Using pantry ingredients, this Gluten-Free Orange Almond Cake is a surprisingly easy yet tasty cake to create. The moist, fragrant sponge is topped with tangy Greek yogurt and a sticky sweet orange and honey syrup offset with crunchy pistachios. With zero flour, this simple recipe will win you over.
This is another addition to my small batch baking series that is proving popular during this pandemic. There are many people in the world, old and young, who are living by themselves. Or there are only a few members in the household and standard recipe sizes just don't suit. They aren’t able to share their bakes with family, friends, work colleagues like they used to. So a batch of 12 cupcakes, 24 cookies, or a 2 tiered cake is just TOO large.
And so this, and my other small-batch recipes, such as my Raspberry-White Chocolate Pop-Tarts, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins and Earl Grey Lemon Cupcakes are designed to be low in quantity size. However, the best bit is that they can easily be doubled for those that need to make larger servings.
This cake originally combined flour, semolina, and almond meal in the cake batter but I really wanted to develop the recipe to be gluten-free. I literally just subbed the flour and semolina for almond meal and it worked so well.
I’ve seen other flourless orange cakes that boil whole oranges and then blend them to go into the batter, such as Rick Stein's version. However, I wanted this Gluten-Free Orange Cake to be quick and easy and so I decided to sub the boiled orange pulp for zest, orange blossom water, and honey. Both executions leave you with an incredibly moist cake-like nothing you’ve tasted before. I can’t wait for you to try it!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Gluten-free. As the title states, this recip has ZERO flour in it. All you gluten-free bakers rejoice!
- Super tender crumb. As this is made from ground almonds, the cake crumb is as moist and light as they come. It's incredible!
- Simple to make. The steps to make this Orange Almond Cake as incredibly easy and done in a flash.
- Improves over night. As with most bakes that are almond based, the moisture and then flavour of the cake improves over night making this a brilliant make-ahead cake!
You'll probably find that you have most of the ingredients in your pantry. Especially if you’ve followed my Guides on What Ingredients To Stock In Your Baking Pantry and How To Organise Your Baking Pantry. The one exception is the Orange Blossom Water. It's my secret weapon in baking- it can transform any plain baked goods into a thing of beauty through its lightly fragranced, orange floral taste.
Orange almond cake
- Butter - Unsalted butter is best here - ensure it's room temperature so that it can be creamed suffiently with the sugar.
- Sugar - I've specified granulated but caster sugar will work too.
- Eggs - Helps bind the ingredients together, create structure and stability to the batter but also create moisture. Use large eggs and make sure it's room temperature.
- Almond meal - Also known as ground almonds or almond flour, made solely from almonds, this is a substitute for regular flour.
- Baking powder - Acts as a standard leavening agent within the cake to help with that light sponge feel.
- Flavourings: Honey, orange blossom water and orange zest - The flavours within the cake batter. All subtle on their own but when combined they come together with the almonds to create a gently flavoured moist cake.
- Topping - Slather in thick Greek yogurt and sprinkle with toasted pistachios for crunch.
Orange honey syrup
- Orange juice - The zest has gone into the cake so time to use the juice for our syrup. Using juice rather than water just boosts the orange flavour to the max.
- Honey & sugar - The honey and sugar caramelise and thicken to create the syrup.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
This flourless orange almond cake is an incredibly simple cake to make, and that’s why I love it. It's quick and easy to put together and whilst baking you can make the orange honey syrup. Within an hour you'll be sitting down to a slice of this with a cup of tea. What could be more perfect?
Orange Almond Cake
1. Cream butter & sugar. Preheat your oven and then it's time to cream your butter and sugar together until pale, fluffy, and light. I use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment as it's easily accessible, but hand-held electric beaters will work just as well. (Image 1)
2. Add the eggs. Scrape down your bowl often to ensure all the batter gets mixed together and then add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until mixed. Don't forget to scrape the bowl again! (Image 2)
3. Add in the flavourings. The ingredients that give this cake a flavour boost get added in here. The honey, orange zest, and orange blossom water are added - the smell is intoxicating at this point!!
4. Add the dry ingredients: The almond meal and baking powder are added and folded in with a rubber spatular. The batter is fairly thick due to the weight of the ground nuts. It's meant to be like this, so don't worry!
5: Bake! Pour batter into the prepared 6-inch tin and bake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. The outside will darken more than a normal sponge cake - this is because of the honey in the batter and the fact that it will caramelize during baking. (Image 5 & 6) Tent with foil three quarters of the way through the bake to slow the browning down.
Orange honey syrup
1. Make the syrup. Whilst the syrup is baking, add the juice, honey, and sugar into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. You'll leave it to boil for about five minutes and during this time you'll see the sugar dissolve and the syrup thicken. Take it off the heat and pour it into your serving jug to cool. If it still looks runny, as it cools it'll thicken up. You can serve it warm or completely cooled.
Now serve! Once the cake is totally cooled to room temperature, then spoon the Greek Yogurt over the top and smooth it to the sides. Drizzle some of the delicious Orange Honey Syrup over the top and sprinkle with pistachios.
Alternatively, if you'd like to eat the cake warm, slice individual portions and plate each slice of cake separately. Dollop Greek yogurt onto the plate next to the cake and then drizzle each serving with syrup and sprinkle with nuts. This ensures the yogurt won't melt away on top of the warm sponge!
The crumb on this cake is like no other. Because of the almond meal, it has a slightly larger crumb in texture yet the moisture and softness of the cake are unbelievable. Plus the honey addition creates this slightly caramelized out layer on the edges of the cake. My favourite bit if truth be told!
Here are a few substitutions that you can make:
- Granulated sugar: Sub for caster sugar or golden sugar or golden caster sugar
- Honey: Sub for maple syrup
- Almond Meal: Sub for hazelnut meal
- Orange: Sub for mandarines
- Orange Blossom Water: This ingredient is totally optional, sub for 1 teaspoon orange extract if you have it or vanilla bean extract
- Light brown sugar: Sub for white or brown sugar
- Pistachios: Sub for flaked or chopped almonds
- Greek yogurt: Sub for whipped coconut cream or whipped double cream
If you make any of these substitutions then the overall taste will be altered. The cake will still taste great!
- Creaming butter and sugar. This process can take up to five minutes for the butter to become aerated and sugar to dissolve - you'll visually be able to see a change in colour.
- Scrape down your bowl. An underused and underrated technique! When making such a simple cake, ensuring that all the batter is mixed equally is super important.
- Can be made in advance. The cake flavour develops overnight making this the perfect recipe to prepare in advance. Make the cake and wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temp until ready to serve.
Frequently asked questions
The reason this cake browns quicker than your standard sponge is due to the honey in the batter. It caramelizes where the heat hits the batter, on the top, and particularly on the sides next to the baking pan. If you are concerned then halfway through the bake time, tent the baking pan with aluminum foil and continue baking.
If you would prefer to leave out the honey, then by all means do. Just replace the quantity with greek yogurt, sour cream, creme fraiche, or whole milk.
Did you measure the ingredients with digital scales? In particular the ground almonds/almond flour? If you used cups then there is a possibility that you have packed in more ground almonds into the cup than is needed. Digital scales are far more accurate.
Also, everyone's oven temperature can differ. For the most accurate temp, use an oven thermometer to give you a true temperature reading. You could well have overbaked the cake without even realizing it.
I recommend freezing the cake undecorated. The greek yogurt will not thaw nicely. The cake itself will freeze beautifully and you can thaw at room temperature. It's worth topping your cake with Greek yogurt, orange honey syrup, and pistachios from fresh.
The most common cause of a sunk cake is underbaking. Being a cake made from ground almonds, there is a higher moisture content in the sponge structure than a regular cake. This means that the cake takes longer to bake than you would expect. If it has sunk, it means that the internal sponge hasn't had time to 'set' in place. It has risen and puffed up due to the heat and if not given a chance to bake sufficiently, when removed from the oven, the cake will deflate leaving a gummy center.
Test that the cake is done by inserting a toothpick into the center and when removed, a few moist crumbs should remain, but no batter should be visible.
How to store and freeze
To Store: The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days providing that it doesn’t have the yoghurt on the top. Store in the fridge for up to five days if the yogurt is on the cake.
To freeze: Store undecorated cake in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature. Once defrosted, decorate with yogurt, orange honey syrup, and nuts. It isn't recommended to freeze the cake with the yogurt on top.
More cake recipes, that you may like
- Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Blackberries
- Strawberry Lemonade Cake
- Dark Chocolate Torte
- Italian Yogurt Plum Cake
If you tried this Gluten-free Orange Almond Cake or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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This post was originally published in April 2020 but has been updated with new content.
Gluten Free Orange Almond Cake Recipe
- 130 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 80 g sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 180 g almond meal, almond flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon orange blossom water, optional
- 30 g runny honey
- 1 orange, zest
Orange honey syrup
- 60 ml orange, juice
- 15 g runny honey
- 30 g light brown sugar
- 80 g greek yogurt
- 25 g pistachios, chopped
- Cream butter & sugar. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line the base and sides of a 15cm (6-inch) cake tin with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Add the eggs. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Make sure to scrape down the base and sides of the bowl before and after beating the eggs in.
- Add in the flavourings. Add in the honey, orange zest and orange blossom water and mix until combined.
- Add the dry ingredients: Add the almond meal and baking powder and mix with a rubber spatula until you can still see a few flour streaks. Note, the batter is fairly thick which is what it's supposed to look like.
- Bake! Spoon the mixture into the cake pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre. If the cake browns too quickly then tent with aluminium foil. Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
- Make the orange honey syrup. Whilst the cake is cooling, add the orange juice, honey and light brown sugar into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil gently for 5 minutes and then set aside to cool. The syrup will thicken as it cools.
- To serve. Once the cake has cooled completely, spoon the Greek yoghurt onto the top of the cake and smooth it with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle the pistachios over the top and drizzle with orange honey syrup. Slice and serve immediately.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
This recipe looks amazing! And the photos are gorgeous!
Thanks so much Mihaela, I really enjoyed shooting it. I hope that you get a chance to make it xx
I made this today and it was lovely - a perfect summer time cake! It looks so pretty as well.
Thanks so much for the feedback on my cake- I thoroughly appreciate it. Its the perfect summertime cake!
I made this cake today and it was fabulous! I baked it for a bit longer than the recipe said for but that just may have been the difference in cooking temperatures with my oven. Fantastic flavor and the yogurt balances the sweetness to make it a perfect cake. Thank you for the recipe, I will definitely make it again soon.
Hi Piper, Thank you so much for your comment. It’s made my day. Thank you!! So happy to hear it’s become part of your baking repertoire x
I’ve made this cake 3 times and each time it has been utterly delicious. The only issue I have is the cake browning too fast. It browns before it is cooked through. What component of the cake is causing this and how can I prevent it? I will cook at 160°C next time. Sometimes I also add a tablespoon of orange juice, should I stop doing this? I have tried covering it with tin foil, but still the sides of the cake end up darkening/ burning.
HI Nina, I’m glad you enjoy this cake. The orange juice added into the batter should not be a problem. What is browning the cake is the honey in the batter - the natural sweetness in the cake increase the mallard reaction which is basically the browning process. That is why the outside of a cake with honey will generally be more browned than one with out. Also your oven might be running slightly hotter than 180 - it’s a good idea to try baking it at 160C. Alternatively try baking it in a 7inch pan- you’ll need to reduce the cooking time and the cake will be thinner - but it should help you with the outside browning too quickly. Or you can replace the honey with maple syrup and see if that helps? Let me know how you go,
Thanks Emma, I’ll give this a try!
Made this cake on the weekend Emma, it was so delicious! Love the idea of using Greek yogurt to top as well, such a healthy, taste-good alternative to icing! The Mrs & I are big big fans! I promise to get around to the strawberry cupcakes too haha 🙂
Amazing! Its such a crazy delicious cake and I am SO happy that you love it. (And I agree- the orange caramel is extra isn’t it!
P.s. the orange caramel syrup is TO DIE FOR
Can i replace the eggs with chia eggs ?
Hi Shweta, unfortunately, I haven't tested this recipe using chia eggs so I can't comment. Let me know how you go if you do happen to try it.
Hey Emma, I made this Gluten free orange cake yesterday for my in-laws who are gluten intolerant, and wow- it was incredible. I left them spoon their individual slice with yogurt and drizzle it in the syrup (which by the way is genius!!). The 6 inch size was perfect too. Thanks so much for an awesome recipe, Elena
Hi Elena, Thanks so much for your message- it made me so happy. I dodn't often make gluten free recipes (there are other expert bakers who specialise in that field) but this cake is so universally known and loved with such an incredible taste and texture, that I mkae it all the time for my own family. Happy baking for your family! xx
Having been a lover of almond flour baked goods, I was excited to see you publish this recipe. I made quick batch and oh my!!! Delicious. The orange sauce on top is next level! This recipe is a keeper. Will make it again for sure. Thanks for yet another amazing recipe.
This is amazing to hear as I know that you are the queen of almond flour recipes so this means A LOT coming from you. Thank you so much xx
Very tasty! Favourite not only to the ones on GF diet!
Hi Mel, Thanks so much for your response on my flourless orange cake- you are right, this kind of cake is for EVERYONE, not just gluten-free 'eaters'!!! The texture and taste is like no other! Glad that you loved it. x
Absolutely delicious and you don’t miss the lack of flour. The almonds add so much moisture and texture topped with the Greek yogurt it’s really light. Highly recommend baking it super easy store cupboard bake
Hi Jas, Isn't it the moistest cake ever! Thank you so much for making and loving this GF Orange Almond Cake. You are a star! Emma
it's delicious 🥰🥰🥰
Thanks So much for letting me know. x