My gluten free zucchini cake is a moist, grain-free cake lightly spiced and generously topped with my best cream cheese frosting. It’s the perfect cake to ease you into fall baking-mode.
This gluten free zucchini cake is all about texture!
Even though I don’t personally need to follow a gluten free diet, some of my favorite recipes over the years have been flourless or gluten free cakes. But I don’t use elaborate gluten free baking mixes or unpronounceable ingredients; I keep it natural.
By using ingredients like ground nut meals and even whole fruit pulps like like lemon and tangerine, I get amazing textures that you just don’t find in regular cakes. The shredded zucchini, almond flour, and chopped walnuts in this cake don’t disappoint in the texture department ~ its got a fabulous moist crumb.
Almond ‘flour’ replaces regular grain flour in this cake
Almond ‘flour’ is simply finely ground almonds.
- It looks like flour, it feels like flour, and you can bake with it like flour, but it contains no gluten like actual grain flours do. It has wonderful flavor and brings the protein rich nutrition of nuts to a recipe.
There are several different varieties: almond meal, almond flour, and super fine almond flour.
- The meal is made with almonds that still have their skins, and it’s a little bit coarser than almond flour, which is made from blanched almonds. Finely ground almond flour is the most like all purpose flour in texture. All three are interchangeable but will give you slightly different results.
You can make your own almond flour
- Grind blanched almonds in your food processor or blender ~ just be careful not to go too far or you’ll wind up with almond butter. Homemade almond flour will generally not be as fine as commercially made.
Almond flour keeps best in the refrigerator or freezer
- The oils in nuts spoil easily. I keep a bag in the freezer at all times, there’s no need to thaw it out before using, so it’s super convenient.
Tips for perfectly cooked gluten free cakes ~
Flourless gluten free cakes are often very delicate. This is because gluten provides structure and stability to baked goods, and when you remove it the result is very tender and soft. Definitely not a bad thing, but something to be aware of. For this recipe, I recommend:
- Prep your pan ~ When I bake a gluten free cake I almost always use either a springform pan or a nonstick cake pan lined with a round of parchment paper on the bottom. If you’re using a regular cake pan, like for this recipe, the parchment paper will keep the cake from sticking to the bottom and help you ease it out.
- Make sure your cake is fully cooked ~ gluten free cakes are moist by nature, and don’t rise like regular cakes, so normal visual cues, even the toothpick test, aren’t always accurate.
Make sure your oven is at the accurate temperature when you bake gluten free. An oven thermometer is a must.
Make sure that when touched lightly in the center the cake bounces back rather than leaving an indent. If your cake is getting too brown on top as it cooks, tent it with a piece of foil for the remainder of the baking time.
Err on the side of slightly over baking rather than risking under baking, this insures the excess moisture has a chance to fully cook out.
A great cream cheese frosting is all about striking that perfect balance between sweet and tangy ~
I use a mixture of cream cheese and butter in this frosting, along with the perfect amount of sugar to make it smooth, creamy, sweet, and deliciously tangy. But, really, I think of making frosting as a “taste-as-you-go” kind of thing, so I encourage you to do just that, and adjust the amount of sugar to your liking.
Make it your own. If you feel like your frosting is a little too sweet, try adding a touch of lemon juice to bring back the tartness. I also like to add a pinch of salt to almost all my frostings to make the flavors come alive.
My favorite gluten free cakes ~
- Gluten Free Tangerine Cake
- Flourless Pumpkin Spice Cake
- Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Flourless Walnut Cake with Fresh Figs
Gluten Free Zucchini Cake
For the cake
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 Tbsp butter, melted and partially cooled
- 2 1/4 cups almond flour or meal
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini, lightly packed
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
For the frosting
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- Preheat oven to 350F and lightly butter an 8 inch round cake pan. I place a circle of parchment paper at the bottom of my pan, as well, for easier removal.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or with electric mixers, beat the eggs and the sugar until very pale and thick, about 5 minutes.
- Add the melted butter and vanilla extract, and briefly mix to combine.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
- Gently fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture. I like to do this by hand with a silicone spatula.
- Gently fold in the zucchini and chopped walnuts just until everything is combined, don't over mix.
- Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and bake for about 45 minutes. The cake should be risen and golden brown, and the top should spring back when touched lightly. If the cake is getting too brown on top before it is done baking, tent it with tinfoil.
- Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes in the baking pan, then gently turn it out onto a baking rack to cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth. Beat in the salt and vanilla, and then the sifted powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time.
- If the frosting seems too loose, put it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so to thicken up before frosting the cake.
- Add the frosting to the top of the cooled cake, and enjoy immediately or keep refrigerated until ready to eat.