Gluten-Free Blood Orange Cardamom Cake

Before I started blogging about food, lemons were lemons and oranges were oranges. Things are different now.

Now, I’m obsessed with Meyer lemons.

And crazy about specialty oranges: blood oranges, in particular. I’m totally and completely in love with them because they are so beautiful…


…and because when they are in season (now!), they taste just like a perfectly ripe orange should (maybe even better). In a perfect world, I’d be able to say the oranges are local (alas, here in New York that’s an impossibility).

When Amanda and Merrill from Food52 challenged us to create a recipe utilizing blood oranges, feta cheese and mint, I was pretty much all over it.

I contemplated doing a salad. But that seemed so obvious. So I pondered some more and decided to adapt this Meyer Lemon Cake to feature blood oranges instead. My entry for the contest ended up being this Blood Orange Cake with Mint Feta Ice Cream…have a look at the recipe on Food52, if you like.

That’s not the recipe I’m going to share here on the blog, though. You see, when I first blogged about the Meyer Lemon Cake, I got a lot of questions from readers wondering about adapting the recipe in various ways. Could they reduce the sugar? Or use a more natural sweetener? Change the oil? Leave out the yogurt? Make it gluten-free?

I had, of course, been wondering all of these things myself, and since I just love making my favorite recipes healthier, I decided to make another version of the cake keeping all of your concerns in mind. This one uses high protein, gluten-free almond flour, pure maple syrup and organic coconut oil. It is gluten and dairy-free, and I think it’s pretty fantastic.


My family loved this blood orange cardamom cake. I am being very honest when I tell you that they do not always enjoy my healthy baking endeavors, but they definitely enjoyed this one.

The almond flour I used is not blanched: there are flecks of almond skin throughout. I see no reason why you can’t use the more widely available blanched almond flour in this recipe, though (just know that your cake may end up with a slightly different color and texture then mine). I added some ground cardamom because I love how it compliments the orange flavor, but you could use cinnamon instead.

I personally prefer a subtle orange flavor, but if you want more of the lovely blood orange taste (and color) in your cake, you are welcome to add the juice of 1-2 oranges to the batter (you may want to add a bit more almond flour to compensate for the additional liquid if you do so). If you can’t find blood oranges, use the sweetest “regular” oranges you can find. Because this recipe incorporates orange zest, it’s important to use organic oranges. If you can’t find organic oranges, I strongly suggest you use a produce wash to remove chemical residues from your oranges.

Lastly, make sure you use a high quality extra virgin organic coconut oil. Organic coconut oil should have a subtle sweet coconut flavor with no “off” taste whatsoever. I’ve been using Extra Virgin Coconut Oil by Garden of Life lately and I love it. The glaze at the last step is optional, but I really like how the citrus-y coconut oil melts in and leaves the zest as a simple and pretty adornment for the top of the cake…

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This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

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Recipe for Gluten-Free Blood Orange Cardamom Cake Recipe

Adapted from my Meyer Lemon Cake Recipe (which I adapted from Molly Wizenberg's French Style Yogurt Cake).


For the cake:

  • *3 cups almond flour
  • *1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • *2 teaspoons baking powder
  • *pinch of sea salt
  • *1 tablespoon minced blood orange zest
  • *3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • *4 large eggs preferably organic and free-range
  • *1/2 cup extra virgin organic coconut oil warmed so that it is liquid

For the syrup:

  • *1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • *juice of 1 blood orange

For the optional glaze:

  • *3 tablespoons extra virgin organic coconut oil
  • *juice of 1/2 blood orange
  • *1 tablespoon minced blood orange rind


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with coconut oil, and sprinkle almond flour on the bottom of the pan.
  • 2. In a medium bowl, mix together the almond flour, ground cardamom, baking powder, and salt. Add the orange zest and mix well.
  • 3. In a large bowl, combine the maple syrup, eggs and coconut oil. Whisk well to combine. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk again to combine.
  • 4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I suggest you start checking after 25 minutes: you do not want to overbake it.
  • 5.Cool the cake for 15 minutes and then remove the sides of the pan. Place the cake (it will still be attached to the bottom of the springform) on a large plate and gently prick the cake all over with a fork. Whisk the syrup ingredients together, and then drizzle the syrup all over the cake. The syrup will seep into all those fork holes (and some will probably run out onto your plate, too- don't worry about it).
  • 6. Allow the cake to cool for another 30 minutes or so and then mix the glaze ingredients together. If the coconut oil is very hard (due to a cooler room temperature), you may want to warm it up a bit. Using a offset spatula (or a spoon), cover the top of the cake with the glaze: expect it to "disappear" into the cake leaving the zest behind.

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21 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Blood Orange Cardamom Cake”

  1. Hi Winnie! Loved this cake. Our family doesn’t “need” gluten free but I love (especially) dessert recipes that are healthier. I also just love anything almond. I brought it in to our office and it was a big hit – even after I said it was “healthy”! Yea! Do you think I could make it as light if I eliminated the baking powder and separated the eggs – mixing in the yolks and then beating the egg whites until fluffy and folding them in? THis way I could use the recipe for Passover as well!
    Thanks for a great blog.

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  3. Yay Jennifer- so glad you enjoyed it! Ground cardamom really is expensive…it’s good to hear it worked out with the cinnamon.

  4. I just made this for my family. My husband and I LOVE it. We’ve been looking for some good gluten free options and now we have one. The blood oranges I bought we not sweet, so I used organic oranges instead. And cardamom was too pricey, so cinnamon was a good substitute. I’m hoping to be able to buy some cardamom soon so I can taste it how it was made to taste. Great moisture and consistency!

  5. Hi Fuji Mama,
    I used unrefined organic coconut oil. I think it’s important that it is really high quality, so it’s fresh, because I have had the experience where coconut oil starts tasting not so good, almost soapy, if it’s not a really good brand.
    I haven’t used refined coconut oil much. I have it, but I’ve never baked with it…

  6. This looks and sounds amazing. I’m obsessed with blood oranges, and so know that I’ll be trying this cake! Do you use refined or unrefined coconut oil?

  7. WOW… how beautifully creative. I love it when culinary adventures come out looking as pretty and tasy as this. I personally love the texture the almond flecks add to this. Very nice indeed!

  8. This looks sensational, and I love the touch of cardamom, one of my favorite spices. We’re finishing up the tail end of our tangerine harvest now, and it occurs to me that this cake would be almost as good with them. Thanks so much for this recipe.

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  10. Winnie, I think I can actually taste this cake from the picture. I love how crunchy this looks. I only have chestnut flour, though. Do you think that would make the cake too heavy instead of using the almond flour? I wish I had seen this earlier, I would have made this for my friend tonight who’s got Celiac. I guess I’ll have to eat this myself! ; )

  11. Isn’t it amazing how beautiful some foods are, just as they are? But, you enjoy them as is and then you have to cook with them, too. ;-) IWhat a fabulous cake! I’m all over almond four recipes these days. And, I didn’t know that Garden of Life carried coconut oil. Thanks for the info and recipe, Winnie!


  12. This looks and sounds great – I’ve seen many versions of this cake and have thought about trying them, but I am definetly going to make this one!

  13. Aubree- thanks for the sweet comments! Sunkist now packages some specialty oranges including the gorgeous deep red “Moro” variety- not organic, but lovely and more widely available than other blood oranges perhaps…

  14. I’ve never had a blood orange; your photos are gorgeous! Isn’t nature grand? Although equally as grand is your ability to make the most amazing looking cake! Wish I could have a taste :)

  15. Thanks gluttonforlife!
    Glad you saw this post…was otherwise going to have to hunt you down to tell you about it!

  16. So excited to try this updated gluten-free version! Love your blog and your deliciously healthy approach to food (and life)!