(Gluten Free!) Meyer Lemon Almond Cake

The other day, a very dear friend brought me six huge plump and fragrant meyer lemons from her grandmother’s tree. I’d had my eye on a lemon-almond cake recipe that I’d clipped from Vegetarian Times magazine several years ago, as I love a nice, rustic tea-cake. I decided to make it gluten-free for my intolerant sister (ahem, that is, gluten-intolerant) and substituted the flour with extra ground almonds and some tapioca flour.

I was also ecstatic to find attractive, organic, California-grown strawberries that weren’t outrageously overpriced the other day. I snapped them up, and served them, quartered and macerated with a bit of sugar, with said cake.

This dense, moist, not-too-sweet cake calls for a few different steps; toasting the almonds, grinding them with the tapioca flour, creaming the butter and sugar, whipping the whites to soft peaks, but they are all fairly simple to execute, and ensure delicious results. I may be a bad Jew, but I think this might even be kosher for Passover, no? (When is Passover, again?)

Strawberries! Spring can’t be too far off, now…

Nuts for Cake:

(Gluten-Free) Buckwheat Hazelnut Financier Cake
(Gluten-Free) Chocolate Hazelnut Financier Cake
Berry-Fig Financiers

(Gluten-Free) Meyer Lemon Almond Cake

Adapted from Vegetarian Times
Makes one 8″ round cake, or 8-10 servings

I imagine you could use almond flour or meal for this cake with adequate results. Blanched flour would probably result in a lighter color, texture and flavor, which wouldn’t necessarily be bad things.

1 1/2 cups whole almonds, lightly toasted and cooled (see note)
4 ounces (1/2 cup, 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
zest of two medium meyer lemons
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

For serving (optional):
powdered sugar, for dusting the cooled cake
lightly sweetened whipped cream
1-2 pints strawberries, hulled, quartered and tossed with a bit of sugar

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350º. Butter an 8″ round cake pan, and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and zest until light and fluffy, 5 minutes on medium, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the yolks one at a time, mixing to combine.

Meanwhile, in a food processor or coffee grinder, grind the almonds with the tapioca as finely as possible without turning them into almond butter. Add the baking powder and salt to combine.

On low, stir the almond mixture into the butter mixture. Gradually add the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl.

In a clean, large bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. With a large rubber spatula, stir a third of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in the rest just to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top springs back when pressed with a finger, about 45 minutes. Let cool ten minutes. Invert a plate over the top of the cake, and, using oven mitts, flip the whole thing over. Remove the cake pan and the paper, and let the cake cool completely, about 1 hour, before serving.

11 thoughts on “(Gluten Free!) Meyer Lemon Almond Cake”

  1. Smells so good that I can sniff it from here :)
    If I were you I'd put those wonderful strawberries (oh that's true – you live in California so you have organic, plumpy, juicy, savoury strawberries during the whole year…… That's just unfair :() into the cake, but it's a matter of personal taste! ;)
    Humm I've never tried tapioca flour. Sounds like I'll have serious problems to find it :P Is it ok if I replace it with rice flour?
    I share your passion for plumpy and tasty lemons :P My family comes from Sicily and I have an uncle there, that has a lemon tree in his garden; sometimes, when he comes here, he gives us 4 or 5 lemons. So little and yellow and perfumed and sweet… When they're gone, it's hard to start using again those supermarket lemons.
    That's nice of you to do this tea cake thinking about your "intolerant" sister XDD And these substitution with ground almonds allowed you to create a delicious treat! Yumm!
    [You know, your blog intrigued me at first sight because in my city there is a place called Bojon – no joke! It's a little town dispersed in the countryside and people from the city centre use to have some prejudices concerning Bojon people… :P When you say something strange or you do something not that bright, probably someone will ask you: "But where do you come from? Bojon??" (For my part, I come from the countryside too, so this is not that funny. :P)

  2. I love that about Bojon people– hilarious! I lived in Bologna for a year, so Italy and Italian culture are very near and dear to my heart. Feel free to post comments in Italian!

    As for the tapioca flour, you can try using rice flour, but the texture might be more crumbly. If you don't care about it being gluten free, you can just use regular wheat flour. Where do you live?

    Thanks for writing!


  3. Ahah yes, Bojon is fun. :) In Venetian dialect "Bo" (the semantic root of the word "Bojon") is the cow, so it's quite fun to say "Boyon", that means something like "The place of the cows".

    I live in Padova (Padua). Do you know it?

    Oooh reallyyy, you lived in Bologna!! Were you studying there for the University? Bologna is just lovely.

    I keep writing in English (or trying to do that) because I'm a Languages student at the University… This is my first year and I'm a bit rusty in written language, so I just HAVE to improve my writing :PPP and I try to write in English as much as I can.

    Anzi, sarei felicissima se tu mi indicassi gli errori più grossolani che commetto (non sentirti in obbligo, so che è estremamente noioso e anche solo scriverti in inglese è per me un esercizio utilissimo!). I miei nemici più grandi sono i tempi verbaliiiiii!! :)

    Thank YOU for your kindness and for visiting my blog. :)
    I love your one – have I said that before?… ;P

  4. Sei troppo carina!

    First of all, your English is fantastic! Much, much better than my Italian, which I have sadly forgotten so much of. And your blog is beautiful as well – so creative!

    I spent only one night in Padova, so I don't know it well at all. I was studying Storia dell'arte at the University of Bologna. I'm so glad that I got to experience living in Italy! Have you been to California?

  5. No, but I'd like it soooo much!!
    I've been in New York and in New Jersey (only for a short trip), cause I have some relatives there.
    America attracts me so much, I hope one day I'll come there to learn a little bit of American bakery :P

    Well, so you have to come in Padua and visit it!! :) Did you know that in Padua there is the third greatest square in the world (the first in Europe)?? Did you know we have the oldest botanical garden in the world?? Did you know that in Padua university used to teach Galileo Galilei? :) If one day you'll want to refresh your Italian you'll be welcome in my house! Really, you're so nice. And then you studied Storia dell'Arte, and I love storia dell'arte. ;)

    Thanks so much for your compliments, I'm glad you likes Rosmarina, my alter ego! And sorry for my delay in answering you. I had a busy week: finally I had my driver's license!!

    I have a lot of new posts written by you to read… Yum! :)

  6. I'm going to try this for a friend's birthday. She would like a frosted cake. I was thinking of doing a mascarpone cheese frosting. Do you think that would go well with it?

    (I may just have to make one for myself over the weekend, just to find out!)

    1. Possibly! You’ll have to experiment and see how it goes. Coconut oil or Earth Balance would be other options that are closer to butter. LMK how it goes!

  7. Hi Alanna,
    Do you know what the equivalent of 1 1/2 cups whole almonds would be in almond flour?
    Thanks, & I really love your recipes and sensibility :)

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