Gluten Free Tangerine Cake ~ this flourless cake is such a wonderful surprise, made with whole tangerines and almond flour in the Italian tradition ~ it’s impossibly moist and bursting with citrus flavor, just like biting into a fresh tangerine!
VINTAGE VIEW ~ this gluten free tangerine cake is from TVFGI archives, first published in 2012. As part of a new series on the blog I’m reviving some of the best recipes that you may have missed over the years ~ I’ve updated my notes, taken new photos, and enjoyed making this wonderful cake again. It’s even better than I remember it!
Cakes made with whole citrus fruits have always fascinated me. The concept comes from the sunny island of Sicily, where citrus trees grow like weeds. This one is made with whole tangerines, peel and all! They’re boiled, de-seeded, and processed into a brilliant orange puree. The puree is blended with eggs, sugar, and almond flour, poured into a tart pan, and baked into the moistest, most delicate, tangerine cake you’ve ever tasted. This is an experience not to be missed!
This fresh tangerine cake is made without any flour or oil of any kind, and yet it’s fluffy, moist, and fabulous!
It’s hard to believe that the boiled tangerines, above, will magically morph into such a delightfully fluffy cake with so few ingredients and such minimal effort. It blows my mind every time. I used my Vitamix, which does an amazing job blitzing the tangerines into a silky puree, but any good food processor will work.
I bake it in a 9-inch springform or tart pan with a removable bottom so I can lift it out for serving and cutting. (You can also use a cheesecake pan.) The cake bakes up moist and dense, but with a light, almost sponge cake texture. I know it sounds strange, but it really is light and dense at the same time.
The cake slices like a dream, and will stay most for several days at room temperature. If you’d like to make it a day ahead, dust with powdered sugar just before serving.
TIP: To get the pretty lace effect lay a doily or piece of lace on top of the cooled cake and then sift powdered sugar over all. Carefully life off the lace and voila! Don’t be afraid to try, you can always cover up with a solid layer of powered sugar if necessary.
See my post on HOW TO DECORATE A CAKE WITH LACE for detailed instructions on how to achieve this pretty and surprisingly easy look. The technique is so versatile and can be used for all kinds of special occasion desserts from the winter holidays, to Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, etc.
Sometimes the message of a post can get drowned out by all the text and photos…so I’ll just put it here in plain black and white ~
Try this, it’s sensational.
After making this cake in 2012 I went on to make a FLOURLESS WHOLE MEYER LEMON CAKE in 2013 which is wonderful, too. I’m already experimenting with pink grapefruit and blood oranges ~ I’ll keep you posted ;)
Reader Rave ~
“What a wonderful cake! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. I’m lazy so I made it without boiling the fruit. I just peeled 6 tangerines and added half of one’s peel with the flesh. Threw that into my Vitamix to puree it. But of course I included Amaretto! My daughter couldn’t stop eating another slice. It came out just like your photo, and tastes like a fresh orange pound cake. I’m in love! We enjoyed it for dessert, followed by breakfast and lunch the next day. Pairs equally well with wine and tea. This is a keeper, for sure..” ~ Lilly
- 1 pound tangerines to make 11 1/2 ounces of puree (approximately 5-6, but weigh them)
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 cups almond meal or almond flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbsp Amaretto (completely optional)
- confectioner's sugar for dusting
- Set oven to 350F
- Step one is the only time consuming part of this cake. Wash your tangerines and put them in a saucepan covered with cold water. (They'll float, but don't worry about that) Bring to a boil, and boil for a full 15 minutes. The boiling removes the bitterness in the citrus skin.
- Drain and let the tangerines cool for a bit. Slice them in half, and then in half again. Remove any seeds and discard, but do this on a plate so you don't lose any juice or pulp. Put it all in a food processor and process until completely smooth. You may have to stop and scrape down the sides a few times. My finished puree weighed 11 1/2 oz, (about a cup) and I highly recommend weighing the puree and only using the 11 1/2 ounces. Too much puree will throw off the balance of ingredients in this cake.
- Set aside, or refrigerate until the next day if you want to do this ahead.
- The rest is a one bowl deal: Beat the eggs and sugar until light and creamy. Fold in the almond meal, orange pulp, baking powder, and Amaretto, if using. Mix until well combined.
- Pour into a buttered 9" spring form pan.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the cake is browning too fast, cover loosely with a sheet of foil.
- Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to finish cooling.
- Dust with confectioner's sugar. Decorate with some citrus zest if you like.
Tips for making the perfect gluten free tangerine cake~
- use good, sweet, seasonal tangerines…your cake will be as good as your fruit, so choose the best!
- Since you will be using the whole fruit, I recommend organic tangerines, if possible.
- Weigh the puree so that you get the proper amount in your cake. It should be 11 1/2 ounces.
- You can experiment with flavoring this cake. I added Amaretto on a whim, and you could use other spirits like Grand Marnier. You could also leave out the alcohol and use some vanilla or almond extract.