I have been itching to bake another honey cake before the winter is over. I associate wintertime baked goods with honey and spice, so regardless of whether that makes any sense or not, I thought of another baking mission for myself. My mission this time was to find a gluten-free honey cake to take to my mom’s house. At this point, when searching for gluten-free options, I’m only going for almond flour, a.k.a. ground almonds, since that fits best when it comes to traditional baking. I’m sure an almond honey cake is a centuries’ old phenomenon, but I actually was not able to come across a centuries’ old recipe with that combination. Before sugar became a common sweetener, honey was king, so an old recipe shouldn’t be too hard to find, right? But so far, I’ve come up empty. I thumbed through some recipes from the copies of Early American cookbooks that I’ve accumulated and was surprised to see that I was not able to find one recipe that uses honey as the sweetener. It’s always “loaf sugar.” No one kept bee hives back then? It’s something I’ll need to research further. Meanwhile, I have my modern almond honey cake to worry about.
I pulled out my bag of almond flour. Once a novelty is now a typical item that is always on the shelf at my local grocery store. But Costco has nice, big bags of them, so that’s where I got mine this time.
I first toasted the almond flour in a pan over medium heat, stirring pretty often so it didn’t burn.
It toasted pretty quickly and smelled rather nice and nutty (ha, ha!).
I removed the pan from the heat and transferred the toasted almond flour to a bowl to cool. I added some spices, salt, and baking soda.
I whipped up some egg whites to soft peaks. I probably should have done that after preparing the rest of the batter so that they wouldn’t sit around for too long and deflate, but I didn’t feel like transferring the batter to another bowl, and washing the mixer bowl, whipping the egg whites, and then washing the bowl again. Basically, I took a risky short cut to avoid washing extra dishes!
I still used up an extra bowl because after I was done whipping the egg whites, I had to transfer them to a separate bowl where they impatiently waited. I had to work quickly before the egg whites turned back into egg white soup. So, I quickly beat the egg yolks.
I added some oil–olive oil, actually, so there would be some added flavor.
Then I added some honey–just half a cup.
I mixed in both vanilla and almond extracts, orange zest, and then slowly added in the almond flour/spice mixture.
Then came folding in the egg whites. I used a stainless steel, slotted spoon, a tip which I picked up from somewhere. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure it is supposed to work better than a regular spatula. I’ve had successes and failures using either implement.
I transferred the batter to a parchment-lined, greased springform cake pan. Into the oven it went.
Surprise, surprise, my folding skills worked. The cake actually rose a little bit, didn’t collapse after coming out of the oven, and wasn’t raw inside.
Then I thought about how to make it a little bit nicer looking and less dry and blah (despite all of the spices and zest). I brushed on top some coconut flavored rum (Amaretto would have been better, but I didn’t have any). But I didn’t think that would do enough to elevate the cake. After letting the rum sink in, I dusted on some confectioner’s sugar.
I then brushed some melted butter on top.
I should have taken the cake out of the pan before, so I did that and brushed some butter onto the sides. I also repeated the confectioner sugar/butter brushing step until the butter ran out. I eventually removed the bottom pan and the parchment paper. The cake was sturdy enough not to fall apart.
Then came time for the final decoration. I cut strips of parchment paper and placed them on top, and dusted on some confectioner’s sugar.
It created some added interest to the cake, so I was happy with that low tech step.
Here is the finished product.
The cake tasted pretty good!
This recipe is definitely a keeper for me, and an especially nice, uncomplicated dessert to serve your gluten-free/dairy-free friends and family. To dress it up, especially if serving during the spring time, add fresh berries on the side and a dollop of whipped cream (for those who don’t have dairy allergies, that is!).