Almond Flour Lemon Cake – This light, fluffy lemon cake is perfect with fresh berries and whipped coconut cream. It’s gluten free, grain free, dairy free, paleo perfection!
I *may* or may not have THREE lemon cake recipes on my blog at this very moment.
I regret nothing.
A bright, sunny lemon cake is exactly what spring and summer call for. You KNOW I love a good, dense flourless chocolate cake, or a rich chocolate tart, or a mind-blowing brownie any time. I’m a chocolate lover forever. But there is nothing like the light, citrusy goodness of a lemon cake. They’re sweet and tangy and feel so light and fresh.
I love that this one doesn’t weigh you down. It’s the perfect blend of soft and fluffy while still being substantial enough to hold up to whipped coconut cream and berries. Michael was just one bite in before announcing “I’m pretty sure I want this for my birthday.”
I don’t blame him. This almond flour lemon cake is perfection.
Plus, this one is topped with whipped coconut cream and loads of fresh berries, which launches it up to the next level. I adapted this from a Simply Recipes recipe that was the perfect starting point, then made a few changes along the way. Here are a few of the keys to success:
For one thing, you separate the egg whites and yolks. Whipping your egg whites is totally responsible for the “fluff” factor in a cake that could otherwise be quite dense. It MAKES the texture and is definitely worth doing well. I’ve got lots of tips below, so don’t fret if you’ve never done it before.
Second, the almond flour. I love that magically this cake is gluten free, dairy free AND grain free. Almond flour has a natural sweetness to it and gives such a lovely texture and flavor to the cake. I also love knowing that it’s not full of empty calories. (Does that mean it’s a health food!? Let’s say yes, shall we? 😉 )
Thirdly, brushing the fresh-from-the-oven cake with a lemon-honey glaze adds and extra lemony layer to this cake and does something magical to the surface. It stays fairly glossy and sort of caramelizes the edges of the cake. Then, the lemon and honey soaks down ever so slightly into the cake, which keeps it from going dry (though it’s certainly not soggy!).
With a few simple techniques, and a lineup of really simple, yet quality ingredients, this almond flour lemon cake is worthy of an Easter brunch, birthday party, summer cookout, or Sunday afternoon. It’s definitely on our short list of favorite desserts!
Tips for this Almond Flour Lemon Cake
Watch Me Whip-Whip. Whipping the egg whites is KEY here to creating the structure you’re looking for in the cake. The the original recipe, Elise used vinegar and sugar to help stabilize her egg whites. Since I’m using honey instead of sugar in my version, I used cream of tartar. It’s gluten free, dairy free, grain free, etc. and only contains tartaric acid. It’s excellent for adding stabilization to egg whites, and many paleo bakers use it in tandem with baking soda as a substitute for baking powder. I think it’s worth keeping on hand, if only for this recipe.
Let’s talk flour. It wouldn’t be almond flour lemon cake without almond flour! I use blanched almond flour for this recipe, which is a finely ground almond flour made from almonds with their skins removed. This is visually and texturally important, so please don’t try to substitute almond meal (which keeps skins on and is coarser). Different brands vary a bit, but I look for “finely ground, blanched almond flour.” I’ve had good luck with Honeyville, Blue Diamond, Hughson Nut, Bob’s Red Mill, and Kirkland brand, all of which I’ve been able to find at Costco at different times, where it’s 3 pounds for $10-12 instead of 1 pound at the grocery store for $8-9. Use what you like, and what you can find!
A tip for coconut whipped cream. If you’re not strictly paleo, I highly recommend buying SoDelicious CocoWhip (I get it at Sprouts or Natural Grocers). It’s basically coconut milk Cool Whip. It’s more stable than anything I’ve made myself, but does have added sweetener. I think it’s so lovely with the subtly-sweet cake. If you can’t find it or don’t want to use it, I recommend using this method or this method for making your own. Follow the directions to the letter, and keep the whipped cream in the fridge until the last possible moment before serving. (And, obviously, if dairy doesn’t hate you, you can totally go with classic dairy-rific whipped cream!)
Not into whipped cream? Try this! Two words: Raspberry Sauce. It makes everything better, from cake to your morning oatmeal. My favorite recipe (seen here) is about as easy as can be: frozen or fresh raspberries + lemon juice + honey. Puree, strain, and serve. Bam.
Craving More Yummy Desserts? Try…
- No Bake Chocolate Berry Tart (Vegan & Gluten Free)
- Triple Berry Crumble Pie (Vegan & GF)
- The PERFECT Gluten Free Brownies (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo)
- Peach Berry Crisp (Gluten Free, Vegan, Paleo-Friendly)
A gorgeous, bright lemon cake that’s perfect for any occasion! Don’t skip the whipped coconut cream and fresh berries! (Adapted from Simply Recipes)
For the Cake:
- 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- pinch salt
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground blanched almond flour
- 1 tsp baking powder*
For the Lemon-Honey Glaze:
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
To Top (Optional):
- Coconut whipped cream
- Fresh Berries
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment and spray with nonstick spray.
- Separate egg yolks and whites and place in two separate, VERY clean metal or glass bowls. (Egg whites will not whip if there is any grease in your bowl and they need the friction of metal or glass to whip well).
- To the yolks mixture, add honey, lemon zest, and vanilla. Stir well until smooth. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together almond flour and baking powder. Stir into yolks mixture. (Mixture will be quite thick).
- Using a hand mixer (or a whisk and a lot of elbow grease!), whip egg whites on medium speed until just frothy. Pause and add a pinch of salt and the cream of tartar.
- Continue to whip, now on high speed, until they reach the soft peaks stage. There should be no more liquid egg whites on the bottom of the bowl, and when the beaters are lifted out of the egg whites, the peaks should flop over slightly (instead of standing straight up).
- Working in 3-4 batches, gently fold the whipped egg whites into the cake batter. At first, this will seem like it might not work. Just keep going, gently using a spatula to fold the mixture together (don’t stir quickly or you’ll deflate the batter). Repeat with remaining whipped egg whites until all are incorporated into the batter. Batter will be lighter in color and very fluffy.
- Pour batter into your prepared pan and gently shake to even out the surface.
- Bake at 325 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
WHILE THE CAKE IS BAKING, make your lemon-honey glaze —
- In a small bowl or saucepan, whisk together honey and lemon juice until very smooth and well blended.
- When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Remove the springform, and while the cake still quite warm, brush with the lemon-honey glaze.
- Allow cake to completely cool before slicing, or topping with any garnishes–I prefer whipped coconut cream and fresh berries.
*If you are strictly paleo, you can substitute 2/3 tsp cream of tartar and 1/3 tsp baking soda for the 1 tsp of baking powder.
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