This gluten-free, easy-to-make almond flour lemon cake is moist, fluffy, and bursting with lemon flavor! Since we’re using extra virgin olive oil instead of butter, the cake batter can be whisked together by hand and comes together in 45 minutes.
If you’ve ever been hesitant about using almond flour in a cake recipe instead of all-purpose flour, I’m here to tell you there’s no need to fear it! Almond flour gives this lemon cake a wonderfully light and fluffy texture and a subtle nutty flavor that complements the lemon beautifully. And since we’re using olive oil instead of butter, the cake comes together quickly and stays moist!
Lemon olive oil cake is light enough for a warm-weather gathering, but substantial enough to also be cozy and comforting on a colder day.
Key Ingredients for Gluten-Free Lemon Cake
- Almond flour – I use Bob’s Red Mill Super-Fine Almond Flour, but there are plenty of other options out there (King Arthur Flour’s is great, too)
- Cane sugar – Organic raw cane sugar is minimally processed and can be used as a 1-to-1 substitute for granulated white sugar. But if you need to, you can substitute granulated sugar or coconut sugar (just note that coconut sugar will tint the color of the cake to more of a tan color a bit).
- Baking powder – Baking powder helps the cake rise and get nice and fluffy
- Salt – A little salt provides balance to the sweetness and tartness of the rest of the ingredients
- Ground ginger – Ginger is optional, but I adore the combination of lemon and ginger flavors and highly recommend it!
- Eggs – You’ll notice we’re using 6 whole eggs for this cake, and that’s because almond flour needs a little extra help to bind everything together. No need to separate the egg yolks and egg whites – we’re keeping things simple!
- Extra virgin olive oil – We’re using EVOO instead of butter, which makes whipping up the batter even more effortless and gives a beautiful, long-lasting moistness to the cake
- Lemons – We’re using the zest of a couple of lemons, but I’d even add the zest of one more if you can manage it!
- Lemon extract – To add even more lemon zing to the cake batter flavor
How to Make Flourless Lemon Almond Cake
Step 1: In a large mixing bowl, whisk to combine almond flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and ginger. Set aside.
Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk to combine eggs, oil, lemon zest and lemon extract until smooth.
Step 3: Add the wet mixture to the bowl of dry mixture and use a spatula or wooden spoon to fold in the ingredients until just combined.
Step 4: The batter will be thick, honey-colored and the texture will be grainy.
Step 5: Evenly distribute the batter between the two prepared cake pans.
Step 6: Use your spatula or spoon to spread the batter evenly in each pan.
Step 7: Bake for 24 minutes on the middle rack, or until the tops are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Step 8: Let cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then carefully remove the cake from each pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
How to make mascarpone frosting
Grab your ingredients:
- Mascarpone cheese
- Granulated sugar
- Heavy cream
- Clear vanilla extract or pure vanilla extract
- Ground ginger
- Lemon zest
Step 1: In a medium bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, sugar, heavy cream, vanilla, and ground ginger.
Step 2: Use a hand mixer or stand mixer (aff link) to beat on high speed until combined and it forms stiff peaks.
Step 3: Fold in lemon zest.
Step 4: Give it a taste – if desired, add more lemon zest, ginger, or a pinch of salt if you feel it’s too sweet.
Assemble the Cake
But first, level the cake. Once cooled, level off the top of one of the cakes (this will be your bottom layer). You can also level off both if you’d like the top to be flat as well. Discard the pieces you’ve shaved off the tops – or preferably, snack on them!
You’ll notice that I did not do any leveling of my cake – and quite honestly, I usually don’t.
Unless I’m making a cake for someone else where I care much more about the quality and appearance, my goal is just to get the cake in my face ASAP ;)
Step 1: Place the leveled-off cake layer on a platter and frost the top with 1/3 of the prepared frosting.
Step 2: Top with the second cake layer.
Step 3: Frost the top and sides of both layers with the remaining frosting.
Step 4: If desired, top with lemon zest and a twisted lemon round for a simple, low-effort presentation!
Substitutions & Variations
- Use a different frosting. My go-to frosting is always a quick batch of whipped mascarpone, and I don’t put much effort into truly decorating with it. You could always use a more sturdy buttercream that you can smoothly decorate the cake with, and pipe pretty flowers or other shapes to make it uniquely yours. Give my favorite cream cheese frosting a try, or make a super colorful concoction by using my blackberry buttercream!
- Or don’t frost it at all! It’s good enough to stand on its own (in my opinion), so you could leave it naked or give it a light dusting of powdered sugar.
- Top it with fresh fruit. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries would all taste great with this lemon cake.
- Top it with sliced almonds. You could lean into the almond theme and give it a light coat of sliced or slivered almonds on top and/or in the middle layer as well.
How to Store Lemon Almond Flour Cake
If assembled and frosted, the cake can be stored (covered) in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If the cake is unfrosted, you can store it in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Make Ahead and Freeze
Once the cake layers have cooled, you can wrap each unfrosted layer in plastic wrap and then place them inside a freezer-safe bag to store them in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Let them defrost on the counter at room temperature before assembling and decorating.
Helpful Tips for a Flourless Cake Recipe
- Make sure you’re using large eggs. Because the almond flour needs help from the eggs as a binding agent, make sure you’re using large eggs. If they’re smaller, they might not add enough moisture and you could end up with a dry cake.
- Don’t overmix the batter. It’s going to look a little grainy and lumpy and that’s okay because it’s supposed to! No need to beat the crap out of it to try to make it smooth.
- Don’t try to remove air bubbles from the batter, either. You may have seen people dropping their cake pans full of batter on a countertop to eliminate air bubbles, but we don’t want to do that with this cake. We want it to be light and airy, so keep that air in there!
- Make sure the pans are greased really well. My pans never give me trouble when I grease them or spray them with nonstick cooking spray, but you can always line the bottom with parchment paper as well to be 110% sure it won’t stick.
My go-to frosting is always a quick batch of whipped mascarpone, and I don’t put much effort into truly decorating with it. You could always use a more sturdy buttercream that you can smoothly decorate the cake with, and pipe pretty flowers or other shapes to make it uniquely yours. Give my favorite cream cheese frosting a try, or make a super colorful concoction by using my blackberry buttercream! Or for a truly no-effort frosting, coat it with Cool Whip or pre-made coconut whipped cream.
You can decorate a lemon cake as simply or as intricately as you want! I like to give it simple layers of fluffy whipped mascarpone, but if you choose to use a more sturdy buttercream or cream cheese frosting you can make much smoother and more elaborate designs and piping.
Slice a thin round of lemon (ensuring you’ve removed any seeds), and slice it in the middle from one edge to the other but don’t cut through the rind on the other side. Twist it 90 degrees and that’s it! Check out the photos of the decorated cake top in the post above for a visual.
Almond flour lends a tender crumb and light texture to cakes.
It is! Almond flour is simply ground almonds, and it lends a tender crumb and light texture to cakes, but it does need a little extra help with binding, so adding more eggs is a simple solution.
Vanilla ice cream is always a winner, but I actually like to double down on the lemon flavor and serve it with lemon sorbet.
After you’ve made this recipe, please consider coming back to share your experience with others by leaving a comment below with a star rating!
- 4 cups almond flour
- 1 cup cane sugar, can substitute granulated sugar or coconut sugar (see notes below)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large lemons, zested
- ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting* (see notes)
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, cold
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, can substitute powdered sugar
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream, cold
- 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract, can substitute pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 large lemon, zested
- Preheat oven to 350°F with the oven rack placed in the middle position. Coat two 8" round cake pans with nonstick spray and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk to combine almond flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and ginger. Set aside.4 cups almond flour1 cup cane sugar2 teaspoons baking powder1/2 teaspoon salt1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- In a medium bowl, whisk to combine eggs, oil, lemon zest and lemon extract until smooth.6 large eggs1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil2 large lemons1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
- Add the wet mixture to the bowl of dry mixture and use a spatula or wooden spoon to fold in the ingredients until just combined. The batter will be thick, honey-colored and the texture will be grainy.
- Evenly distribute the batter between the two prepared cake pans. Use your spatula or spoon to spread the batter evenly in each pan.
- Bake for 24 minutes on the middle rack, or until the tops are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Let cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then carefully remove the cake from each pan and let cool completely on wire rack.
- Once cooled, level off the top of one of the cakes (this will be your bottom layer). You can also level off both if you’d like the top to be flat as well. Discard the pieces you’ve shaved off the tops – or preferrably, snack on them!
Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting
- In a medium bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, sugar, heavy cream, vanilla and ground ginger. Use a hand mixer or stand mixer to beat on high speed until combined and it forms stiff peaks. Fold in lemon zest.8 ounces mascarpone cheese2 tablespoons granulated sugar1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract1/8 teaspoon ground ginger1 large lemon
- Place the leveled off cake layer on a platter and frost the top with 1/3 of the prepared frosting. Top with the second cake layer and frost the top and sides of both layers with remaining frosting.
- Slice, serve, and enjoy!
The provided nutrition information is generated by an automatic API and does not take variations across specific brands into account. This information is provided as a general guideline and should not be treated as official calculations. Learn more here.
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