• Gluten-free lemon and pistachio cake with rosewater icing (Alan Benson)Source: Alan Benson

This gluten-free and dairy-free recipe, with its subtle lemon flavour teamed with an aromatic rosewater icing and light nutty texture, is the perfect afternoon-tea cake. 






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (75 votes)

It will dip slightly in the centre due to its delicate nature but this is just a sign of how lovely and light it is.


  • light olive oil, to grease
  • 100 g (1 cup) almond meal
  • 100 g (¾ cup) raw unsalted pistachios, toasted and finely ground
  • 90 g (½ cup) instant polenta or wholegrain corn flour
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 165 g (¾ cup) caster sugar
  • 125 ml (½ cup) light olive oil
  • 1 lemon, rind finely shredded, juiced
  • extra raw unsalted pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped, to decorate
  • dried rose petals (optional), to decorate


Lemon and rosewater icing

  • 125 g (1 cup) pure icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp (about) strained fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • gluten-free pink or rose food colouring, to tint

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Cooling time: 1 hour

1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Brush a 20 cm springform cake tin with olive oil and line the base with non-stick baking paper.

2. Place the almond meal, ground pistachios, polenta and baking powder in a medium bowl and use a whisk to stir to combine and remove any lumps. Set aside.

3. Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until thick and pale and a ribbon trail forms when the whisk is lifted. Whisk in the olive oil, 2 tbsp of the lemon juice and the lemon rind.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and use a spatula or large metal spoon to fold until evenly combined. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Stand the cake in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing the sides of the tin. Set aside to cool completely.

5. To make the lemon and rosewater icing, sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl. Gradually stir in the 1 tbsp lemon juice and the rosewater until the mixture is smooth and has a thick coating consistency, adding a little more juice if needed. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

6. Drizzle the cooled cake with the icing and then sprinkle with extra pistachio nuts and dried rose petals, if using. Set aside for 30 minutes or until the icing has set before serving in wedges.


Baker’s tip

• This cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.


Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien. Food preparation by Tina McLeish. Creative concept by Belinda So.


This recipe is part of our Bakeproof: Gluten-free baking column. Read tips on how to bake with gluten-free flours and ingredients in her column - and all the recipes happen to be dairy-free.


View previous Bakeproof columns and recipes here.


Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. For hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook,TwitterInstagram and Pinterest.