Recently I became gluten sensitive and decided to refrain from any food containing substantial amount of flour, which eliminated a lot of my favorite things to eat: ramen, dumplings, crusty country breads, croissants, fruit tarts, chocolate cakes or pretty much all the desert items except the ones in custard family (crème brûlée, pot de crème, panna cotta, flan, etc.) Although I love all things custardy, I missed biting into rich cakes, and then I found some recipes for flourless almond and chocolate cakes. I decided to try some of these cakes. Principally all the flourless cakes work kind of like soufflés, in that the loftiness and the texture of the cake is achieved by beaten egg white and yolks. As a result, when the cakes come out of the oven, they are very expanded and lofty, but as they cool down, they shrink quite a bit. Still the texture remains light and rich. The almond cake recipe that I tried was adapted from the Spanish version that nuns at the Convento de la Purísma Concepcíon have been making for the last half a century. The sisters pipe flowers using royal icing (beaten egg white and powdered sugar), but I served the cake with a dollop of crème fraîche and mixed berries macerated in olive oil, rosemary and sugar, which really went well with the cake.
- 9 oz. almonds, skin on
- 1 each lemon and orange zest in strips
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar or flour for dusting
- 1 tbsp butter
- 6 eggs
- 9 oz. powdered sugar
- Blanch the almonds until the skin loosens, transfer them to a bowl of cold water and slip off the skins with paper towel or fingers. Dry them out on a clean towel but leave them still somewhat moist.
- Blanch the lemon and orange zest.
- Grind the almonds in a food processor, adding zest as you go until you achieve fine almond flour texture,but before the almonds turn into almond paste or butter.
- Preheat the oven to 450F degrees. Grease a 13″ cake pan with plenty of butter and dust it with granulated sugar (or flour).
- Separate the egg yolks from the whites and add the yolks and the powdered sugar to the ground almond mixture in the food processor. Run the food processor until the mixture is well combined into a cake batter texture.
- Whisk egg whites to dry peaks, fold them gently into the cake batter, adding 1/3 egg whites at a time. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Put the cake in the oven and immediately turn down the oven to 300F degrees. Bake for 30 minutes or until a tooth pick stuck into the center of the cake comes out clean. Turn onto a rack and cool. Serve with macerated berries and a dollop of crème fraîche.