Ballymaloe’s Tunisian Orange Cake (Gluten Free)

Slice of Tunisian Orange Cake with thick syrup drizzled

Tunisian Orange Cake, with its citrusy zest and moist crumb, has always been a treat. But what if we told you that there’s a healthier, gluten-free version that’s just as scrumptious? Say hello to this world changing recipe from Ballymaloe Cookery School that will make the perfect make-ahead dessert or afternoon tea treat.

Lined cake tin surrounded by ingredients for baking an orange cake.
Mixing dry ingredients in the glass mixing bowl

When I went to Ballymaloe, this Tunisian Orange Cake was legendary there for several reasons. First of all, it’s delicious, which is always important in a cake, and secondly, it’s so easy. And I mean really really easy. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or Greek Yoghurt and it’s the perfect pud. But it’s also great with a cup of tea in the afternoon, but then what cake isn’t!

You don’t even have to get out a mixer to bake this cake. There’s no elbow grease required. Guys, in fact, you don’t even need to preheat the oven! It really is that easy. Plus it keeps for days (well over a week in an airtight container), if you don’t eat it all in one sitting that is.

This is one of those recipes where you read over the list of ingredients and can’t quite believe it will all come together to make a cake, but oh I promise you it will. A moist (sorry!), light, deliciously citrus-sey cake which everyone loves! You simply have to mix the ingredients together and then pour in the cake tin and bake. Whilst the cake is baking, you prepare a seriously simple sticky citrus syrup which you then pour over the cake when it comes out of the oven. The result is a deliciously flavoursome cake with the most gorgeous texture.

It is made with almond flour, so it is accidentally gluten-free, but it gives it the most delicious texture. It also accidentally dairy free, with no butter and no milk or cream! This is a crowd-pleasing cake that just happens to also cater to a range of dietary requirements.

This Gluten Free Orange Cake is going to be one to add to your usual repertoire, perfect for any occasion!

Adding eggs in the glass mixing bowl
Adding orange and lemon zest to the cake mix in the glass mixing bowl

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to use almond flour for this recipe?

In this recipe it gives the right amount of moisture and texture – if you used plain flour instead the cake would be far too heavy and possibly a bit wet. Almond flour has become a staple in many gluten-free and low-carb baking recipes, and for good reason. It’s naturally gluten-free, low in carbs, and high in healthy fats, making it a nutritious choice for any dietary restrictions – but most importantly, it tastes great and produces cakes with such a beautiful texture!

What or where is Ballymaloe?

If you aren’t familiar with Ballymaloe, it is a world-renowned culinary school, established in 1983 and situated in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland. Darina Allen, a well-known chef, cookbook author, and the Irish founder of the slow food movement, runs the school, which lies on the grounds of an organic farm. Some of its alumni include Thomasina Miers, Tara Wigley, Clodagh McKenna and Desert Island Dishes’ very own Margie Nomura! Ballymaloe have a whole host of cookbooks written primarily by Darina Allen or her mother Myrtle Allen and they all offer the real basics of cooking alongside impressive recipes but all are timeless and straightforward.

Pouring cake mix into lined cake tin
Sugar and citrus juice in the saucepan

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Ballymaloe Tunisian Orange Cake on a plate
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Ballymaloe’s Tunisian Orange Cake (Gluten Free)

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Tunisian Orange Cake, with its citrusy zest and moist crumb is a dinner party favourite — super easy to make, and it also happens to be both accidentally vegan and gluten-free!

  • Author: Margie
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: serves 810 1x
  • Category: Baking
  • Cuisine: Tunisian
  • Diet: Gluten Free



For the cake

  • 50g gluten free white breadcrumbs (if they are slightly stale, even better!)
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 200ml sunflower oil
  • 4 eggs
  • zest of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 lemon

For the citrus syrup

  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 75g sugar
  • 2 cloves (optional)
  • pinch of cinnamon or cinnamon stick


  • chopped pistachios (optional)
  • creme fraiche, to serve


  1. Line a 20cm (about 5cm deep) cake tin with baking parchment. A good tip to line the cake tin is fold a piece of parchment into four into a rough square. Fold the square diagonally, so that the two folded sides line up and you have a rough triangle shape. Fold once more in half, bring one folded side ti another so that you have a thin triangle with a point. Then line the point of the triangle up with the centre of the tin and cut the triangle along the outer curve of the tin. Unfold and you are left with a circle of parchment to fit your tin perfectly. This page is helpful if you need to visualise this part better!
  2. In a large bowl simply mix together the breadcrumbs, sugar, almonds and baking powder.
  3. Crack in the eggs and stir in the oil. Add the zest and give it a good mix.
  4. Pour into the cake tin and place into the cold oven and turn the heat up to 180C.
  5. Bake for 45 mins- 60 mins until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean. The top should be lovely and golden.
  6. Leave to cool for a few minutes before turning out on a plate – the golden top will now be on the bottom.
  7. In the meantime, you can make the syrup. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil. You want the sugar to dissolve and then carry on simmering it gently for about 3 minutes.
  8. Once the cake has baked and is still warm (not hot), turn it out onto a plate so the underside is facing up. Poke all over with a skewer and drizzle over the syrup. Check on it occasionally and you can spoon syrup that has run off the side back on top of the cake.
  9. Once it’s all been soaked up, sprinkle with chopped pistachios, cut into slices and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and an extra bit of orange zest.


Recipe originally from Ballymaloe Cookery Course: Darina Allen.

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What do you think?

February 4, 2024

Greetings! What type of breadcrumbs do you recommend? I’d love to make this luscious cake, but just curious what you prefer as the foundation with the almond flour. Thanks very much!

May 4, 2024

Hi! So sorry for the slow reply. Any breadcrumbs will work – but you want to make them fresh just by blitzing the bread in a food processor. You couldn’t use the dried kind like panko or the ones you get in a tube. xxx

April 15, 2024

Hi, the recipe doesn’t have quantity of almond flour only ground almonds .
I’m a bit confused

May 4, 2024

Hi Nicky, Sorry in the Uk we call almond flour, ground almonds. It’s the same thing! Sorry for the confusion xx

April 16, 2024

Apart from not being gluten free anymore would it change the cake if the breadcrumbs weren’t gluten free?

May 4, 2024

Hi Elaine! Not at all, use any breadcrumbs you like xx

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