This Flourless Pumpkin Spice Cake is the ultimate gluten free fall dessert ~ it’s like a cross between a pumpkin cake and a pumpkin pie ~ denser than cake, lighter than pie ~ it’s the goldilocks of pumpkin desserts. Did I mention this luxurious treat has no added fat, as well? It might just be the perfect dessert, period!
Gluten free diets have been super popular for a while, but you definitely don’t need to be eating gluten free to fall head over heels in love with this simple pumpkin cake. It follows in a long line of gluten free cakes on this blog. And even though I happily eat gluten every day 😉 I am obsessed with the luxurious texture of gluten free desserts, especially cakes. As a bonus they’re some of the quickest and easiest desserts you can make.
What is a naturally gluten free dessert?
I consider this a naturally gluten free dessert, meaning there were no substitutions necessary to make it gluten free, the regular ingredients all happen to be deliciously gluten free.
There is no need for wheat flour in this cake because almond meal (aka almond flour) takes its place. Almond meal cakes are traditional in Europe and many other parts of the world.
Almond flour adds just enough structure to this cake, but also lends it incredible tenderness, too.
If you’re a fan of my other gluten free cakes you’ll recognize what I call its unique fluffy/dense texture.
It sounds like a contradiction, but I think you can see it if you look closely at the photos. The cake is moist and not airy, but has a large crumb to it as well, which I think is lovely. This same texture can be found in my Gluten Free Tangerine Cake. Both cakes slice beautifully, and take a lacy powdered sugar design well (see the end of the post for directions.)
Pumpkin puree has the unique ability to create a moist, rich cake without any added fat. Amazing!
What is the difference between almond meal and almond flour?
- Both almond meal and almond flour are made by grinding almonds, but the meal is a coarser grind, while the flour is lighter and finer.
- Almond meal is sometimes made with whole almonds, with their skins on. This gives it color and texture, as well as a deeper flavor.
- Almond flour is usually made by grinding blanched, or skinned, almonds for a lighter, finer result.
- Both will work in this cake, and each will give it a slightly different personality.
- Almond flour has gotten so popular lately that there are lots of choices on the market. My current preference for baking desserts like this flourless pumpkin cake is a super fine almond flour, and several brands make it. You might find it at your larger supermarkets, or you can always find it online.
How to make your own almond flour ~
Sometimes it can be difficult to find almond flour in your regular grocery store, but worry not, it couldn’t be easier to make yourself. You’ll need a food processor or high speed blender like a Vitamix to do it.
- Put whole almonds, either raw or blanched, into the bowl of your processor or blender. Pulse or pulse and briefly run the machine until the almonds have been ground into a fluffy flour. With the Vitamix I sometimes have to rearrange or stir the almonds once or twice, but it happens quite quickly.
- This process will not take long, so take care not to over-process or you’ll end up with almond butter!
How to serve this flourless pumpkin cake ~
- This cake can be served plain, along with some whipped cream or ice cream on the side.
- You can dust with powdered sugar.
- I like to decorate the top with powdered sugar in a lace pattern. Different types of lace will create endless different designs. This is your chance to make use of those thrift store finds, or any vintage crochet you’ve got stashed away gathering dust.
Tips and techniques for decorating a cake with lace ~
I lay a piece of lace or crochet over the top of the cooled cake and dust with powdered sugar through a mesh strainer. Then I carefully lift the lace to reveal the pattern. It’s amazing how much detail comes through.
- Make sure your cake surface is dry, flat, and cooled. Not all cakes are good candidates for this treatment.
- Make sure your doily is unrumpled, and has enough perforations to make a good design. Iron it if necessary, and test it out first on the counter.
- Lay your doily or piece of lace down on the cake or counter and spread it out carefully.
- Using a mesh sieve, liberally sprinkle powdered sugar all over the surface. Be sure to cover the edges, too, so your whole design will show. Very carefully lift the lace off the surface to reveal the design. If you’re doing a large surface it can be useful to have a helper for 2 extra hands.
- Use confectioner’s sugar on medium to dark desserts, and cocoa powder on light ones. You can even mix cinnamon or other spices with the powdered sugar for different flavors and effects.
- Decorate your cake just before serving. Sometimes moisture from the cake will erode the deign over time. With this cake the sugar design held up really well.
- Experiment with different patterns ~ you can use paper stencils as well as fabric.
Useful equipment ~
- Lace doilies or crochet lace from your grandmother, the thrift store, or online!
- A fine mesh strainer, I like to use a medium to large size for this project, it helps get the sugar evenly coated.
Flourless Pumpkin Spice Cake
- 10 inch tart pan
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup or 220 grams granulated sugar
- 12 ounces or 340 grams canned pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 3 cups or 344 grams almond meal or almond flour
- confectioner's sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350F Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 10 inch tart pan with removable bottom, or a springform pan.
- Whisk or beat together the eggs and sugar, then beat in the pumpkin, baking powder, and spices. I do this in my food processor, but you don't have to. Just make sure the eggs and sugar are well combined.
- Fold in the almond flour. Turn the batter into your pan, and smooth it out with an offset spatula so that the surface is completely flat and even.
- Place your pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, or just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (it will be moist, but no wet batter clinging to it.) Don't over bake this cake.
- Let cool on a rack and then remove from the pan. Dust with confectioner's sugar, or decorate with a lace pattern (see post for specific directions.)
notes and variations