Gluten-Free Almond Cake with Dates

5 from 4 votes
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Almond Cake with Dates - The cake is gluten free and requires no leavening agent, yet the cake turns out so moist and crumbly | omnivorescookbook.com

This almond cake (Djamilah) is perfect for a holiday gift. It requires very little prep time. It’s refreshing and does not taste too sweet.  It is gluten free and requires no leavening agent, yet the cake turns out so moist and crumbly.

This is an Algerian family recipe (originally called Djamilah) that my dear friend Kara sent me a while ago. She got the recipe from her Algerian friend’s mom. To quote from my friend Kara, this is a dense date cake made from almond flour. It’s crumbly, semi-sweet, and pairs well with wine or tea. I tried the recipe and immediately fell in love with it.

This is one of the easiest cake recipes ever and it produces amazing results. If you look at the ingredient list, you’ll be surprised at how simple it is. It’s also super easy to prep, too. It does not require any chopping. You simply blend the almonds, sugar, and dry fruit (dates or plums) in a food processor until it becomes a sweet almond flour. Then you mix all the liquid ingredients together, and blend in the almond flour. In the end, you beat the egg white until foaming, and fold it into the batter to create a fluffy texture. That’s it.

The amazing part is, the cake does not require yeast or baking powder at all. It does not even require a lot of butter and egg. The cake won’t rise very high in the end, but it has an amazing texture that is moist and crumbly. The dates blend into the texture and flavor so well that you probably won’t notice them at first bite.

Almond Cake with Dates - The cake is gluten free and requires no leavening agent, yet the cake turns out so moist and crumbly | omnivorescookbook.com

Kara suggested playing with other flavors in this recipe, too. So I tried replacing the dates with plums, and created a plum almond cake. Compared to the date cake, the plum cake is obviously heavier in texture and taste. I love both versions, but my husband prefers the date version. I included these two versions in the recipe below. Regardless of which one one you choose, the cake will turn out very delicious.

Almond Cake with Dates - The cake is gluten free and requires no leavening agent, yet the cake turns out so moist and crumbly | omnivorescookbook.com

I’ve been making a few batches of this cake over the past few days. Today I’m going to make another three mini cakes as Thanksgiving gifts. The cake keeps its shape very well, can be kept at room temperature for a few days, and is so delicious. If you’re looking for a simple holiday gift, definitely try this one out. If you’re making these for gifts, I suggest you use this mini loaf pan set. The pans make mini cakes that are one third the size of a normal loaf pan. It’s a perfect gift size.

This is a very versatile cake and you can play with with other ingredients. You can even skip the butter to make it a lighter cake that is just as fluffy and moist. If you made some experiments with this recipe, drop a comment below and show me your recipe. I’d love to see it 🙂

Almond Cake with Dates - The cake is gluten free and requires no leavening agent, yet the cake turns out so moist and crumbly | omnivorescookbook.com

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Gluten-Free Almond Cake with Dates

5 from 4 votes
This almond cake (Djamilah) is perfect for a holiday gift. It requires very little prep time. It’s refreshing and does not taste too sweet. It is gluten free and requires no leavening agent, yet the cake turns out so moist and crumbly.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Algerian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 3 mini loafs

Ingredients

  • 2 cups blanched almonds
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dried dates (or 2/3 cup dried plums)
  • 3 tablespoons glutinous rice flour (or tapioca starch) (*See Footnote 1)
  • 4 eggs , separated
  • 4 tablespoons butter , melt (*See Footnote 2)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (or strongly brewed tea, cooled)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • cinnamon powder (Optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Prepare three mini loaf pans (or a regular loaf pan, or a 9-inch squared baking pan) and spray a thin layer of oil into the pan. (*See Footnote 3)
  • Add almonds and 1/2 cup sugar into a blender. Pulse until fine.
  • Add dried dates (or dried plums). Blend until the dried fruit is grated into the flour. Add rice flour. Pulse a few times to mix well.
  • Combine egg yolks, vanilla, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, butter, and orange juice (or brewed tea) in a big bowl. Stir to mix well.
  • Transfer the almond flour mixture into the bowl of egg yolk mixture. Stir a few times until the liquid is just mixed in.
  • Add egg whites to a separate bowl. Whisk with a hand mixer until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Transfer to the bowl with almond mixture. Fold with a spatula until the egg whites are just incorporated. Do not overdo it.
  • Pour batter into mini loaf pans, until the pans are eighty percent filled.
  • If you're making the date flavor, sprinkle cinnamon powder on top.
  • Bake until cooked through, about 35 minutes. If you use a normal loaf pan, you will need to extend baking time. If the surface of the cake already turns brown but the cake is not cooked through yet, cover the pan with aluminum foil to prevent from burning. Use a toothpick to poke the thickest part of the cake and it should come out clean.
  • Immediately transfer the cake onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  • You can wrap the cake loosely with baking sheet if serving on the day its cooked.
  • To serve the cake later, store in an air-tight container at room temperature up to 3 days, or in fridge up to a week.

Notes

  1. Glutinous rice flour is gluten free. You can replace it with cornstarch or potato starch to make it a non-gluten-free cake too.
  2. You can skip or reduce the amount of butter. There was one time I ran out of butter and cooked this cake without it. The cake turned out just as fluffy and moist. The crust was not as crispy, but I did like its light and crumbly texture.
  3. If you cook half batch of this recipe, you can use two mini loaf pans to make shorter cakes. You should shorten the baking time, 25 to 30 minutes. If you use a big loaf pan, extend baking time, 50 to 60 minutes.
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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Nancy | Plus Ate SIx says:

    5 stars
    I really like how quickly this comes together – and I can eat dates all day long. So many good things in this cake 🙂

    • Maggie says:

      I agree I can eat this one all day long! I made a few to share during Thanksgiving and it’s a big hit! 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    This looks stunning Maggie. Absolutely stunning. And I adore that it’s gluten free. I think GF baking has a bad reputation because there are so many bad recipes out there. THIS clearly is a fabulous one.

    And your photos….erm….new camera? Lens? Amazing!

    • Maggie says:

      I don’t usually develop GF recipes since I don’t have dietary restrictions. But this one is special! It’s a great recipe (shared by my dear reader) that is happened to be gluten-free 🙂
      Nope, good ol’ camera and lens. Your snapchat videos are amazing 😉

  3. Bee says:

    Uhm … why would make cornstarch or potato starch the cake non-gluten-free? Corn and potatoes are naturally gluten-free, too. 😉

  4. Mel says:

    5 stars
    Easy and delicious. I liked the fact that the recipe it didn’t require lots of ingredients and was not full of complicated steps. Made the date version and put cinnamon sugar on top but it would be just as nice without it. Very nice cake , no variations needed. Recommended for basic cooks like me.

    • Maggie says:

      So glad to hear you tried this recipe and enjoyed it! The cake is so easy to make isn’t it? I brought them to my family during our last vacation and everyone liked it 🙂

      • Kimberley McCool says:

        Would this recipe work as muffins?

      • Maggie says:

        Hi Kimberley, I’ve never tried this recipe using muffin tins, but I think it will work. I used three very small loaf pan instead of the large one that the original recipe called, and it worked out great. Do use less baking time and keep an eye on it, since muffins cook faster.
        Happy cooking and hope your muffins turn out great!

  5. Ee Ling says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is fantastic!!! Honestly speaking I’m not a “date’ person. But these little goodies are simply too irresistible!!! Love it a lot!!
    Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Lisbeth says:

    Hi Maggie,
    The recipe looks easy and delicious; thank you! Quick question, can already made almond flour be used instead?
    Thank you,
    Lisbeth

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Lisbeth, usually you could replace the ground almond with almond flour, but you should always convert it by weight (not by cup) because 2 cups almonds yield less than 2 cups almond flour. I would weigh the almond in this recipe, then use the same weight for the almond flour (I ran out of almond at home so I couldn’t do it myself).

  7. Avy says:

    Are the almonds blanched or raw? From the pictures it looks like you have the skin on your almonds. Second question, can I substitute and use almond flour for the blanched almonds?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Avy, I used blanched almonds. You can substitute the blanched almonds with almond flour. Happy cooking!

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