Cake

A Chocolate-Almond Cake That's Rich & Jammy—Even Without Butter

March 31, 2017

Scan the ingredient list for the gluten-free chocolate-almond cake in Elisabeth Prueitt's new book Tartine All Day, and you'll notice there's no butter. Or oil. Is it a typo? An egregious error? Or a bit of magic?

The cake, as Liz writes in the headnote, exemplifies the "reward of recipe development [that comes] when you hit upon a method, ratio, trick, or particular combination of ingredients that makes all the failures worth it." It relies solely on the almond flour's natural oil for enrichment (helped along by eggs, milk, and cocoa, of course).

It was not initially what I was expecting, but so much better.
Elisabeth Prueitt, Author of Tartine All Day

In developing the recipe, Liz—who is the co-founder of San Francisco's Tartine Bakery, Bar Tartine, and Tartine Manufactory—fiddled with ratios for other classic chocolate-almond cakes. After just two or three adjustments—a remarkably small number of trials, she told me—Liz realized that she didn't have to add any additional oil for a rich cake with a moist crumb. "Even though of course we know almonds have a good amount of oil in them, it still surprised me that I didn't have to add any additional oil."

Dimples of jam, covered up with whipped cream. Photo by Julia Gartland

The second surprise came with the cake's texture. While other flourless cakes are fudgy and squat, with a velvety squish you might mistake for a truffle, this one has an airier crumb, like that from your favorite boxed mix. "I thought this recipe would be much more of a dense, classic flourless chocolate cake," Liz told me, "and so when it baked up much lighter, with a classic cake structure, it was not initially what I was expecting, but so much better."

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And if all of that would have been enough—dayenu!—to get you into the kitchen, let me regale you with yet another attribute: Jam is polka-dotted all over the batter's surface so that in the oven, when the cake rises around the jam drops, you get divots of soft, fruity sweetness. If you slice the cake strategically, every wedge can can have a pocket or two of jam. And if you cover the cake in soft peaks of whipped cream, those jam pockets come as a welcome surprise.

If you're looking for places to play, you might start with different jams. Liz has used almost everything they preserve at her restaurants, from strawberry jam to orange-passionfruit marmalade. Lemon curd would be welcome here, as would kaya (coconut jam) or guava jelly. You could also branch out with the type of nut flour—hazelnuts would be closest to almonds in terms of texture and fat content, says Liz, but you might also experiment with walnuts, pistachios, or pecans.

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Top Comment:
“I recently had a GF Flourless Chocolate cake at a Japanese restaurant that was light as a cloud, it was divine. I wondered where I could find a recipe for something like that and here is it! Can't wait to give this a try! I may give it a mosaic effect and use up all the different jams in the fridge...it it time for spring cleaning after all and what a delicious way to start! Thank you!!!”
— katswan
Comment

It could take a few attempts, sure—but when you hit on the right combination of jam and nut, all those trials will be worth it.

Where did you find your favorite cake recipe? Share with us in the comments below.

25 Comments

Bella95 September 30, 2017
Very excited to find a chocolate almond cake that doesn't need blocks of chocolate. Usually when l decide l want a chocolate flavoured cake it's because l've eaten all the actual chocolate. Will be making this tomorrow!
 
Lisa April 11, 2017
I am tempted to try this with full fat coconut milk and aquafaba to make it vegan. Has anyone else tried that?
 
Nicholas April 9, 2017
Very interesting. I see that my somewhat mixed review of yesterday was dropped. As I noted then, the cake is moist, and the jam is a very nice addition, but I found the texture of the cake structurally a bit weak, too crumbly. I also noted that Maida Heatter's recipe for another chocolate almond cake, Queen Mother's Cake, is excellent.
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 9, 2017
Hi Nicholas, Your other comment is on the recipe page (whereas this one is on the article page). And thanks for recommending those other cakes!
 
katswan April 3, 2017
I recently had a GF Flourless Chocolate cake at a Japanese restaurant that was light as a cloud, it was divine. I wondered where I could find a recipe for something like that and here is it! Can't wait to give this a try! I may give it a mosaic effect and use up all the different jams in the fridge...it it time for spring cleaning after all and what a delicious way to start! Thank you!!!
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 3, 2017
Oooh, a jam mosaic sounds delicious! I wonder if you had a castella cake at the Japanese restaurant? http://www.justonecookbook.com/castella/
 
katswan April 9, 2017
Thank you for the Castella cake recipe! We definitely had a Flourless cake though, my husband has issues eating wheat flour and he ate more than his share of the cake with no issues. Kind of unusual to see cake in a Japanese restaurant, I wonder why they don't serve more Castella Cakes? Thank you for all your terrific articles and recipes!!!
 
Nora April 1, 2017
Very nice cake. I treated the layers as 2 separate cakes, no whipped cream this time, and used different jams. I have a raspberry jalapeno jam that is delicious with the chocolate, and the bit of heat is great. Next time--mocha! Or orange zest! And maybe just stir the jam into the batter.
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 3, 2017
Mocha sounds great! Let us know how it goes.
 
Hungry L. April 1, 2017
I made the cake yesterday and assembled it (with the lightly-sweetened whipped cream) this morning. Really pleased with this recipe. As advertised, the cake was really moist and airy - surprisingly light. It received great reviews from my classmates!<br /><br />I used raspberry jam btw, but I think this would be incredible with coconut jam and some toasted coconut shavings to garnish.
 
Hungry L. April 1, 2017
I made the cake yesterday and assembled it (with the lightly-sweetened whipped cream) this morning. Really pleased with this recipe. As advertised, the cake was really moist and airy - surprisingly light. It received great reviews from my classmates!<br /><br />I used raspberry jam btw, but I think this would be incredible with coconut jam and some toasted coconut shavings to garnish.
 
Hungry L. April 1, 2017
I made the cake yesterday and assembled it (with the lightly-sweetened whipped cream) this morning. Really pleased with this recipe. As advertised, the cake was really moist and airy - surprisingly light. It received great reviews from my classmates!<br /><br />I used raspberry jam btw, but I think this would be incredible with coconut jam and some toasted coconut shavings to garnish.
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. April 3, 2017
Glad it went well, and coconut jam really does sound delicious.
 
Jessica L. March 31, 2017
I wonder if this is kosher for Passover? That would be lovely. Is almond flour the sane thing as almond meal?
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. March 31, 2017
Yes, same as almond meal! And yes, kosher for Passover (in my book!).
 
Whiteantlers March 31, 2017
I never bake cakes/pastry, but this is incredibly inspiring!
 
sayjill March 31, 2017
Is it ok to use non-dairy milk - almond or coconut?
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. March 31, 2017
I'm not so sure—I think you need the fat content in the milk so that it bakes up with the moist richness. But if you experiment, please let us know how it goes!
 
witloof April 2, 2017
I just made chickpea flour muffins using full fat coconut milk and they were great. You can't taste the coconut at all and they had a wonderful texture.
 
Cathy March 31, 2017
Could that be made in a 9x13 pan?
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. March 31, 2017
Based on Alice's article on modifying baking recipes for different pan sizes, it should work (https://food52.com/blog/13239-how-to-make-your-baking-recipe-fit-your-pan-size)—but I haven't tried it! You'll likely need to adjust baking time (and you might need to hold back some of the batter and pour it off into a smaller pan).
 
Azora Z. March 31, 2017
ITWT (in tartine we trust)
 
Dustimily April 17, 2017
I have had such hit and miss experiences with this book so far. Not sure I would entirely concur with this statement.
 
drbabs March 31, 2017
Sarah, is it 2-3 teaspoons or 2/3 of a teaspoon?
 
Author Comment
Sarah J. March 31, 2017
Eeeks, 2/3 CUP! Thanks for catching that!