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Almond and Soft Toffee Cake

Gluten-Free Almond Toff

By Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten-Free Cooking with Oonagh

The cake part is a recipe I have made for many years as my raspberry almond tart, and is one of my son’s favorites, so it was almost the first recipe I adapted to be gluten-free. I can still eat butter, but my son and cousin and many of you are dairy-free. I have been using more and more coconut oil as a butter substitute and prefer it. Plus, even if you can eat butter, coconut oil is a cholesterol-free alternative. The only annoying thing about coconut oil is it comes in a jar and is rock hard unless you have a very warm house. I got fed up trying to dig out hard coconut oil, so now I slowly melt the coconut oil and transfer it into a large square tub with lid, lined with foil.  Once it hardens I flipped it out and roughly cut it up into smaller pieces. Then, I weigh it when I use it, but store it in the square tub. I also just melt the coconut oil for this recipe.  It is very difficult to get coconut oil evenly soft for beating with sugar and I find it works by melting it. This cake is very dense and moist like a pound cake. The topping is also a good dairy-free caramel sauce for ice cream or other cakes. It does taste a bit coconut-y and slightly oilier than butter, but still yummy.

Cake Ingredients:

(No xanthan gum needed)

  • 3 oz. (84 g) coconut oil melted or 3/4 stick very soft butter if you can eat dairy
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz., 168 g) ordinary sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1+1/2 cup (6 oz., 168 g) of almond meal/flour slightly rounded (Blue Diamond now makes a certified gluten-free almond flour. Bob’s Red Mill and Honeyville are more expensive options.)
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) gluten-free baking powder
  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) gluten-free vanilla extract
  • Zest of an orange (optional)

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (3+1/2 oz., 95 g) light (soft) brown sugar (not packed)
  • 3 oz. (84 g) coconut oil or 3/4 stick butter
  • ¼ cup (2 oz., 60 ml) Asian-style coconut milk or heavy cream if you can eat dairy
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (170 degrees C)
  2. Place all cake ingredients in a 4 cup (1 liter) mixing bowl and beat until well blended and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes
  3. Spread mix in greased and gluten-free floured 8×8 or 1 x 9″.
  4. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes until well risen, golden brown and set, but still soft in the middle. The texture should be similar to rolls of almond paste when cut, but cooked throughout.
  5. Remove from oven.
  6. In a small saucepan, melt sugar, coconut oil, coconut milk and almonds together. The mix looks curdled, but as it melts and you stir, it comes together, looks creamy and melted oil or butter blends in and doesn’t float around on top or sides. Boil for a few minutes and it will start forming large bubbles like toffee cooking. I find now when it has cooked for a few minutes with lots of large bubbles, you then just pour it over the cake and leave it to set. Originally, I would broil it for a few minutes, but it burns rapidly and gets like crispier toffee. Just this topping alone is also a good dairy-free, caramel sauce for ice cream or other cakes. It firms up when cold in the pan but is chewy, not hard toffee.
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