the cooling rack to turn it over onto. Cut with a very sharp or serrated knife. No need to add anything, though a small dollop of unsweetened cream and a bit of citrus zest or a sprig of mint would be elegant for guests. It makes a 6-inch cake that can easily serve 8 if you don’t hide it and keep it for yourself. I stored my wrapped cake in the fridge, and it had a nice firm denseness that was even better the second day. My mate rated this an 11! I appreciated this cake all the more when I saw the prices it sells for online! Not bad for 15 minutes prep and a little patience.

The flavor of the cake was very subtle and fairly sweet. I would've liked a touch less sugar. The edges were nice and chewy, and the middle was decadently buttery and soft.

This flourless almond cake certainly won’t win any awards for looks—the top was pale and slightly lumpy looking, and the inside crumb was dense and less than photogenic. But the flavor and the aroma more than made up for its lackluster appearance. The almond flavor was subtle but nicely complemented by a hint of vanilla.

The cake came together in no time with just a bowl and a spoon, which means that I can have fresh almond cake in less than an hour with little cleanup. I will definitely be making this again, though I might add a touch of almond extract next time in addition to the vanilla extract.

I have a 6-inch cake pan that I've never used, so I was thrilled to find a recipe for a 6-inch cake. The finished cake was about 1 inch tall. I was already mixing up the cake when I realized there was no leavening of any kind. I was afraid the cake would be too dense, but it was fine.

After 35 minutes of baking, the cake still seemed soft and looked raw on top. After 40 minutes, the cake was firm, and a tester came out clean. My almond flour was made from natural almonds, not blanched almonds. I imagine that’s why my cake was less golden than the picture.

This flourless almond cake is definitely not a tender crumb cake you might associate with the term "cake," but it was a very flavorful little gluten-free cake. The almond and vanilla flavors were very pronounced, which we liked. I used an 8-inch buttered pan with parchment paper. It took 27 minutes to turn golden. The cake didn't rise very much but remained sweet and crunchy on top.

I served our almond cake in thin slices with fresh peaches and softly whipped cream. It was an irresistible gluten-free dessert!

This is a good recipe in terms of taste. Itʻs like a very large cookie, albeit a very soft cookie, rather than a cake.

Comments

  1. David, I could kiss you for mentioning the K-for-Passover powdered sugar. I hadn’t known it existed. This cake is perfect for Passover because anyone would love it at any time. Thank you thank you!!!

  2. This looks wonderful, and a great candidate for Passover, perhaps with whipped cream and berries. (In addition to finding a confectioners’ sugar without cornstarch, you’d want to use vanilla bean in place of extract.) Has anyone tried it with olive oil in place of butter? It seems a natural match for the almonds. (I’ll report back if I do.)

    1. Jennie, many thanks for touching base and especially for the vanilla bean trick, I’ve added that to the recipe. We did not test it with olive oil but you’re right, it does seem a likely match. Kindly let us know how it goes!

  3. I need to see what size my smallest cake pan is; if it’s 6 inches, I will try this right away; if not, I’ll get a 6-inch pan, which sounds like an excellent size for a cake! I make an almond cake from Alice Medrich that has 1 1/2 ounces of flour and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder so I am interested to see what how different this cake will be with none! Mine also has almond extract and a little Amaretto, no vanilla, so it will most likely be a good addition to my arsenal of the kind of cakes I like—no icing with enough flavor to stand on its own (except for some Jeni’s Sweet Cream Ice Cream, of course)!

    1. Oh, Victoria, you said the magic words—Jeni’s Sweet Cream Ice Cream! I am a fool for that. I also think you’ll really like the presentation of a 6-inch cake. You can also make layer cakes that are stacked 6-inch cakes and they tend to look truly spectacularly due to the towering effect. That size is also, natch, much more practical for those of us with smaller households. Do let us know how it goes, please and thanks!

      1. Renee,

        What I consider my neat trick for Jeni’s Sweet Cream Ice Cream is I substitute 3 tablespoons of Lyle’s Golden Syrup for the ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) of light corn syrup. It gives the ice cream a very slight caramel-ly taste. I really love it and hope you will try it sometime.

  4. I finally made this cake yesterday. I blitzed whole unblanched untoasted almonds in the food processor to make my own flour and did not sift it. I used India Tree Icing Sugar (confectioners), which I sifted through a strainer because I find confectioners’ sugar tends to clump, and India Tree Castor Sugar, and followed the rest of the instructions explicitly. After baking for exactly 35 minutes, I removed the cake from the oven, immediately ran an offset spatula around the edge and removed it from the cake pan. It was PERFECT! I have already added this to my repertoire. It is different and very special, more like a macaroon than a cake. Perfect for four – maybe even six people if topped with ice cream or Crême Chantilly with a little Luxardo Amaretto added. Next time I will stick with the India Tree Icing Sugar but try organic sugar instead of the castor sugar. The larger beige crystals might add a nice touch.

  5. This cake came out fantastic! Cooked to perfection. I used confectioners’ maple sugar and granulated maple sugar and it added a mild flavor that was delicious. Thank you for a great gluten-free recipe that was super easy to make. RF

  6. “Most conventional confectioners’ sugar contains cornstarch, which is not kosher for Passover. However, many brands of organic confectioners’ sugars instead contain tapioca starch.”

    Who knew?

    Yeah, I’m not a huge baker but I did attend culinary school and have been around the block once or twice (usually to try and vindicate myself of the extra serving of cake) and I had NO IDEA that confectioners sugar contained anything but, well, sugar!

    I am such a lapsed Jew that I really couldn’t care less about keeping Passover, but thanks for teaching me something new. I feel a little silly to be honest. About the sugar, not Passover.

    1. Lauren, you’re welcome. And no need to feel silly. To be honest, I didn’t know that until I’d been working as a food editor for several years and was researching a problem with a recipe. As you said, who knew?! It’s all good. Just like this flourless almond cake. Looking forward to hearing which other recipes on the site intrigue and teach you…

  7. I wanted to make this cake without butter so I made it with avocado oil instead of butter. I doubled the quantities as I wanted a bigger cake. I don’t understand how you would have gotten a very big cake with the original quantities as stated above, as the one I made with doubled quantities wasn’t very big either. I put almond extract in addition to the vanilla, which was also good. I would call it more of a dense brownie kind of texture than a cake. It is quite sticky – did anyone else think so? I put parchment paper in the tin and won’t be doing that again because it was a pain to get off the cake without breaking the cake. I love cakes made with almond meal but I’m not quite sure about this one as yet. It is not bad but I am going to reserve judgment until I make it with the original quantities and butter instead of oil. I will report back.

    1. Sagar, with all the substitutions you made, it’s hard to make a judgment call. Avocado oil and butter are not interchangeable in baking. Also, I never, ever suggest doubling a baking recipe. It often doesn’t work out. Instead I suggest making two of the recipe. Last, the recipe makes a 6-inch cake, which is specified in the servings section.

  8. Okay, so here goes David. I made the cake to the recipe without any substitutions. I am happy to report that I had frozen my first version and was able to do a side by side taste comparison. What do you know – the difference was – wait for it………………….. negligible. Three of us tasted the two versions under highly clinical conditions i.e. we love cake and dived in – and eh voila – we could barely discern a difference. So, going forward, I will make it with avocado oil because it does the trick and is healthier and I like staying away from butter in baking – I like the challenge. So there:). The good news is that the cake freezes beautifully and tastes better the next day and even when frozen. it does make a small cake however – more like a large biscuit:).

    1. Urmila, we didn’t test it without eggs, and so I’m hesitant to offer any suggestions because we only post recipes that we have tested over and over with great success. Eggs are a critical binder in this recipe since it doesn’t contain gluten. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.

  9. My mom cannot have gluten or cane sugar/confectioners sugar. Can you suggest a substitute? I’d really like to make this cake for her.
    Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

    1. Jean, I so admire your desire to make this cake for your mom! However, we didn’t test the recipe with any sweetener other than sugar and I worry that using a different sweetener will not only affect the flavor profile but the texture of the cake. I, too, am on a limited diet, and I have had the most success when I make recipes that are designed without those ingredients that I can’t have rather than when I try to tweak and make substitutions in other recipes. Baking is such a precise science and this recipe has so few ingredients I really worry what changing one of them would do. I would love to help but I don’t want you or your mom to be disappointed.

    2. Also look for beet sugar. It is interchangeable in recipes with cane sugar. My brother is allergic to cane sugar as well. We used to use Walmart brand sugar since it stated it was beet sugar. They have changed it to sugar and I am forced to go to health food stores to buy beet sugar. I never noticed a difference in taste before (I am very picky). As I said Walmart sold it as their store brand sugar. Good luck.

  10. This cake was so, so good! It was moist on the inside and wonderfully chewy on the outside, exactly what I was looking for. I was baking it for a friend and wanted to try a sample of it first, so I made it in two 4″ tart pans instead of the single 6″ cake pan. I decreased the bake time to about 30 minutes and it worked great. The recipe reminded me a lot of financiers, so I took inspiration from those and browned the butter. I used vanilla but might try some Meyer lemon zest or the suggested orange flower water next time. And trust me, there will be a next time!

    1. Grace, that is magnificent to hear! All of it! Many kind thanks for taking the time to let us know how well it worked. And I love your spirit of innovation. Simply love it. Looking forward to hearing about those variations and about what you think of the next recipe you try on our site!

  11. just made this cake. Ok I didn’t have a 6 inch pan, but a 20cm so almost 8 inches. it came out a bit thin, so i was discouraged, until….. i tasted it, it’s delicious!! then suddenly the thinness didn’t matter, love it!

    1. Wonderful, Sheyla! And we understand that a 6-inch pan is sorta uncommon, and we had intended to try to tweak the recipe to work in a larger size pan, but the cake’s taste and texture are so wonderful we didn’t want to mess with it at all!

  12. Due to an auto-immune issue, I am having to try the ‘gluten free’ diet and so glad to find so many great looking recipes on here. This one sounds really nice and for some reason, I’m thinking this, topped with your ‘nutella’ recipe would make a great ‘frosting’… Hmm.. Yep, that does sound good :)

    1. LOOOOOOOVE! I’m largely gluten-free for the same reason, PJ, and it’s remarkable how many lovely recipes just happen to be gluten-free, as I’m sure you’re finding. Personally, I tend to prefer those recipes that don’t require jumping through a lot of hoops or other obstacles, but that’s just me. Happy baking and noshing!

  13. I have now made this recipe dozens of times and have found that if I double all the ingredients (except the salt, which I keep the same), it works well in an 8-inch cake pan. When I increase the size of the pan from 6 to 8 inches, I find that in my oven 40 minutes is the amount of time I cook it; 35 in the 6-inch pan.

  14. Favorite cake recipe to do. Especially for emergencies. I and most of of my family are gluten free and it’s great to have a cake that is gluten free and yet still, in one of my cousin’s words, tastes like real food. I usually double the recipe and cook for 1hr. Two double batches if i am making a two layer cake. It goes well with a varied type of different flavor icings.

  15. Not sure what I did wrong but my top and bottom got crispy but the inside didn’t cook. Maybe I blended my batter too much? I used a six inch square dish maybe it was too thick to bake it in?

    1. Hi Sharon, it sounds like your oven temperature might be a little off. Have you tried calibrating your oven with an oven thermometer? Did you use a cake tester to test doneness?

  16. I’ve made this twice. The first time as written, and the second time I doubled it, added a quarter cup of cocoa powder, and baked it in an 8″ pan. Delicious! Like the fudgy, chewy brownies I’ve missed since going gluten-free.

  17. I am almost crying with joy over this cake! Not only is it really fast to put together, it came out beautifully despite me forgetting to sift the almond flour, and stirring in the vanilla while the batter was in the pan, due to a case of Absent-minded Augh. I haven’t done much baking since being diagnosed with non-celiac gluten intolerance and also because I have non-standard working hours where I end up coming home close to midnight and I have housemates who wouldn’t really be at all pleased if I started clanking around in the apartment at 1am. This comes together quick enough that I can throw it together on the weekends or a half-day off.

    I didn’t have a 6″ pan, so I used the nearest thing I had – a 7″ pan, and while it’s a more like a rather chonky flat biscuit (cookie) instead, it tastes so. so. good. I’ve been sneaking chips off it while waiting for it to cool. This is a keeper. Cake! I don’t usually eat cake but this is a treat that I have really missed since going gluten-free.

      1. David, exactly!!! I don’t often eat cake as it is, even when I still could – but this is so good I could go through a whole one myself!

        Guess what I’m making again tonight after an absolute crappy week :) Thank you so much for this recipe. It makes me smile like a Cheshire cat on sugar and crack highs!

          1. It is now 3/4 gone and I absolutely REFUSE to feel guilty for scarfing down all of that on my own.

            If the Cheshire Cat was in a Biggest Grin competition with me right now, it’d lose FLAT OUT. I’m still grinning (and purring) and it is only by a sheer act of willpower that there is any more cake left for tomorrow. BLISS.

  18. This almond cake is like a big, delicious macaron. The only issue I had was that my cake didn’t rise much—my finished result was much thinner than in the picture above. I have extra almond flour so I’ll be trying the recipe with metric measurements this weekend! Side note: Though I’m sure coffee complements this cake well, we were noshing in the evening and so opted for glass of Madeira instead. This was a perfect pairing. I mean, who needs coffee when you have wine?!

    1. Love that you fell for this cake, Kristen! Ours, too, were on the thin side as it’s a moist and dense cake. Let us know how it goes with the metric measurements! And why choose?! Let there be coffee AND wine!

  19. I’m very excited to make this recipe but was curious if I could replace the honey with Swerve for a sweeter flavor? If so, would you recommend granular or powdered? Thank you!

    1. Roxanne, there is no honey in the recipe. That being said, we haven’t tested this recipe with sugar substitutes. If you try it, follow the manufacturer’s substitution recommendations for the best results.

  20. Made this little cake recipe after work to take with me tonight to our homegroup. The recipe is super quick and easy. Not quite the texture I expected, I should’ve sifted the almond flour more but the little piece of cake I tried (that fell off the side) tasted good! I use coconut sugar instead of white sugar. I plan to serve it with some squirty whipped cream and a blueberry compote I made.

    Two flourless almond cakes on a cooling rack on a kitchen counter

    1. Lovely, Amy! And I am sorta enthralled with using coconut sugar here, I think that lends just the right note to the other ingredients, many kind thanks for sharing that inspiration! And that gorgeous shot!

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