Portuguese Vegan Honey, Almond and Orange Cake

This vegan Portuguese honey, almond and orange cake is zesty, delicious and bursting with flavour. The recipe is based on a Portuguese classic that has been popular for generations and with good reason. Using no refined sugars this cake instead uses agave nectar and fresh oranges for sweetness giving it a sharp, authentic taste. The result is a truly sublime vegan twist on an amazingly traditional Portuguese cake.

As with most of our recipes this Portuguese vegan cake was inspired by our travels. In Portugal we were constantly surrounded by delicious looking food but realised that Portugal is a land filled with avid fish, meat and dairy eaters. Fed up of missing out on regional specialities and traditional dishes we thought something had to change. So, we put our culinary caps on and came up with this deliciously moreish Portuguese vegan cake!

Are there any other Portuguese dishes you’d like to find a vegan version for? Tell us in the comments and we’ll see what we can do 🙂

Portuguese Vegan Honey, Almond and Orange Cake
One of the happiest fruit and veg sellers we’ve ever met – Lisbon, Portugal

Some Portuguese vegan cake history
(because it’s always nice to know about what you’re eating!)

During the 15th century monks and nuns paved the way for confectionery throughout Portugal. Surprisingly these holy folk were commonly paid by the poor with chickens and eggs. To starch their laundry they would use egg whites which meant a lot of leftover egg yolks. With a bit of creativity and a lot of time on their hands they conjured up an array of recipes to use up all the eggy leftovers. These recipes have grown world renown and have been enjoyed for centuries but unfortunately not by us vegans.

The authors of Fabrico Próprio: The Design of Portuguese Semi-Industrial Confectionery, described “These places of faith and seclusion were often true laboratories of creation, where the religious dedicated themselves to rescuing old recipes, or to testing new ingredients from all over the world.”

Looking for a vegan guide to Lisbon?

Vegan Honey, Almond and Orange Cake

Vegan Honey, Almond and Orange Cake

Vegan Honey, Almond and Orange Cake

With so many convents in Portugal, the variety of sweet treats was abundant and enjoyed across the country. Traditionally the main ingredients would be egg yolks and sugar with flour, nuts, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut and other spices that Portugal enjoyed because of trade and colonial ties.

When the Portuguese first brought sweet oranges over from India and China they were very expensive and only a luxury enjoyed by the rich. As time went on and sweet oranges became more widely available they were combined with original religious recipes creating the honey, almond and orange cake we know today.

Want to try a vegan version of the famous Portuguese caldo verde? Click here!

Portuguese Vegan Honey, Almond and Orange Cake
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Portuguese Vegan Honey, Almond and Orange Cake

Now as interesting as this may be it’s not much use to us vegans. To be blunt, Portuguese food is not “vegan friendly”, nor has it ever been and this recipe traditionally contains eggs. Never ones to miss out on a tasty treat here at Veggie Vagabonds HQ we’ve devised a super scrummy Portuguese vegan cake that is zesty, gooey and scrumptious.

This cake uses no refined sugar and instead uses agave nectar and orange for sweetness. I think it’s that much better using naturally sweet ingredients rather than processed sugar. This is also the first recipe on the blog that uses ground flax seed as an egg replacement. I’ve always been put off by the price tag but decided to try something new as it’s very good for you. The end result was a success – I am a convert and look forward to many more recipes with flax eggs.

So give this classic Portuguese vegan cake a go and let us know what you think in the comments and #veggievagabonds on social media.

Portuguese Vegan Honey, Almond and Orange Cake Recipe

  • Serves: 8 – 10 slices
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes 
  • Baking time: 1 hour

250g plain flour

100g ground almonds
4 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
5 tablespoons of ground flax seeds
10 tablespoons of water
1 cup agave nectar
rind and juice of 3 oranges
icing sugar to dust

1. Grease a baking tin, roughly 20cm, and preheat the oven to 160 degrees.
2. Make the flax eggs by mixing the ground flax seeds with the water and leave to set for about 10 minutes.
3. Blend the four, ground almonds, baking powder and salt until evenly combined.
4. Once the flax eggs have set whisk with the agave nectar, then add the orange zest and juice.
5. Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture until fully combined.
6. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake for one hour or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean. 

If you are unsure of any of the ingredients or instructions just let me know in the comments and I’ll get back to you.

Portuguese Vegan Honey, Almond and Orange Cake
Whisk all the dry ingredients until they’re fully combined
Portuguese Vegan Honey, Almond and Orange Cake
Whisk the ground flax seed with water and leave to set for 10 minutes. Once combined whisk with the agave nectar.
Portuguese Vegan Honey, Almond and Orange Cake
Add the orange zest and juice to the flax eggs and agave and combine. Then add the wet mixture to the dry mixture.
Portuguese Vegan Honey, Almond and Orange Cake
Fold the wet mixture into the dry until fully combined
Portuguese Vegan Honey, Almond and Orange Cake
Pour the mixture into a greased tin and bake
Portuguese Vegan Honey, Almond and Orange Cake
Bake until golden and dust with icing suagr to serve

Tell us what you think of this recipe in the comments below and #veggievagabonds on social media so we can see your creations!

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27 Responses

  • This post made me hungry! Loved learning about the roots and flavors of Portuguese cooking. I’m not a great cook myself, but really like the simplicity of this recipe. May have to try it!

    • Thanks Kristy 🙂 It’s a step by step guide to help guide you through and with all our recipes we try not to make them too intricate and complicated. If you do give it a go let us know what you think.

    • It’s always interesting to learn where our food comes from and the history behind cultural dishes! This recipe is perfect if you fancy something sweet and moist!

  • Wow! This looks so good! I love baking and have never tried a recipe like this so I definitely want to give it a try. I need to find some ground almonds.

    • Ground almonds can be found in most supermarkets down the baking isle! This was a new one for me too but turned out perfectly – zesty, sweet and so moist !

    • Hi Jennifer, thanks for your feedback! Let us know how you get on with a gluten free version! tag us on social media with the #veggievagabonds

  • I love orange almond cake so I’m sure I’d enjoy this alternative cake. Plus, I like that it uses natural sugars as I’m trying to cut out sugar from my diet. I’ll have to try this recipe!

  • Rather worryingly, I have all the ingredients in the house, so that could actually be appearing for dinner tonight! I’m sure I can substitute a gluten free flour blend, and it will be delicious. I’m really loving flax eggs in recipes at the moment; they seem to give everything a rather good nuttiness.

    • That’s great Bernie, keep us updated on how your gluten-free creation turns out! Yes I agree that flax eggs add a nutty flavour and good texture to a dish!

  • Yum! I love orange-flavored cakes. Honey and almonds are also wonderful additions. I didn’t know Portuguese cuisine was eggy but, since I love eggs, I suppose I’ll fall in love with it.

    • This recipe combines orange, honey and almond beautifully! Omitting the eggs makes this cake vegan for guilt free indulgence.

  • I still never quite understand how cakes turn out without eggs? ARe they light or do they become quite a dense cake? Interesting about the history of the food in this area. Having spent time in Portugal I completely understand how much they live on meat and seafood.

    • This recipe uses ground flax meal as an alternative to egg, and baking powder to help with the rise. This cake is really moist and the addition of orange gives it another dimension of juicy-ness! Try whipping up this recipe & see for yourself how an egg-less cake turns out – I think you’ll enjoy the results!

  • Although this recipe was tasty, there are a few improvements I’d suggest! There was a bit too much baking powder (I could taste it in the cake!)- I think one or two teaspoons would have done just as well. I think an extra fat source would also have been good. The texture was really light and fluffy though and it was nice to have the almonds in the cake! Thanks for the recipe.

    • Hey Lily, thanks for the feedback! I used that much in order to help with the rise, otherwise I have found the cake too dense. Shame that you were able to taste the baking powder though. Did you use heaped or level teaspoons?

      I wanted to achieve quite a light & fluffy texture with this cake which is why i opted to leave out another fat source, but what would you suggest? I would love to give a spin on this a recipe a whirl so I welcome any suggestions. Glad you enjoyed it 🙂 If you do love a dense indulgent cake check out this recipe; https://veggievagabonds.com/2018/03/31/vegan-chocolate-banana-and-peanut-butter-cake/

      • It could have been heaped, good point! I think coconut oil would work well, I’d like to give this recipe another go for sure and will report back. Thanks for the link, it looks fantastic 🙂

        • Hmm coconut oil might be good and it would add an undertone of flavour! I might give it a spin in the not too distant future. Please do report back 🙂 It’s so great to connect & swap ideas! Happy baking! xx

    • Hi Adva, thanks for your feedback. Perhaps it was too gooey as you used honey, agave is thinner than honey and the recipe accounts for this. Perhaps if you don’t want to use agave may I suggest brown rice syrup 🙂

  • I’m new to veganism and this cake looks so tempting that I might try to make this. Also I really loved Nata the Portuguese custard tart – is there any way you could replicate them?

    • Hey Misbah, welcome to the glorious world of veganism! Glad you like the look of the cake 🙂 Let me know what you think of the recipe if you give it a whirl. I have never tried making a vegan version but I am always up for a challenge. I’ll get my creative juices flowing and see what I can invent. Keep your eyes on the blog over the coming weeks and I’ll see what I can muster up.
      How long have you been vegan? I’m curious have you encountered any difficulties changing to a vegan diet? Is there anything else you’d like to see on the blog? X X

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