cinnamon almond cake {gluten-free}

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Every morning I wake, determined to create something new. Even in my darkest moments, even when I’ve collapsed into tears while holding my frail cat in my hands or when I feel smothered by so much uncertainty, I know there is no nobility in sitting alone in the great, big dark. There’s no beauty in martyrdom, in a body that lay supine, idle. A great mind whose sole purpose is pushing the tears out. From handwritten notes and long emails to creating short stories and decadent pastries, I seek to create a bit of extraordinary in an ordinary life. This is sometimes a personal pursuit, a salve for a mind that would otherwise atrophy, but it’s often a gift for someone else. If I’ve learned anything in the past few months it’s this: I have to open my heart. There’s no other way.

Yesterday, I made a cake for someone who doesn’t know she’s getting it yet. This is a friend who brought me groceries when I was content to sit in my apartment and watch movies, letting the dust moats settle over my face. This is a friend who convinced me — simply by existing, simply by glowing — that yoga is the thing I need. Yoga constantly reminds me that I need to come back to the breath, return to myself, and create space for all the new.

And today I’m creating the note that will tell her just how much I needed her at that moment. How much I always need people. How very happy I am to finally have allowed all the beautiful ones in.

Create something new. Do it.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Nigellissima
8 egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Zest of 1 orange {or ruby grapefruit}
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing tin
1 ½ cups almond meal/flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Powdered sugar, to decorate (optional)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease a 9” springform cake tin with olive oil.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are opaque and start to hold their shape, then slowly add the sugar in three batches of a 1/4 cup each, whisking until incorporated and the mixture is thick and shiny. If you’ve made meringue, this technique will be all too familiar. Ultimately, you want to move past the foamy and frothy stage (when you’re first adding the sugar) to a point where the you have nearly stiff peaks. Add the almond extract and the orange zest. Then, alternately whisk in the oil and the ground almonds (mixed with the baking powder) in thirds until smoothly incorporated into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, then mix together the sliced almonds and cinnamon and sprinkle them over the top of the cake. Place the tin on a baking sheet (to prevent burning) and bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the top has risen and set, the almonds become golden, and a cake tester comes out clean. I started checking my cake after 30 minutes. Cakes made with whites are tricky because they can sometimes come out slightly foamy in the center. {If this happens, don’t freak out, just put the cake back into the oven and cook until the cake is slightly more firm.}

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool in its tin on a wire rack. Once cooled, spring open the sides of the tin, but don’t try to remove the cake from the base until properly cool. When you are ready to serve, sprinkle the powdered sugar over the cake to create a snowy effect, then slice and serve.

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3 thoughts on “cinnamon almond cake {gluten-free}

  1. Gorgeous recipe! I went through Nigellissma over and over, could have bought it very cheap through work but decided not to. Now I am thinking maybe it was a mistake? This is my kind of cake.

    Like

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