Orange, Almond and Poppy Seed Cake – Grain, Gluten and Sugar Free Option

This modification of gluten free orange, almond and poppy seed cake was created to accommodate specific dietary requirements of our family friend. The cake had to be completely gluten and grain free, had to be made without sugar and use organic ingredients where possible. It was the first time I used honey in orange and almond cake batter. I also had to find an ingredient to replace granulated sugar to make cake crust without polenta or any other flour option. I managed to overcome these limitations and I was told, the cake was a success.


Ingredients: for 19 cm springform pan

  • 200g cooked organic orange puree (one whole medium organic orange)
  • 60g (3 table spoons) poppy seeds
  • 150g almond meal, sifted
  • 150g organic honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 table spoon white chia seeds, ground
  • unsalted butter to grease baking pan
  • sliced almonds for decoration
  • organic candied orange peel and glaze for decoration (optional)


  • organic orange puree was prepared the same way I cook and blend oranges to make orange puree, an orange is thoroughly washed, cooked for 1 hour in simmering water, cut in quarters, cooled and processed to make coarse puree. I used frozen and defrosted orange puree for this cake
  • grease sides and bottom of springform baking pan with unsalted butter
  • grind chia seeds in a small cup blender or coffee grinder as fine as possible
  • use ground chia seeds to dust sides of springform pan

Chia seeds act like a sponge and absorb water very quickly. When using them to dust the pan, make sure that you apply them evenly. They stick to butter and it is difficult to shake them of and redistribute the powder to uncovered surfaces. Dusting with ground chia is not the same process as dusting with sugar or any other flour, when you can apply sugar or flour to the surface, shake the excess of and end up with nice and even layer of the dusting agent. I do not have the actual photo of springform dusting, I will use another one of the same process when chia was applied to mini loaf bread pan.


  • beat eggs with honey using benchtop mixer for 10 min on high speed (whipping mode)

It was the first time I used honey to whip eggs. I was afraid that the process might be very different to using sugar, but it was not. The mixture more than doubled in size and became pale and thick. It was a relief. I did not try, but I am sure similar results can be achieved with hand-held mixer. Try not to use wide bowls. Beating only 2 eggs gives better results sooner when they are beaten in deep bowls with small diameter.

  • add orange puree and just mix it in on lower speed (1 minute or less, beating mode) until fully incorporated, do not overmix
  • sift almond meal
  • fold in almond meal into the mixture by hand using spatula
  • add poppy seeds and mix them in
  • pour the batter into prepared and dusted cake pan, gently shake the pan to level cake batter
  • bake starting in cold fan forced oven set to 170 degrees C, as soon as temperature reaches 170 degrees (approximately 15 min) reset the oven to 160 degrees and continue baking for another 40-45 min.

This is necessary because cakes, based on batters using honey, brown and burn faster and usually have to be baked at slightly lower temperatures for a longer period of time. I forgot that, and faced the situation when cake top and sides were ready and could be burned if baking continued, while the center of the cake was not completely done. That is why the middle of the cake is just a touch lower compared to cake perimeter. It always happens with almond and orange cakes during resting on wire rack. If the middle is not completely done and dry, it sinks a little or a lot, depending on moisture content in cake batter.

  • leaving the cake without springform sides in still warm oven which is turned off can help to avoid sinking of cake center
  • rest orange cake on a wire rack until completely cool
  • decorate with available to you options, I used my own organic candied orange peel made with organic honey and lemon juice from our own lemons


The next day this cake was safely delivered and the feedback I received was very positive. My husband had a chance to make a photo of already cut cake three days after and as far as I can see, sugar replacement with honey did not alter cake’s texture. I was happy with the crust. It was a touch darker because of honey, but still had a nice and even surface. I can suspect that without chia dusting it could have been even darker, but I did not try that, so I can’t be 100% sure.


Overall, I am happy with the result, the only mistake I made was forgetting to lower baking temperature, which resulted in not completely level and flat surface of the cake. Orange peel and glazing helped me to hide it and not to be too prominent in cake appearance.


I am also delighted to discover that honey can be used to make any cake based on beaten eggs batter without any complications. It was also handy in allowing me to avoid the use of any baking powder, even gluten free, because they still have rice or any other grain flour as an ingredient. I never add baking soda to cakes or biscuits if I can help it. I can taste bicarbonate even in low concentrations and it spoils everything in the final product for me. This cake is another proof that batter cakes can rise very nicely without any rising agents, if eggs are properly beaten and batters are not overmixed.







4 thoughts on “Orange, Almond and Poppy Seed Cake – Grain, Gluten and Sugar Free Option

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