This post is sponsored by Botticelli. All words and opinions, as always, are entirely my own.
I’m going to cut straight to it… I could not be more excited to present this recipe. This is a cake so soft and moist, so tender and yet dense, so aromatic—it’s perfect in nearly every way.
Decoratively fanned atop the cake are thinly sliced black plums (which are actually baked beneath the batter). I know that March is a bit early for plums—or quite late, depending on the variety and where you are—but that almost works better here. When you have perfectly ripened seasonal plums it would not only almost be a shame to cook such a pure offering, but you also run the risk of the supple stone fruit softening into a melted violet jam in the pan rather than hold their shape. Using under ripened plums also lends a bit of a tart edge, which helps to balance the richness of the cake.
And it’s quite the taskmaster, this, because not only is it perfectly indulgent and delicious, but it also pulls double duty by being conscious of dietary restrictions, too. Yes, it’s both gluten free and dairy free. A polarizing topic if there ever was one, I know—while some jump with delight, others are groaning. To those in the latter camp, stick with me and don’t hurt yourself with any epic eye rolls.
This cake uses almond meal as its main dry ingredient. It creates a tender cake with a tight crumb, like it might crumble into fine rubble, but gives it a density that makes it a true textural indulgence. Almond meal can be too dense though, lacking the ability to hold it self up, causing the cake to sink when it starts cooling outside of the oven—something you wouldn’t mind for, say, a chocolate cake with almond meal base, but here so much—so additional support is needed. Enter coconut flour. It has a gentle waft of toasted unsweetened coconut and amazingly absorbent abilities, which gives this cake the stability it needs. If you’re unfamiliar with coconut flour-based cakes a quick online search will show you a plethora of recipes for layered cakes that use, and I’m generalizing here, something like ½ cup coconut flour with twice the amount of oil and milk, and about 6 eggs—point is, it does a better job than most sponges at absorbency. It helps support the heavy almond meal but also absorb some of the fat that, although in non-gluten free cakes would be a nonissue, would threaten sogginess here.
(Look for “(Finely Ground) Blanched Almond Flour”, pictured on the left—the skins have been remove, unlike coarser ground “Almond Meal” pictured right, making for a better texture and no almond skin stuck in your teeth!)
And speaking of the fat, I go with extra virgin olive oil for this cake. Butter would overpower the already buttery and subtle nutty taste from the almond, where olive oil both accentuates and contrasts it. Most baking recipes that use olive oil call for regular or light oils because of their subtle taste—read “less olive oil-y”—but here the full-flavored bouquet, fruity and peppery, works incredibly well. The cake tastes almost golden with that robust green anointment. I love Botticelli’s Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil for its strong and pure olive oil flavor, and here it’s particularly good. If you can’t find it in your local supermarket—you can search for locations here —you can purchase directly from their site.
If you rolled your eyes at the notion of this being gluten free and dairy free, trust me, you won’t miss either here. This cake is every bit as indulgent and satisfying this way as it would be with butter and flour, and actually I’d dare to even say that with butter and flour it wouldn’t be nearly as good. Sure, this is great if you’re feeding someone with gluten or dairy intolerances, but that only comes second to it being something that actually tastes good. And if you still have any doubts just give it a try. It’s okay. I won’t tell.
And just a friendly reminder… I’m on BLOGLOVIN’. Follow me, okay?
|8 about||15 minutes|
|40 - 45 minutes (plus about an hour for cooling)|
- 3 - 4 black plums about 3/4 pound (under ripe is preferred)
- 3 t-spoons extra virgin olive oil divided (Botticelli recommended)
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (Botticelli recommended)
- 4 eggs room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups almond flour (finely ground blanched almond flour)
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1 t-spoon baking powder (see note)
- 1/4 t-spoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t-spoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 t-spoon lemon zest
- 1/4 t-spoon kosher salt
- Cut a piece of parchment paper into a 9” round, trimming it to make sure it fits perfectly in the bottom of the pan.
- Grease the bottom of the springform with 1 t-spoon of the olive oil and set the parchment paper inside. Spread the remaining 2 t-spoons of olive oil on top of the parchment and sprinkle over the turbinado sugar.
- Halve and pit the plums (if the pit is difficult to remove, cut the plum half with the pit in half again and pop it out). Slice the plums into thin slices—about 1/8” thick. Decoratively fan them around the bottom of the pan. Stick the pan in the freezer for about 15 – 20 minutes to help set them—this makes it easier to spread the batter without moving the plums too much.
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Pulse the dry ingredients—almond flour, coconut flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt—in a food processor a few times to combine. Mix the eggs, olive oil, lemon zest, and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup and whisk just to combine.
- Turn the processor on and immediately pour in the wet ingredients. Let it run for just a few seconds, then scrape down the bottom and sides with a rubber spatula and pulse a few more times to make sure it’s combined.
- Tip the batter into the springform and spread it evenly over the plums. Set the pan in a baking sheet and bake for about 40 – 45 minutes, until cooked through.
- Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Run a sharp pairing knife around the edge of the cake to make sure it’s loosened from the pan before removing the sides. Let it cool completely—at least an hour—before inverting on to a plate, carefully removing the bottom of the pan and peeling off the parchment paper to reveal the plums.
- I like to serve this just as is, but there’s nothing stopping you from keeping a bowl of whipped cream or crème fraîche (maybe lightly sweetened with powdered sugar) close by.
- Make sure the baking powder is gluten free. Most use cornstarch for anti-caking, but some use wheat-based starches so err on the side of caution.
- Don’t let the processor run for too long, especially once the wet ingredients are added. You run the risk of almost turning the almond flour into almond butter.
- You also don’t need to use the food processor for this, just simply whisk the dry ingredients together and then the wet in a separate bowl until combined (taking care not to beat too much air into it). Pour wet into dry and stir together with a rubber spatula.
- You can make this in advance! Once unmolded, flipped, and cooled completely cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate. It's best to serve within 1 - 2 days, taking it out of the fridge and letting it come to room temp for about 30 minutes beforehand. After a couple days the plums start to dampen the top of the cake—it's not a bad thing though, and I'm still happy to eat it this way myself, even for breakfast.