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Alternative to Ground Almonds Nuts

Asked by Piper121. Answered on 21st October 2012

Full question

My husband and son are both allergic to nuts - what can I use in cakes in place of ground almonds to give the same type of texture? I have tried flour in many recipes and it doesn't seem to work properly. Thanks.

As many of Nigella's recipes contain nuts (eg the pesto with almonds and the pudding with hazelnuts in the recent TV show), is there anything that could be used instead for those with a nut allergy? It seems a shame to miss out on what seems a very easy recipe. Is it possible for a footnote at the end of the recipes in future to give alternatives for nut allergy sufferers? It seems that the current trend is to put nuts in everything so surely there must be a general ingredient to offer crunch without anaphylaxsis!

Our answer

Quite often ground almonds are used in cakes to add moisture and sometimes to give a gluten free cake suitable for coeliacs, instead of one made with wheat flour. If you are substituting the ground almonds with another ingredient then you really need to consider how much of the cake is made up by nuts. If it is a large amount then it is unlikely that a successful subtitute will be found.

Some people suggest breadcrumbs, ground rice or semolina as possible substitutes, but again the result will very much vary according to the individual recipe so each recipe would have to be individually adjusted and tested accordingly. However Nigella's website has plenty of cake recipes which are nut free.

Nigella's Chocolate Olive Oil Cake in Nigellissima is made with ground almonds but this particular recipe does have an alternative using flour. You can substitute 125g plain flour for the 150g ground almonds. The recipe, and the alternative, are available on the BBC website with other recipe featured in NIgellissima.

For the Chocolate Hazelnut cheesecake you could try using just a milk chocolate spread rather than the Nutella, and omit the hazelnuts from the base and topping of the cheesecake. However we would empasise that we have not tested this and so cannot vouch for the results.

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