Cannellini bean cake

Cannellini bean cake

When I suggested to my gluten and dairy-free friend that I was planning on making her and her gluten and dairy-free son a cake made out of cannellini beans, she gave me a bit of a strange glance and changed the conversation. But it didn’t put me off giving it a go.

While a cake made from a tin of beans doesn’t sound the most appetising thing in the world, said friend has, since eaten it, realised that a bean cake is actually a rather ingenious idea. Not only is it dead simple to make, it tastes good and is the perfect way to get a bit of beany goodness into three fussy boys (the boy and his pals) without them realising!

This cake is yet another great bake from the wonderful Anna Jones and her newest book a modern way to cook.

The cake itself if pretty easy to make  – there’s no creaming butter and sugar together, you simply whizz up the beans, some honey and vanilla seeds in a blender, fold in ground almonds, baking powder and melted coconut oil, add a pinch of salt and bake.

Anna’s recipe calls for a lemon icing made with silken tofu, lemons, honey and orange blossom water. I opted to skip the icing as we were meeting the gluten and dairy-free friends in the park and wanted them to sample the cake they’d previously had tried to avoid.

It’s no wonder Anna decided to call it her amazing lemon cannellini cake – it really is quite spectacular. It’s quite dense, but exceedingly moist and I’m sure the lemon icing would take it to another level. As it was, three hungry boys and their mums ate it rather quickly.

The verdict from the gluten and dairy-free friend: ‘That’s delicious. Can I have the recipe please, I’ll definitely be making that!’

The verdict from the boy’s friends: They ate the lot in record time and wanted more… I think you’d call that a successful bake.

Recipe taken from Anna Jones’ book a modern way to cook


For the cake

  • 2 x 400g tins of cannellini beans
  • 150ml set honey
  • the seeds from 1 vanila pod
  • 4 free-range or organic eggs
  • lOOg ground almonds
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
  • 1oog melted coconut oil
  • a good pinch of sea salt

For the lemon Icing

  • 200g silken tofu
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • the juice and zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 2 tablespoons set honey
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water


Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas. Get all your ingredients together, and grease and line a 2 cm spring-form cake tin. Drain the cannellini beans.

In a food processor blitz the drained beans, honey and vanilla seeds until smooth, then add the eggs one by one, pulsing as you go. Tip the whole lot into a mixing bowl and gently fold in the ground almonds, baking powder, melted coconut oil and a pinch of salt. The batter maybe a little looser than you’d expect from a cake batter, but don’t worry.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30-40 minutes. The cake is ready when it is golden brown on top, firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean.

For the icing, put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until very smooth and shiny, scraping down the sides from time to time if you need to. This will take about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and pop into the fridge to set while the cake is cooking and cooling.

Once the cake has had its time, take it out of the oven, leave it to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then cool completely on a rack.

Once cool, top with the icing and either grate over more lemon zest or finish with the candied lemon.


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