Upside-Down Orange-Almond Cake with a Perfect Buttery Crumb (Gluten-Free!)

This is my very favorite gluten-free cake base. I use it all the time. I’ve made it into lovely layer cakes, Boston cream pie, perfect petit fours and every upside-down fruit cake that you can imagine. The key to its perfect tender, buttery crumb is almond flour — my secret weapon for gluten-free baking.

Almond flour is made from ground, blanched almonds, while almond meal is made from whole almonds with the skin. You can tell the difference by the color of the flour — almond flour is a buttery yellow, while the remaining skins in almond meal leave behind a brown tinge.

The sweet, light, nutty flavor is very similar in both varieties, but the texture is slightly different. The desired color and texture of the final product should determine which to use. For lighter cakes like this one, I turn to almond flour. For denser treats like brownies, I’d go for almond meal. Traditionally, almond flour is used to make French macaroons and frangipane fillings.

I don’t grind my own almond meal. I find that the homemade stuff is never fine enough and I end up with almond butter after grinding it for too long. For a better value, buy almond flour in bulk. But do keep in mind that, as with any nut, the oil in almonds can go rancid quickly. Grinding the nuts only expedites this process. Therefore it’s best to keep almond flour in the freezer.

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Samantha Seneviratne is a New York-based writer, recipe developer and food stylist. She is the author of The New Sugar and Spice (Ten Speed Press), a baking cookbook combining family stories and food history with recipes that reimagine dessert as a more balanced mix of sugar and spice. She blogs about dessert at Love, Cake.

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