No flour, no problem — think almonds
So many people are eschewing flour these days, whether for health reasons or simply to cut back on carbs. Gluten-free has taken over the grocery from pastry to pasta and frankly, I’m relieved that I don’t have to seek out flour substitutes. Still, I have cut back on white flour in breads and baked goods and don’t feel deprived. And more and more of my friends and acquaintances are doing the same.
Recently, a friend who has cut out flour for health reasons came to dinner for spaghetti and meatballs. She’s a terrific baker, so I know that must be a hardship, but she tells me she feels better for doing so. When I mentioned using a gluten-free pasta for our meal, she made a face, choosing instead to enjoy the meatballs sans pasta.
But I wanted to serve a flourless dessert that she would enjoy, and while a flourless chocolate cake was the first thing that came to mind, I decided to prepare this lemon almond torte instead. Served with whipped cream and a selection of jams, it was a nice choice to end the meal. I was also grateful that there were two pieces leftover to enjoy the next morning for breakfast.
Almond flour is easy to find. I get mine, called Just Almond Meal, at Trader Joe’s, and it’s more affordable than the name brands. Keep it in the freezer to make sure it stays fresh. Alternatively, you can make your own almond flour with blanched slivered almonds in the food processor.
You can also substitute oranges for the lemons, which is my plan for next time, which I hope is very soon.
Lemon Almond Torte
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
4 eggs, room temperature, separated (see note)
2 tablespoons lemon zest, packed
½ cup sugar, divided
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 ½ cups finely ground almond flour (see note)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar
Pinch of salt
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
Note: Eggs are easier to separate when cold. Do this first and let eggs come to room temperature.
Note: Ground almonds are available at Trader Joe’s and there’s a Bob’s Red Mill brand of ground almond flour available in the health aisle of most supermarkets. You can also make your own by grinding blanched, slivered almonds in a food processor until finely ground.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a round of parchment paper on the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, and grease it and the sides of the pan with butter or cooking spray.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the egg yolks, lemon zest and ¼ cup sugar until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the ground cardamom, almond flour and baking powder. Mix the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture until smooth.
In an electric mixer with a very clean bowl and clean whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, starting on low speed and gradually increasing the speed. When bubbles start to form, add the teaspoon of vinegar and a pinch of salt (both the vinegar and the salt will help the beaten egg whites maintain better structure, as will the sugar in the next step). As the egg whites begin to increase in volume, sprinkle in the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, a little at a time, as you continue to beat the egg whites. Beat until soft peaks form.
Fold the beaten egg whites into the almond mixture a large scoopful at a time. The batter will be stiff at first with the first third of the egg whites, but as you add more, you'll be able to gently fold in the whites in such a way as to create a light batter.
Gently scoop the batter into the prepared springform pan and place in oven. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake, helping it to separate from the side of the pan. Release the springform pan sides, and gently move the cake (on parchment) to a cake serving plate. Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar before serving. Serves 8.
Per serving: 212 calories; 13 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat; 55 percent calories from fat); 18 g carbohydrates; 14 g sugar; 106 mg cholesterol; 106 mg sodium; 8 g protein; 2 g fiber.