This mini gluten-free almond cake is one of my absolute favorites, and I might even be so bold as to claim it’s the best almond cake I’ve ever had, gluten-free or otherwise. Developing it was a labor of love. It went through many, many tests, tweaking and perfecting it each step along the way.
It bears a strong resemblance to Tarta de Santiago, a traditional cake from Galicia.
But can I really claim that this is Tarta de Santiago? I don't think so. I made some huge changes in method, pivoted away from traditional flavorings, and gilded it with a crunchy crust vaguely reminiscent of a Scandinavian Toscakaka. You can read more about the development process if you hop over to thefill-sized 9-inch version of this recipe.
Simple ingredients: Almonds, sugar, egg.
The end result is a surprisingly light, slightly chewy cake, similar to the delightful chew of a French macaron. The double crust of almonds and sugar, top and bottom, both boosts the almond flavor and adds a wonderful contrasting crispy crunch. It’s one bowl, one pan, and insanely easy. I love to serve it with a dollop of crème fraîche and berries, or with whipped cream that’s been flavored with a juicy berry jam or slightly bitter-sweet marmalade.
Notes for Success:
When scaling this recipe down from the standard 9-inch version, I found that the ideal egg measurement was roughly 1.3 eggs and 1.3 egg whites. That’s objectively obnoxious. Luckily a standard Extra-Large egg in the US is roughly 1.3x the size of a standard Large egg. However, I do realize that buying a carton of XL eggs just for this recipe is also pretty obnoxious. I tested the recipe using 1 Large egg and 1 Large egg white and it is still absurdly delicious, if a bit more dense. Whichever size egg you choose, the important thing is that you make this cake. Soon.
Recipe: Mini (Perfect) Almond Cake
- About ¼ cup turbinado or demerara sugar, for sprinkling
- 32 grams (about ⅓ cup) sliced almonds, roughly chopped
- 65 grams whole beaten eggs (about 1 extra-large egg) plus 40g egg whites (about 1 extra-large egg white) (See Note)
- 100 grams (½ cup) white sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 112 grams (About 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) almond flour
- Step 1Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Grease the bottom and sides of a 6-inch regular or spring-form cake pan, line with parchment, then grease the top of the parchment. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with an even layer of turbinado sugar (about 2 tablespoons), then sprinkle with half the almonds. Set the remaining turbinado sugar and almonds aside while you make the cake batter.
- Step 2In a large bowl, combine the white sugar, whole eggs, egg whites, salt, and both extracts. Whisk vigorously until well combined and slightly frothy, about 30 to 60 full seconds of energetic mixing. Whisk in the almond flour. Transfer to the prepared cake pan and sprinkle evenly with the remaining chopped almonds, then sprinkle with an even layer of turbinado sugar (about 2 more tablespoons).
- Step 3Bake until the cake is deeply browned and a hard crust has formed, 45 to 55 minutes. Don’t bother with the toothpick test— it will come out clean before the cake is done. Instead, tap the top of the cake with your fingernail or the tip of a butter knife--it should sound hard. If in doubt, err on the side of a few more minutes as it's nearly impossible to over-bake this cake.
- Step 4Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a plate. Remove the pan and parchment and then re-invert onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely before serving.