Luscious Lemon Almond Flour Cake

This luscious lemon almond flour cake is a moist, light and not too sweet, high protein Mediterranean cake, keeping lemon lovers smiling with every bite.

Lemon, Almond Flour and Olive Oil Cake

Happy New Year!

We keep the tree and decorations up until at least January 7th, but then it is time . . .

Slowly, doing a little bit every day, I put away all the treasured symbols of Christmas for our family – the wooden nativity scene I brought back from the Philippines when I spent Christmas there years ago, the delicate snowflake mobile my mother crocheted, the twinkle-light garland twined around the banister and the many nutcrackers we’ve collected over the years. I take down the strings full of cards sent by friends and family. I carefully wrap up each of the blown glass ornaments and birds of all colours that decorate our tree. And lastly we’ll drag the tree out to the firepit (hidden under two feet of snow) to burn in springtime. I’ll have to vacuum up the drifts of dry needles it always trails out the door.

The rooms will look empty after the festive baubles are all gone, but somehow refreshingly new again, too. That emptiness feels clean and ready for a new year of happenings and life. Bring it on.

Here’s to 2013!

I didn’t make any specific New Year’s Resolutions this year – just to connect more . . . connect more with all the important people in my life: more phone calls to faraway friends, more time with my husband, more one-on-one time with my children, more conversations with my sisters, more reconnecting with old friends, more talks with my mom, more lunches with nearby friends, and more time with me. Time to do the things that are important to me . . . or time to do nothing at all.

Aren’t we lucky that each day is a new beginning – we don’t really have to wait for a new year to start all over again. But the hanging up of a new calendar in a new year means more, somehow, than just a new day’s beginning. It’s a tangible reminder, symbolic and more in-our-face. You see that clean new page and it feels like a bigger chance to start over again. So we make our resolutions. And even if we don’t successfully stick to each one, it’s the awareness of change and the moving in a new direction that counts. Even reaching a small portion of our goals brings us farther ahead and makes us a better person than we were last year.

So in the spirit of newness and light, here’s a recipe for a fresh and lovely lemon and olive oil cake.

This cake is moist and light and not too sweet. If you are lemon lover, you will be smiling with every bite. The glaze on top adds another lemon kick that makes a zippy counterpart to the intriguing herbal flavours of olive oil in a cake. This type of cake originates in the Mediterranean, and the three main ingredients – lemons, almonds, and olive oil – are all products grown in that warm sea-and-sun-kissed climate. The almond flour and eggs make the cake high in protein, and its lower sweetness makes it a great breakfast indulgence with a cup of coffee or tea. A slice with your afternoon tea is not so bad either.

And of course it’s also wonderful as a simple and sumptuous dessert.

So start off your year with a little Mediterranean sunshine.

Meyer lemons in a blue bowl

Kitchen Frau Notes: This cake is great with regular lemons, but right now the Meyer lemons are in season and I can’t resist using their sweetness and juiciness. They are thought to be a cross between mandarin oranges and lemons, so their skins range from deep yellow to almost orange and the fruits are sweeter, milder and juicier than regular lemons. The cake isn’t quite as intensely lemony as when I make it with regular lemons, but that is more than compensated with the bright citrus flavour of the Meyer lemons.

I think the powdered psyllium husk helps hold the cake together better and makes a nicer texture, but you can omit it if you don’t have it and still have great results.

If you use regular all-purpose flour instead of the millet flour you can also skip the psyllium husk. (Your cake will no longer be gluten-free, though.)

You can use regular olive oil for this recipe, but if you have a nice, fruity, extra virgin olive oil (the kind that has a grassy-green or deep-golden tinge) – use it to add a complex, delicious ‘hmm, what is that interesting flavour?’ depth to your cake.

And do add the glaze. It’s what makes the cake.

 Lemon, Almond Flour and Olive Oil Cake

Lemon Almond Flour Cake

  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup (120ml) natural cane sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup (60ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • ½ cup (120ml) olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (110gms) almond flour
  • ½ cup (75gms) millet flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon powdered psyllium husk (optional)
for the glaze
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons rum (or water)
  • powdered sugar to dust top of cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Trace the bottom of an 8-inch (20cm) springform pan onto parchment paper and cut out the circle. Trim it so it lays flat in the pan. Lift it out of the pan, grease the pan, then lay the paper circle back into the springform pan and grease it, too.

With the whisk attachment of an electric mixer (or a hand whisk and lots of elbow grease), beat the eggs and sugar until they are light and fluffy and look like pale yellow softly whipped cream.

whipped eggs and sugar for lemon, almond flour and olive oil cake

 Add the  lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and vanilla extract. Beat well.

grating in the lemon peel

Squished out Meyer lemons

Add the almond flour, millet flour, baking powder, baking soda and psyllium husk powder (if using).

Mix just until combined and pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top no longer feels jiggly to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with crumbs attached. The cake will be quite dark.

In a small saucepan, heat the lemon juice, honey and rum (or water) until the honey is just melted and the mixture is hot. One spoonful at a time, so you can control where the glaze goes, drizzle the glaze over the top of the hot cake. Drizzle mostly around the outside edge of the cake so it gets soaked. The cake will have dropped slightly in the middle and most of the glaze will run there anyway, so make sure to douse the edges well so the cake is evenly moistened.

Lemon, Almond Flour and Olive Oil Cake

When the cake is cool, remove the outside of the springform pan. Just before serving, sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar shaken through a small sieve or tea strainer. 

last bite of lemon, almond flour and olive oil cake

 Guten Appetit!


You might also like:

Apple Buckwheat Crumble Cake

The Un-Cheesecake, with Coconut Crust and Berry Sauce

Strawberry Meringue Pie

Ice Cream Cake


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33 Responses to Luscious Lemon Almond Flour Cake

  1. Veggie Bob says:

    This cake looks incredible! Thanks so much for posting. In addition to gluten intolerance, I have sugar intolerance, as well. How do you think honey would work in the cake itself in place of the cane sugar? Love your site and all your sharing!

    • Margaret says:

      Thanks so much for your kind comments – makes my day! I haven’t tried this cake with honey, but I do bake a lot with honey and find it always keeps my baking nice and moist. If I do replace sugar with honey, I usually use half as much honey as the sugar called for, but you probably already know that. So in this cake, since you’d only need about 1/4 cup sugar, you probably wouldn’t even need to adjust the liquid. Let me know how it goes for you. You’ve got my curiosity piqued – I’ll have to try it with honey, too, next time I make it. Happy baking!

  2. Zoe says:

    I’m wondering if I could use sorghum flour in here? I like how sorghum flour has an almost cornmeal type texture, which MIGHT be good in this recipe(?). Would you use it? Would you know how to use it in proportion with another gluten free flour to get a good, moist, but holding together result? Thanks!

    • Margaret says:

      Hi Zoe. Yes, I would definitely use it instead of the millet flour – I think the recipe would still need some almond flour, though you could probably cut it down a bit. I have been using both millet flour and sorghum flour more and more lately, and find that I really like both their properties. They have become two of my favourite flours. They are both mild and light-tasting. Sorghum is high in protein, and a little milder flavoured and the closest to wheat in taste, I think – but from what I’ve read about it, it’s best to combine it (and millet) with other flours. Try using 1/2 cup of the sorghum instead of the millet and it should work just fine. Let me know how it goes. The almond flour really helps make the cake moist, because of the natural oiliness of the nuts. I find the bit of psyllium husk really helps hold flours together, but in this cake you can omit it if you don’t have it, because of the amount of eggs and almond flour which keep it together quite well. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and happy baking!

      • Zoe says:

        Thank you! I hope to make this tomorrow. If I do, I will be sure to let you know how it comes out!

  3. Daphna krupp says:

    Yum!! I used Splenda because I don’t tolerate sugar well and it came out great, just a 15 minute shorter baking time. I also once experimented with different flours when I ran out of almond flour and a combo of almond flour, garbanzo flour, and oat bran flour worked (I guess it’s not gf then). Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Margaret says:

      How great to hear that it turned out well with a different sweetener and different flours. It goes to show how flexible cooking is and how each person can add their own creativity to a recipe! Thanks for visiting and I wish you a wonderful year ahead!

  4. Cheryl says:

    Delicious cake! Made it twice so far. I scaled back the recipe to 3/4 (had only 3 eggs) each time, baking it for 25 minutes in a mini-bundt pan the first time and for about 50 minutes in a rice cooker on the “Cake” setting the next. Thanks for the wonderful gluten-free, dairy- free recipe!

  5. christina says:

    What can I use instead of eggs? I have a gluten and egg allergy. Thank you!

    • Margaret says:

      Hi Christina, after reading your question I played around a bit and made an egg-free version that worked very well – we are going egg-free in our house, too, for a month because my husband is on an elimination diet to find out which foods he can tolerate. For the eggs, I substituted 1 cup of warm water mixed with 1/4 cup ground chia seeds, which I let gel for 5 minutes. I beat this with the sugar until the sugar granules dissolved (but the mixture didn’t fluff up like regular eggs). I also upped the baking soda to 1 teaspoon, and found I needed to bake the cake for 5 minutes longer. It turned out well and is just as tasty as the original, though it looks a little grainier because of the ground chia seeds. I imagine if I’d used white chia seeds it would be even less noticeable. Good luck and I hope this helps you! Happy baking!

  6. AILUY says:

    I have stumbled upon your site ‘almost’ accidentally and am very happy that I did. This recipe is haunting me and absolutely must make it. Just a few questions though, if you don’t mind.
    Can I substitute corn meal or whole wheat flour for the millet flour and milled flax seed for the powdered psyllium husk. Also, I have read in the earlier comments that honey can be substituted for the sugar.
    Sorry for a long list of substitutions, but that is all I have at the moment.

    Thank you

    • Margaret says:

      Welcome, and thanks for visiting! Whole wheat flour would definitely work instead of the millet flour, although I think corn meal might be too coarse and make the cake gritty in texture. The milled flax seed would also definitely work instead of psyllium husk – I have used it often in other cakes and it does a nice job of keeping them from getting crumbly when using alternate flours. If you can get the ground golden flax seeds, they are also less noticeable in cakes than the regular brown, but either would be fine. I hope you enjoy the cake as much as we do. When I make one it seems to be inhaled here like magic. Happy baking to you!

  7. Toby says:

    I am going to make this for my mother’s 94th birthday on Tuesday! She loves lemon, and this cake will be so perfect because she is mildly diabetic and this will work better than the usual. Olive oil and almond flour! I will use part honey and part agave. I may end up using a bit of whole wheat since I do not have the millet flour. I will see what I can find easily. Thank you very much for the wonderful recipe.

    • Margaret says:

      You are so welcome. What a wonderful gift to be celebrating this birthday with your mother! I hope she enjoys the cake as much as we do, and that you have many more times yet to enjoy cake with her.

  8. Cathie says:

    What can be substituted for the millet flour?

    • Margaret says:

      I have used sorghum flour instead and it worked really well. I haven’t tried brown rice flour, but I’m thinking it might work okay, too. Good luck, and let me know how it works!

  9. Nicole Palmer says:

    I have a sensitivity to almonds. Do you think a gluten free flour blend would work?

    • Margaret says:

      If you can tolerate another nut flour, like hazelnut flour, that would work the same (except not coconut flour, unless you adjust the liquid by quite a bit). But I think another gluten free flour blend should work fine, too, since the oil would combat the dryness and there are enough eggs to hold the gf flours together. Good luck with it – I’d be curious to know how it works for you, if you try it. Happy baking to you!

  10. Sandra Calie says:

    This cake sounded delicious.. For me it had too much of an olive oil flavor and was dry.

    • Margaret says:

      That’s too bad. I wonder what went wrong, it’s never been dry for me. I guess the olive oil flavour is a personal taste thing, and it can really depend on the olive oil you use, since different oils can vary widely in the strength of their flavour.

  11. Amanda says:

    Made this on a whim when I realized I had most of the ingredients on hand and just used a commercial GF flour in place of the millet flour. I can’t have honey so used maple syrup for the glaze instead. It was just lovely and exceeded my expectations – it was a hit with everyone who tried it. It kept really well for a few days but I also froze some portions and they turned out great when defrosted in the fridge and microwaved. Thanks for sharing such a nice recipe – will be making again for morning tea with my in laws and I’m sure they will love it.

    • Margaret says:

      How nice to read your lovely comment. Thank you. I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake as much as we do. Wishing you lots more happy times in the kitchen! 🙂

  12. Gwen says:

    Very eager to try this recipe for Thanksgiving. Dark rum or light rum for the glaze?–are 2 TBS subtle enough to “play nicely” with the lemon and honey? I’m planning to substitute 1/4 cup honey (local citrus and wildflower honey) for the 1/2 cup sugar–does that sound right to you? Thank you kindly.

    • Margaret says:

      Hi Gwen, This is our favourite cake. I use either white or light rum for the glaze. 2 Tbsp are very well behaved – they don’t take over and they blend nicely with the lemon and honey 🙂 That substitution of honey sounds spot on, since honey usually weighs about twice as much as sugar, and I like to do any substitutions by weight. The honey will help to keep the cake moist, too (if there’s any leftover, which in our house is not going to happen!) Happy Thanksgiving to you. Hope you have a wonderful feast and special family moments!

      • Gwen says:

        Margaret, thank you so much for your speedy reply, and for the kind wishes for a happy celebration tomorrow. I’m very excited to try this cake! Best wishes.

  13. Eileen says:

    Hello! I’m looking forward to trying this cake. Can you make this in a loaf pan instead of a cake pan?

    • Margaret says:

      I’ve never tried it in a loaf pan before. You might have to adjust the baking time so that it doesn’t sink in the middle. If you try it, I’d love to hear what adjustments you made and how it turns out. Happy baking!

  14. poodlepoo says:

    Hi there, these look so yum! Was wondering if they could be made into muffins?

    • Margaret says:

      I don’t see why not. They would just need a shorter bake time – I’d guess anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes. If you try this recipe as muffins, let me know how they turn out. Happy baking! 🙂

  15. Mimi says:

    I just made this cake and am so thrilled! I used honey instead of sugar. I didn’t have a Springform pan so used a round cake pan. The bake time was knocked down to around 20 min. But it turned out delicious! I am so happy you shared your recipe! Also, I omitted the alcohol. Thank you again!

    • Margaret says:

      So glad you like the recipe, Mimi! It’s one of our favourite cakes – pretty simple and basic, but lots of good flavour. Thanks for letting me know how your substitutions worked, and wishing you great fun in the kitchen!

    • Amalia says:

      I would love to try this recipe with honey. Could you please share the specifics of your substitution?

      Thank you!

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