I was on the lookout for a decadent dessert for a dinner party that could be gluten free without seeming so. Although this recipe was not initially gf, it called for just 1/2 cup of all purpose flour, so I figured it could easily be replaced with gf flour. I was right! The bulk of the cake is actually ground nuts (originally pistachios, but I now make it with almonds and walnuts since those are cheaper), so the small amount of flour doesn’t play a huge role.
I then wondered if I could make it vegan as well by subbing out the eggs for ground flax goo and coconut oil for the butter. Why, yes you can! The resulting cake was more dense, but just as delicious. The cook time was longer, but the resulting crispy/chewy edges were more than worth the wait. I think next time I’ll bake it in two smaller pans, but, other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing!
- 1 1/3 cups unsalted shelled pistachio nuts (or use walnuts)
- 1 1/3 cups blanched whole almonds
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (or use coconut oil)
- 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 lemons
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 eggs (or use 3 tablespoons flax meal combined with 9 tablespoons water, mix and let sit for 5 minutes)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or use gluten free flour)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Oil a 4-by-8-inch loaf pan (if making a vegan cake, I recommend splitting the recipe up into two pans). Then, dust it with flour or gluten free flour, tapping out the excess.
In a food process, combine the two nuts and pulse until finely ground. Set aside.
Combine the butter (or coconut oil) and sugar in a large bowl. Grate the zest from the lemons directly into the bowl. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Mix in the vanilla just until incorporated. On low speed, gradually add the nuts and mix just until incorporated. Then add the eggs (or flax goo), one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Stir in the flour and salt and mix just until incorporated.
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes (longer if vegan). Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then, run a paring knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake sides, invert the cake onto a plate, and lift off the pan. At this point, the cake can be served warm or allowed to cool completely before being sliced and reheated. I’ve fancied this up by plating each piece with a dollop of whipped cream (or vegan cashew creme) and a few orange supremes, but it’s just as good as bit sized finger food.