Gluten-free olive oil cake gets a flavor boost from lemon zest and almond flour, keeping it grain-free and dairy-free to boot. Enjoy this incredibly moist, tender, springy cake on its own, or serve it up with whipped cream and fresh spring berries. Also, a farewell to someone special.
A Dainty Gentleman
Huge thanks to everyone for your love, support, and suggestions regarding our dear Catamus in my last post, which feels like ages ago now. We very sadly said goodbye to him on Friday, May 8th, when it became clear that his condition was worsening. We didn’t want him to suffer needlessly anymore. Though we’re heartbroken to have lost our darling boy, missing him terribly every minute of every day, we feel lucky to have so many caring friends and family who have helped us through this time. Thank you for being among them.
Catamus has been a huge part of TBG since the day we brought him home in February of 2011. We met this spry 2-year-old from Yolo County at the SPCA one wintry night. He charmed us by giving us head butts and showing us his belly, circling us as we sat in his area, and looking up at us with a pair of intense golden eyes as if to say “It’s me! Take me home!” Looking into his expressive eyes was like looking into a human’s. We fell hard for this quirky little person.
Jay and I both work from home, so Catamus was not only like a child to us over the years, but also a co-worker or purrrrsonal assistant.
Catamus would sit directly behind me in the kitchen as I cooked, swishing his tail underfoot, and getting incensed when I’d inevitably step on it. He would walk around my desk as I wrote, knocking things over with his long, curly tail, which seemed to have a mind of its own. He only wanted to sit on my lap when I was typing on my lap keyboard, which he would step on. And he would try to lick whatever I was shooting, often photobombing shots in the process.
As I wrote posts late at night, he would make biscuits on the back of the couch next to my desk before settling in for a snooze, lending moral support during those long hours.
Catamus would sit at the table with us at mealtimes. We learned that he liked odd foods such as oatmeal, popcorn, roasted broccoli, feta cheese, and padron pepper stems. He had a special fondness for almonds in all forms, particularly almond butter and anything made with almond flour.
While developing this gluten-free olive oil cake for my Alternative Baking column in GFF Magazine in 2018, I left the cake to cool on the dining table. When I came back to remove the cooled cake from the pan, I noticed that there were ruts in the top of the cake. After some confusion, I realized that Catamus had quietly climbed onto the table and licked divots in the top of the cake when I wasn’t looking. The slices shown in these photos were all I could salvage.
Catamus accrued many names and titles over the years including, in no particular order, Prince Catamus of Orange, Sir Catamus, Catumas (pronounced cuh-TOO-mus), Catamonious, Catamus J. Cat Esq., HRH (His Royal Highness), The Dainty Gentleman, Fluffy Pants, Catmandu, Catamus Toes, Sunny Cat, Red, and the name he came with from the SPCA: Helios, the sun titan who drives the sun up each morning in a horse-drawn chariot.
Catamus knew his name(s) and would swish his long, thick tail whenever we’d say “cat.” He didn’t love pets or snuggles, but he enjoyed being shoved onto the ground and smacked really hard. Jay would play him like a drum in time to whatever music we had on. When he’d stop, Catamus would yowl for more. He apparently had a brother named Spanky who got adopted first. Clearly “liking it rough” ran in the family.
Without Catamus, our apartment feels hollow and strange. I keep expecting to see him when I walk into a room, and imagining that I hear his toes clicking on the hardwood floor, his tail thumping on the rug, his claws scratching his post (or the couch, or the upholstered chair). He was a ray of sunshine in our lives. I’m so grateful to have gotten to bask in his presence these nine years.
A dear friend of mine wrote, and this has become my mantra, “It’s an honor to hurt so much. Because the grief is a measure of the love. And the love is a blessing. The love doesn’t go away.”
Indeed it does not.
Gluten-Free Olive Oil Cake
This is a cake fit for a king (or cat prince). It gets a light, springy texture from whipped egg whites, loads of moisture and fruity flavor from olive oil, and a meltingly tender texture from almond and tapioca flours. It’s gluten-free, grain-free, and dairy-free.
It’s plenty flavorful eaten plain, with a cup of tea or coffee. Or you can serve slices with any seasonal fruit: rhubarb compote or berries in the spring, plums or nectarines in the summer, fresh figs in the fall, or citrus supremes in the winter. It makes enough to share with a friend (animal or human) if you like.
If you whip one up this holiday weekend, say a good word for our dear Catamus. We miss him terribly.
Have you lost a beloved animal friend? If you feel inspired to share, please do below. It’s nice to connect around this kind of thing.
More favorite almond flour recipes:
- Gluten-Free Almond Flour Tart Crust
- Fluffy GF Almond Flour Pancakes
- Gluten-Free Meyer Lemon Almond Cake
- Chocolate Almond Olive Oil Cake
Gluten-Free Olive Oil Cake with Lemon & Almond FlourPrint Recipe / Pin Recipe
- 2 teaspoons room temperature coconut oil, for the pan
- ½ cup flavorful extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup + ¼ cup organic granulated sugar (divided use)
- finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
- ¼ cup strained fresh lemon juice
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 cups blanched almond flour
- ¼ cup tapioca flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 large egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Position a rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat to 325ºF. Rub the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan or cake pan with the coconut oil. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper, and rub the parchment with coconut oil as well. If using a springform pan, place on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, ½ cup sugar, lemon zest and juice, and egg yolks to combine. Place a mesh strainer over the top and sift in the almond and tapioca flours, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.
- Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or use a large bowl and electric egg beater). Whip on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer running, gradually add in the remaining ¼ cup sugar and continue to whip until the egg whites are shiny and hold firm peaks when you lift the whip out and hold it upside-down. Fold one-third of the whipped egg whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Bake the cake until deep golden on top, beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, and the top springs back when pressed lightly, 40-45 minutes. If the cake is darkening too quickly, tent the top with a piece of aluminum foil. Let the cake cool slightly, then loosen the edges with a small, offset spatula and release the sides if using a springform pan. Invert the cake onto the wire rack and peel away the parchment, then turn right side up and let cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar if using, cut into wedges, and serve with cream and berries if you like. The cake keeps well airtight at cool room temperature for 1 day or refrigerated for up to 4 days.