This cassava, almond, and orange cake is wonderfully springy, spongy, moist, and of course cozy and delish.
It's hard to imagine a baked cake can have such a lush texture and yet be eggless (because it's vegan), grain-free and gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and also free of added oils. The cassava, almond flour, and applesauce are the magic ingredients that make it so.
I have to admit, I often neglect cassava as a baking ingredient. I know it can be a bit pricey and hard to find (though it's becoming more easily available I'm finding). It's also just not my favorite tasting go-to flour, however this particular recipe totally changed my perspective on its potential.
All I can say is the right texture in a gluten-free vegan cake can be a bit of a hard thing to achieve, but the combo of ingredients here can probably fool anyone into thinking this is quite a conventional cake. No crumbling, no dryness. Just sturdy, delicious coffee cake for the win.
Now I know there will be questions regarding substitutions for the cassava (I can hear them already as I type this out!). I have to say, I don't have the answer unfortunately as I've yet to try this specific recipe with another flour. I'm planning on it in the near future hopefully, and that happens I'll update this space.
However, that doesn't mean you can't experiment on your own. I suspect another flour should probably work fine, maybe a combination of a gluten-free flour and a bit of tapioca starch, for example, or just all purpose flour if you're not gluten-free. I can't guarantee results of course, as this is a hypothetical suggestion, however I do expect a full report in the comments below on how you went with it if you give a substitute flour a try here! :)
Now, if it's almonds (and not cassava) you're trying to swap out, you're in luck, because that's quite a simple substitution. Feel free to use another nut flour instead, like cashew, or hazelnut, or sunflower seed flour for example. Just keep in mind the flavor might be slightly altered, but shouldn't be a biggie with most nuts or seeds.
If you can't easily find alternate nut flours at the shops, you can always easily make your own. I cover how to do that in Unconventional Treats, if interested.
And of course, use some sliced or chopped alternate nuts of your choice for the topping.
Lastly, I just wanted to mention the orange flavor can be easily swapped for another flavor of your choice. For example you could add a tiny amount of espresso powder to this cake, or use fresh orange rind instead of the extract, or use other warming spices, etc.
P.S. 1. In case you're interested in making your own applesauce for this cake, here's an oldie recipe from the blog. Besides, then you can make these applesauce muffins next ;)
P.S. 2. This recipe works well as muffins or in a bread loaf, if you prefer.Print
Cassava Almond Orange Cake
A moist, spongy, and cozy cassava almond and orange cake. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Yield: 6" cake
- Category: Cake
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Vegan, Grain-Free
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 1 cup almond flour
- ½ cup cassava flour
- 3 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 10 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp orange extract
- ½ tsp almond extract
- a few handfuls sliced almonds
- optional: coconut milk powder for dusting
1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Oil a 6" round cake pan (or a dish of a similar size, approximately 4 cups volume). Line the bottom with a circle of parchment (optional, helps the cake come out easier). Set aside.
2. Process all dry ingredients in a food processor to combine. Add all wet ingredients and process to combine once again. Transfer this mixture into the prepared pan. Top with slices of almond (press them in very lightly).
3. Bake in a pre-heated oven for approximately 1 hour, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out dry.
4. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 10-20 mins, then remove the cake from the pan* and allow it to cool further on the wire-rack. Enjoy fresh and warm or allow it to cool all the way and enjoy later. Prior to serving you can dust it with a bit of coconut milk powder if you like.
*To flip the cake out, the easiest way to do this is to cover the pan with a plate, then holding the plate and the pan together flip them over (so that now the pan is sitting upside-down on the plate). Carefully remove the pan -- the cake should be upside-down on the plate at this stage. Peel off the parchment paper circle (if you used one). Cover the cake with a serving plate, then flip the two plates upside-down and remove the top plate. The cake should now be sitting un-molded upon your serving plate.
Keywords: Cassava Almond Orange Cake (Vegan, Grain-Free, Oil-Free)
The cake was delicious; however, the center of the cake collapsed. Why would that happen?
Hi Jeanie. How "collapsed" are we talking? :) Is it lightly but evenly sunken as seen in the photos above? If so, that's normal for this cake. If you mean it's really sunken down the center, then usually that happens if the cake hasn't baked through long enough. Sometimes oven temperatures vary from oven to oven, so you might need to bake it for longer to make sure the center is baked through. A third possibility might be if you made any substitutions to the ingredients that didn't work out exactly as the original (not sure if you have, just mentioning it as a possibility). I'm glad you were still able to enjoy the cake though!
I made this cake exactly as directed and it was delicious. I have also made the raw beach cheesecake and the raw lemon lime cheesecake which were both great.
Jennifer, thank you so much for the great feedback. I'm glad you're enjoying working your way through the recipes :)
Made these as muffins and they were surprisingly moorish. I used green tea/matcha powder (2 tsp) instead of almond/orange essence and cinnamon. Left out coconut sugar as suggested. These tasted great, lovely texture and not too sweet...super healthy and tasty. Need to oil the cases so that the mix doesn't stick. Thank you for the recipe and the apple puree tip :-)))))
Hi Ange, thanks so much for the lovely feedback and for sharing your tweaks. So glad you made this recipe work for you! :)
I just made this for my 50th birthday and it was amazing! I tweaked it a little. I doubled it and used a 9x11 baking pan. Also I used double the vanilla and maple extract instead of orange. I added a douse of nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and a pinch of cloves. Dusted powdered sugar on top. It was like a super moist gingerbread! Everyone loved it!
Martienne, that sounds incredible! Now I'm going to have to try your tweaks next time I make this cake :) Happy birthday! And thanks so much for the feedback.
Donna Nielsen says
This is one of my absolute favorite cakes. I have made it numerous times, and both vegans and non vegans love it. I once accidentally omitted the coconut sugar and found I liked the less sweeter version even better. Either way, it is delicious and has the most perfect texture.
Hi Donna, thanks so much for the lovely feedback. I'm glad to hear the recipe has been working well, and also thanks for sharing that tidbit about no coconut sugar -- I'm sure some people reading these comments will want to take that idea out for a spin sometime :)
Does this cake rise? I'm trying to make a first birthday cake for my son and traditionally we use a lamb tin. He cannot have grains or eggs so I'm struggling to find a cake recipe! We haven't introduced cassava yet, but it's on the list for the next week.
Hi Mariah, yes this cake does rise a bit. I've never tried it in an intricate pan, but I suspect it should work fine in a lamb shaped pan. I'd try it out ahead of time though to be sure.
Here's another baked cake that's grain-free and egg-free that might work as an alternative: https://www.unconventionalbaker.com/almond-rosemary-pine-cake-gluten-free-grain-free-dairy-free-refined-sugar-free/
I hope you land on something that works either way. Happy birthday to your little one and good luck with the cassava trial!
Pat Lesniowski says
Absolutely so good! Most of the cakes I've tried using almond flour have turned out tasting the same. This was so moist and tasty that hubby said, this is a real keeper. Thank you for this awesome yet easy recipe. I am new to using these different flours so you gave me a recipe I can serve to anyone!
Hi Pat. Thanks so much for your comment. I'm so glad you both enjoyed the cake so much! :)
Brandee Hash says
I was wondering what food processor you use. I've been using a small ninja, but I really need something with a larger capacity. I want your recommendation since you use it for seeds and nuts just like I would do!
I wish I could find one that is a glass bowl and still can process nuts and seeds...
Hi Brandee. I use a Breville Sous Chef these days. You can see more info about why here: https://www.unconventionalbaker.com/baking-resources/ (and there's a link there to the exact model). You can also see it in pretty much all my recipe videos so can get a visual feel for it https://www.youtube.com/c/UnconventionalBaker .
I really love it, but that said I think there are other good processors out there so my advice is to not feel limited. I find a good power blender to be more important than a high end processor. And honestly when I make quick small things I'll still go and use a tiny kitchenaid one instead since it's lighter and quicker to clean, although the results are obviously not as optimal, but sometimes that doesn't matter too much. That said the bigger processor, like this Breville, comes in handy for lots of stuff for cooking and baking (like if you make veggie burgers or sauce, etc.) + I like that it has a smaller cup insert, so can make big batch and small batch things with ease. It also makes things like nut butters with ease (compared to cheaper processors I've used before). So pros and cons to investing. If you decide to go for a higher end one I can definitely recommend this Breville model. It's very sturdy and dependable.
Hi Audrey! I'm planning to make this to take to work but am tight on time. If I make it 2 days ahead, do you think it'll be okay? I was also planning on adding a syrup on the day and perhaps a vegan orange flavoured buttercream. Thanks! Cassandra
Hi Cassandra, I suspect it should be fine for 2 days, although I usually find cakes are best when fresher as they have a tendency to dry out a bit if left out too long. The buttercream and syrup sound wonderful!
I’d like to change the orange extract for real orange zest or orange juice and the vanilla extract for the real vanilla. Would that come out ok? How much do you think should I add of each?
Hi Paula, I think it should come out great. Given that I haven't tried it though, I'm not sure of exact quantities, so you'd need to work that part out on your own to your taste. So much depends for example on the vanilla product you use. Is it raw ground vanilla? paste? whole pod? etc. They each have varying strengths of flavor.
Hi Audrey ! Would like to know if I wish to use coconut sugar in the recipe instead of a liquid sweetener, can I tweak the recipe slightly - like add more oil in the recipe or increase the amount of applesauce or simply add more water ? I don’t prefer a liquid sweetener as a good quality honey or maple syrup turns out quite expensive.
Looking forward to hear from you.
Thanks a bunch !
Hi Ritika. I haven't tried making this with coconut sugar / dry sugar so far, but I think if I were to experiment a little I'd go about it just as you suggested. If you give it a go, let me know how it turned out. I'd be very interested to hear.
What can I substitute the almond flour w? Nut and seed allergy at home 😢
Hi Connie, I would have said some other kind of seed flour for "nut-free", but since you have a household free from both, to be honest I'm not sure there is a substitute for this specific recipe. I do however have a few baked chocolate cake recipes on the blog that are nut-free. Here are a few recipes, hopefully one of these will work :)
This looks like a wonderful recipe I'm eager to try! I don't usually have applesauce, am allergic to apples. Can I use oil instead? and is there a preference of which type? (coconut oil, ghee, butter, sunflower oil are what I usually have at home). Thank you!
Hi Nikita. Interesting question. I've not tried baking this with oil instead of applesauce, so to be honest I'm not 100% sure what the outcome would be. If you give it a try let me know how it turns out :) If I had to guess, it might just work, and if I had to pick an oil I'd go with something like sunflower since it's the most mild, or even vegan butter (because it makes everything better ;) ). A closer substitute however would be something like pear sauce, banana puree, maybe even pumpkin or sweet potato puree (though flavors might need to be adjusted a bit since some of these things have different sweetness levels).
you could make that cake even more "orange", using orange purée, which is whole cooked and blended organic oranges, just like applesauce ( I boil the complete fruit, even the peel). I use this orange purée in several recipe instead of applesauce in winter. Give it a try!
Oh that sounds so good. Will definitely try that out sometime. Thanks for sharing!
Amal Biggers says
Hello, can I double the recipe?
Hi Amal, I haven't tried making a larger version of this, but I suspect it should work fine. You can also make two 6" cakes if you don't have time for baking experiments though. If you do double, just keep an eye out on the baking time towards the end as it might need to bake a little longer potentially.
Wonderful recipe! Made into donuts and they were a hit! My daughter who has been having a rough time being gluten-free, vegan, and refined sugar-free devoured it- thank you!!
I'm so happy to hear that, Teju! Thanks for the lovely feedback :) Made my day!
I am excited to try this for my birthday as I have just found out. am intolerant to so many things. Do you think I could sub lemon extract for the orange extract? I suspect it wouldn't make a difference, but I have no real experience in the baking world so I just wanted some input! Thanks so much!
Hi Elycia, yeah absolutely. I think it would be nice with lemon flavor too :)
I made this cake a couple times now. It is really amazing how moist and delicious it turned out.
I made it again this morning and I decided to add some blueberries to it. I did added blueberries but I forgot to put maple syrup. And still it turned out delicious. I personally liked it without maple syrup, but my husband preferred a sweeter cake, so I use the maple butter as a frosting.
Hi Valenta. Thank you so much for the lovely feedback -- so glad you're enjoying this cake, and love those variations :)
Ibtisam Ibrahim says
What is the alternative to cassava flour?
You can try regular all purpose flour, or a good gluten-free flour mix, if you prefer. I haven't tested those out, but I believe they should work well here if you're willing to experiment a little :)
hi audrey - i’d like to bake this in an 8” round (i want to make 2 or 3 thinner layers for a simple layer cake) - how long of a bake time would you suggest?
Hey gf. I think it'll probably still be close to an hour. However I'd start keeping an eye on it around the 45-50 min mark, if things seem ready (it's no longer rising, the top is nice and golden, looks solid, etc.) you can do the skewer test (poke it in the center carefully and see if it comes out dry).
This cake looks beautiful! What make it so moist? As whenever I try to bake it never come out like this :(
Hi Mia, it's the combination of flours + applesauce and maple syrup for moisture.
Try this recipe out without substitutions and I'm sure it'll be moist and fluffy :)
The cake looks lovely, I gonna look for cassava flour to try this! Oh and, do you think it's okay to use homemade pumpkin paste instead of applesauce? Thanks!
I wondered that too. Was going to pick up some pumpkin next week to give a pumpkin version a try :) Great minds ;)
I suspect it'll be great here. I suspect it might rise more in the center as it bakes. I find that with applesauce the cake comes out flatter than with other things I've tried so far (which is not a bad think -- I think the cake looks great with a flat top -- but just something to be aware of in case you get a more domed cake with the pumpkin). You might need to adjust the flavors of the batter a little to taste too (in terms of saltiness, spice levels, sweetness levels). Let me know how you go with it and what you ended up using if you give it a try. Would love to hear what worked for you.