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Eric Akis: Flourless cake an almond spice delight with ice cream

This light-in-texture cake is rich in almonds and made without wheat flour and accented with three types of ground spice — cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
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Dense, moist almond spice cake is sweetly served with ice cream and berries. ERIC AKIS

If you need a summer dessert that’s wheat-flour free, making something rich in almonds and spice is a sweet option, what I did in today’s recipe for almond spice cake.

To prepare it, you start by making a very thick mixture of ground almonds, egg yolks, granulated sugar, baking powder and ground spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Sweetened beat egg whites, meringue, is then mixed and folded into the almond mixture, lightening it and creating a batter for the cake.

The batter is then spooned into a spring-form cake pan, topped with sliced, skin-on almonds and baked. When done you end up with a light-in-texture, not overly tall cake that becomes a splendid dessert when you dust it with icing sugar, and then cut, plate and top wedges of it with locally made ice cream and fresh summer berries, as I did.

You can bake, cool and wrap up the cake a day before cutting and serving it.

The ground almonds, also called almond meal, and sliced, skin-on almonds, needed for the cake are sold in bags, boxes or in bulk at most grocery stores and at bulk food stores.

With regard to locally made ice cream, establishments in great Victoria selling it include 49 Below Craft Ice Cream, Parachute Ice Cream and Cold Comfort Ice Cream. Vanilla or berry-flavoured ice cream are types that will work well with the cake, but you can choose any other type if you think it will work well with the tastes of almonds and spice.

Almond Spice Cake

A light in texture, wheat-flour free, almond-rich cake, accented with three types of ground spice — cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

Preparation time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 23 to 25 minutes

Makes: six to eight servings

• vegetable oil spray

4 large eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar (divided)

2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (see Note)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups ground almonds (also called almond meal; about 150 grams)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup sliced, skin-on almonds

• icing sugar, for dusting

• vanilla, berry-flavoured or other ice cream, to taste

• fresh, whole or sliced berries, such as blackberries, blueberries, tayberries, raspberries and/or sliced strawberries, or a mix of berries, to taste

Cut a nine-inch circle of parchment paper and set it in the bottom of a nine-inch spring-form cake pan. Spray and lightly coat the paper and the sides of the pan with oil spray. Set the pan aside for now.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Separate each egg, setting the yolks in a medium bowl, and the whites in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whipping attachment (see Eric options).

Mix 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, lemon zest and vanilla into the egg yolks. In another bowl, combine the ground almonds, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt. Mix the almond mixture into the egg yolk mixture until very well combined (the resulting mixture will be very thick).

Whip the egg whites on low speed until frothy. Increase the speed to medium and gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar to the egg whites, whipping constantly, until all is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then whip a few seconds more, until the egg whites form soft to medium peaks.

With a heavy spoon, thoroughly mix a quarter of the beaten egg whites into the almond mixture until it’s smooth and lightened. Now, with a spatula, in three stages, gently fold the remaining beaten egg whites into almond mixture, ensuring the whites are well combined with the almond mixture before adding the next addition of them.

Spoon and gently spread the batter into the cake pan. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the sliced almonds. Bake cake in the middle of the oven 23 to 25 minutes, or until it springs back when gently touched in the centre.

Set cake on a baking rack and cool 30 minutes. Now run a thin knife around edges of the pan to release the cake from it. Remove the cake pan’s outer ring. Let cake cool to room temperature. Wrap cake and leave at room temperature until ready to serve.

To serve, transfer cake to a cake plate and dust the top of it with icing sugar. Cut the cake into wedges and set them on serving plates. Top each wedge of cake with a scoop of ice cream and some berries, and serve.

Note: One medium to large lemon should yield the zest needed here.

Eric’s options: If you don’t have a stand mixer, you could you use a medium to large mixing bowl and an electric hand mixer to beat the egg whites.

eakis@timescolonist.com

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.