Gluten free cake is made in countries all over the world. Mostly we hear of flourless cake from Europe.
But they also make many kinds in Africa, South America, Asia, and North America, and many island nations.
Some traditional cakes are completely flourless and grain free. These include nut cakes, flourless chocolate cakes, and garbanzo bean cake.
Others, like the Bolognese Rice Cake, are made from grains of rice and almonds, and other cakes are made from “flour” ground from gluten free grains such as corn, rice, and quinoa.
Recipes for many of these fabulous cakes are now available in an eBook—Gluten Free Cakes From Around The World.
I've found many gluten free cakes that are completely flourless. Many are based on ground nuts such as almond flour. Hazelnut cakes, walnut cakes, and chestnut cakes are popular too.
I love almond recipes because almonds are high in protein, and have enough fat in them you don’t have to add butter to make the cake taste rich. There is an added bonus that the almonds help balance out the sugars so you end up with a cake that’s delicious without being a pile of empty calories.
Lemon Almond Cake from Spain, pictured here, is a moist, flavorful cake that’s super easy to make.
My reliable tasters–my husband and friends–were hankering for more.
Almond flour, or almond meal, is relatively easy to get, even in some grocery stores. If you can’t find it, you can easily purchase it online, or grind almonds in a food processor – this is how I grind other nuts and seeds for cake and cookie recipes.
Be careful though, unblanched almond flour acts differently in recipes than blanched, so use the recommended kind if you want it to turn out as intended. Unblanched flour will give a lighter result in general, but the skins tend to soak up moisture, and you may end up with something that’s drier than you’d like.
A nut-based gluten free cake may also be:
low carb and diabetic friendly if made with a sugar substitute.
made without nuts. And in some cases, there isn’t much difference in flavor. At least in the ones that aren't intentionally nut flavored, like lemon or orange or spice flavored cakes.
If you have a nut allergy, you'll probably be happy to hear that I substitute ground sunflower seeds or ground pepitas (pumpkin seeds) when baking cakes or cookies for a friend. She loves them and is truly grateful.
low fat. Many nut cakes are made without the addition of butter or oil, so they contain only the oil of the nuts and are relatively low fat.
If you want an easy recipe, try this wonderful basic almond cake recipe from Spain. It’s flavored with lemon, but can be made with other flavorings like orange, almond or vanilla, or with other nuts. I’ve also included a low carb variation.
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Even if you’re not a chocolate fan you’re probably familiar with flourless chocolate cakes. They’ve been so popular lately, I thought they were something new. But they’ve actually been around a while.
From Switzerland I found Chocolate Truffle Cake, from Italy Torta de Cioccolata, chocolate mousse cakes, chocolate macaroon cakes from France (le Delice), and several Mexican versions such as Dulce de Leche and a flourless chocolate soufflé cake.
I’m a relatively new chocolate fan, and can’t eat very much of it, but for someone who normally doesn’t do caffeine, a little sure goes a long way on road trips! (Pun intended...) I’m going to try to find a way to make bite size cakes of some of these – Chocolate truffle cookies maybe? I want to enjoy it, not wear it...stay tuned...
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Flourless cake can also be made with beans, such as the Mexican garbanzo bean cake made with lemon or with cinnamon and raisins.
Here’s an amazing flourless gluten free carrot cake recipe from Switzerland. Carrot cakes can be found in France as well, usually in combination with nuts. Historical accounts point out that during WWI, when no eggs were to be found, carrots provided a way to make moist eggless cakes, although I still haven’t found a recipe without eggs.
Many countries in West Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean rely on roots for their staple food, or did at one time, and have learned to bake cakes such as the cassava cake Enyucado de Coco from Colombia.
Another type of gluten free cake is potato-based. These can be made with potato flour, potato starch, or even cooked potatoes or sweet potatoes. They may be flavored with lemon or orange, or various other ingredients.
The Bolognese Rice Cake from Italy is a great example of a gluten free cake that uses grain that isn't ground into flour or meal.
Share your favorite gluten free cake!
Do you have any gluten free cake recipes that are traditional? Maybe an old family recipe?
A story about a great cake you discovered while traveling? Or perhaps a request?
Traditional Italian cakes may also be made with rice flour.
The traditional corn based cakes I've found are usually made using polenta, like the Italian Sand Cake, or corn meal, which is a less regular grind. (Cornmeal Raisin Cake from Martinique). I've even seen some gluten free cake recipes based on cornstarch or fresh corn, and will include them as soon as I remember where I saw them.
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