I recently celebrated a birthday which is my annual cue to make a decadent layer cake.  Although the festivities were exceeded by storm Juno, baking a cake isn't a terrible way to spend your birthday for me.  I'm always looking for an excuse to do so.

This cake is one of my favorites to date, and (surprisingly) completely grain-free.  If you haven't noticed, I'm of the snacking cake kind, so it's rare for me to love a frosting lathered layer cake.  But this one isn't overly sweet, and the orange blossom water / cardamom pairing adds something special to an already tasty dessert.  Save this one for your next snow day, which around these parts, will probably be tomorrow.. 


  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot starch
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cadamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 almond milk
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 teaspoons orange blossom water
  • 1/4 cup melted ghee/coconut oil, cooled
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients (first 7).  In a separate bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients until well combined.  Using a silicon spatula, slowly fold wet ingredients into dry until batter is wet and mixed well.

Grease a 8 inch springform pan very well.  Pour in cake batter and level evenly with silicon spatula.  Place springform pan on a sheet pan and bake for 40-42 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center of the cake appears clean.  Let cool for 25 minutes.

Remove cake carefully from the springform pan, using a cake spatula to release the bottom of the cake from the pan.  Add cake to a cutting board, and cut cake evenly in half using a long serrated knife.  Set aside.


  • 1 (15oz.) can full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/3 cup toasted pistachios, chopped

Scoop out thick coconut cream from the top of the can of chilled coconut milk, and discard the clear liquid.  Add coconut milk, mascarpone, cream cheese, cream of tarter and vanilla to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Mix over medium speed, slowly adding confectioners sugar - a little at a time - until frosting is thick and well-combined.  

Swipe a bit of frosting on the cake stand or plate where you will be placing your cake (this will keep it from moving).  Add first cake layer to the pan, frost well leaving a thick layer at the top of the cake.  Add second cake layer and frost, using a cake spatula to frost evenly around to connect the two layers.  Add reserved chopped pistachio and flowers to decorate.  Keep cake in the fridge until serving.

nutmeg-spiced hazelnut cake with chocolate ganache

I recently celebrated a birthday at the end of January.  Naturally, I was reminded of all the pool parties I couldn't have as a child since my actual birthday is usually quite cold and rainy (or snowy).  There are in fact some upsides to a Winter birthday, especially if like me, you enjoy cold weather and warm, spiced desserts.  Cake made of roasted hazelnuts is definitely one of them.


Generally, I'm not really one for a real "classic" birthday cake.  I don't particularly enjoy frosting or super sugary desserts (I know, who am I?).  This cake completely seduces me, though.  I originally adapted it from Smitten Kitchen, made it gluten-free and added some freshly grated nutmeg.  If you're planning any special occasion baking anytime soon, this is a sure show-stopper.  It may even cure your childhood resentments and/or winter blues.




1 heaping cup raw hazelnuts

1/2 pound butter (or earth balance)

1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose flour

5 large egg whites (or egg replacer)

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon xanthum gum

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped fine

1/2 cup heavy cream or coconut cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roast hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 12-15 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

2.  Add butter to saucepan over low to medium heat.  Cook 6-8 minutes or until it smells nutty.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, xanthum gum, powdered sugar and nutmeg.  Add this mixture with hazelnuts to food processor or blender.  Mix a little at a time and pulse into flour.  Add flour back to bowl and set aside.

4.  Place egg white in a stand mixer and beat on high speed for 4-5 minutes or until they have stiff peaks.  (For egg replacer, do this same step, but mixture will not get as fluffy).

5.  Fold egg whites into flour mixure making sure to combine well, but not overstir.  Add to greased cake pan (bundt, layer cake, etc) and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour.  Set aside to cool.

6.  As cake cools, double broil chocolate with vanilla.  Stir mixture as the chocolate melts.  Remove from stove and let cool.  To serve, drizzle or cover entire cake with chocolate ganache.  Top with dusting of powdered sugar and freshly grated nutmeg.