Pecan-Crusted Oat Flour Genoise, No Frosting Necessary

December 29, 2014

Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: Alice is using oat flour to make a cake so delicious that frosting would only be a distraction. And, added bonus -- it's gluten free.

Shop the Story

Who knew that oat flour had marvelous caramel and toffee notes? It makes a most delicious sponge cake -- this one is a genoise, actually. Editors often give me a hard time about plain cake (of which I’m a great fan). I have to be reminded that people love frosting, and photo editors always want some kind of finished look to things. So, my intention was to make a two-layer oat flour sponge cake and frost it with something between penuche and brown sugar buttercream. But every time I tasted the cake, I questioned the frosting.

This cake is a brand new experience for most people. It’s entirely made of oat flour, and it’s entirely yummy and amazing -- I want you to taste that! Of course I didn’t want the delicious thing to look naked and boring. So while I have ditched the frosting, I’ve added a thin, crunchy, sweet crust that's easily created by baking the batter in pan coated with butter, brown sugar, and pecans. What could be bad? (And who says I am intractable?) 

The cake comes together quickly and easily, but it does require your best folding technique. And, for smooth sailing from start to finish, do please set up the saucepan with butter, the bowls, and the strainers as instructed. You will have just enough time to brown the butter while the eggs are beating! 

Pecan-Crusted Oat Flour Genoise

Adapted from a recipe from my book Flavor Flours (Artisan 2014)

Makes one 9-inch cake

2 tablespoons (30 grams) softened butter
3 tablespoons (38 grams) brown sugar*
1 cup (100 grams) pecans or walnuts, chopped medium fine
4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter
1 cup (100 grams) oat flour
2/3 cup (130 grams) sugar
4 large eggs, cold
Generous 1/8 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)


9 x 2-inch round pan
Stand mixer with whisk attachment
Medium mesh strainer or sifter
Fine mesh strainer (or tea strainer)

*It’s fine to use ordinary brown sugar -- dark is more flavorful than light. If you want to go all out, use a real raw sugar such as light muscovado sugar. Big wow.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Get excited about Alice's new book Flavor Flours: nearly 125 recipes -- from Double Oatmeal Cookies to Buckwheat Gingerbread -- made with wheat flour alternatives like rice flour, oat flour, corn flour, sorghum flour, and teff (not only because they're gluten-free, but for an extra dimension of flavor, too).  

Photos by Mark Weinberg

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Darrell
  • Virginia Candela
    Virginia Candela
  • Veggielover
  • Steven Reetz
    Steven Reetz
  • Kate Makowiecka
    Kate Makowiecka
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).


Darrell May 30, 2017
Oats 'are' gluten free, however they can become cross contaminated if they're processed in a plant that processes wheat and other grains. This is something that I have to be aware of and I have no problems with Bob's Red Mill gluten free oats.
Virginia C. February 2, 2017
This recipe looks great and I really look forward to making. Silly editors: there is, indeed, a selection of the public who don't particularly care for cakes or cookies that require frosting (aka: even more sugar and fat than they started with) in order to be appealing/tasty. The photograph of this cake is aesthetically pleasing and it does not need any frosting to be so.
Veggielover January 2, 2017
I'm so excited to try this cake! It looks fabulous! It's just the sort of cake that would be great served with a dollop of whipped cream. Yummmmmmm....
Steven R. January 14, 2015
Kate M, Maybe the oats are gluten free? And why not answer the question asked by Susan F?
Kate M. January 7, 2015
susanfrankel - my point was that this cake is being presented as 'gluten free' and it isn't.
Susie January 7, 2015
Can another gluten free flour - maybe almond flour - substitute for the oat flour?
Kate M. January 5, 2015
Oats are not necessarily gluten-free, though it is possible to find gluten-free strains; please don't give a coeliac friend this cake without making sure you have used gluten-free oat flour.
isabel A. December 30, 2014
Thank you, thank you for the Cup to Gram Conversions.
Now I'm going to cook a lot more recipes from your site.
Wish you all the best for the New Year <3

AntoniaJames December 29, 2014
So appealing! Thank you for the weight measures. ;o)