I might possibly be the only food-loving traveller in Italy who actually lost weight while I was there. Not being able to eat gluten had its challenges in a country that has made an art of pasta, pizza and pastries. I made up for not being able to eat pasta by eating a lot of the local seafood dishes, grilled veggies and fabulous salads that are served ubiquitously. I made up for pizza by order a large gluten-free pizza from Panago when I got home – but the pastries were the ones that really got me. I stood longingly before many, many bakery windows staring and salivating at all the wonderful pastries.
Sicily specializes in marzipan – beautiful, fabulous, perfect, marzipan all artfully formed in the shape of fruit. I had my fill there. But there are numerous versions of almond cakes that equally whet my appetite but which I couldn’t enjoy. So I came home determined to find an almond cake I could eat. I have a few on my list to try but this is the first of them which I found on Simply Recipes. This cake is made with almond flour, eggs, and sugar. No butter, no wheat – easy to digest for those of us with monster stomach problems. Adding a touch of whipped cream to serve makes this cake almost perfect. It’s super light and not too rich. (not that that would never stop me from eating a cake:)
Go check out Simply Recipes. Lots of great recipes on there in general,
4 eggs, separated into 4 egg yolks and 4 egg whites, room temperature
2 Tbsp lemon zest, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup (100 g) white sugar, divided 1/4 cup (50 g) and 1/4 cup (50 g)
1 1/2 cup (170 g) finely ground almond flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder (make sure your baking powder is fresh!)
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 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 In a large bowl, beat together with a wooden spoon the egg yolks, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth.
3 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 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 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 Gently scoop the batter into a the prepared springform pan and place in the oven. Bake 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.