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For a reliably moist cake, the French use plenty of almonds and rum
Milk Street Bowtie French Almond-Rum Cake (Gâteau Nantais)

French Almond-Rum Cake (Gâteau Nantais)

3¼ hours 25 minutes active

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French Almond-Rum Cake (Gâteau Nantais)

Free

Gâteau Nantais originated in Nantes in western France. Made with generous amounts of butter, eggs and almond flour, the cake’s crumb is rich, moist and pleasantly dense, and becomes even more so after it’s brushed with a rum syrup. The classic finish is a rum icing, but with rum already in both the cake and syrup, we opted instead for a bracing lemon glaze that brings out the lemon zest in the cake, and a sprinkle of toasted sliced almonds. You can serve the cake as soon as the glaze sets, but its flavor and texture improve if allowed to rest overnight at room temperature. If storing for longer, cover and refrigerate (up to three days), but bring to room temperature before serving. If you have a dark, non-stick cake pan—which transfers heat more quickly than lighter aluminum—reduce the temperature to 325°F and bake for the same time.

12

Servings

Tip

Don’t use a small saucepan to make the syrup, and don’t forget to remove the pan from the burner before pouring in the rum. These steps help ensure that the alcohol won’t ignite. After removing the cake from the pan, don’t re-invert it—leave it bottom side up, as the perfectly flat surface is easy to glaze. Finally, don’t allow the cake to cool before brushing on the syrup; absorption is better if the cake is still hot.

3¼ hours

25 minutes active

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan
6 large eggs
300 grams (1⅓ cups) white sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
250 grams (2½ cups) almond flour
¼ teaspoon table salt
80 grams (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons dark rum
38 grams (3 tablespoons) white sugar
1 tablespoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
½ cup dark rum
186 grams (1½ cups) powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more if needed
47 grams (½ cup) sliced almonds, toasted
For the cake
  • 16

    tablespoons (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan

  • 6

    large eggs

  • 300

    grams (1⅓ cups) white sugar

  • 2

    tablespoons grated lemon zest

  • 250

    grams (2½ cups) almond flour

  • ¼

    teaspoon table salt

  • 80

    grams (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour

  • 6

    tablespoons dark rum

For the rum syrup
  • 38

    grams (3 tablespoons) white sugar

  • 1

    tablespoon whole allspice

  • 1
  • ½

    cup dark rum

For the lemon glaze and garnish
  • 186

    grams (1½ cups) powdered sugar

  • ¼

    teaspoon table salt

  • 3

    tablespoons lemon juice, plus more if needed

  • 47

    grams (½ cup) sliced almonds, toasted

Directions
  1. 01
    To make the cake, heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, beat the eggs.
    See Demo
    french-almond-rum-cake-gâteau-nantais-1
  2. 02
    In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, white sugar and lemon zest on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the almond flour and salt, then beat on medium just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. With the mixer running, gradually add the eggs and beat until homogenous, scraping the bowl as needed. Increase to medium-high and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the all-purpose flour and mix until incorporated, then slowly add the rum and beat just until combined. Scrape the bowl to ensure no pockets of flour or rum remain. The batter will be thick.
    See Demo
    french-almond-rum-cake-gâteau-nantais-2
  3. 03
    Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, then spread in an even layer and smooth the surface. Bake until deep golden brown and the center of the cake springs back when gently pressed, 50 to 55 minutes.
    See Demo
    french-almond-rum-cake-gâteau-nantais-3
  4. 04
    Meanwhile, to make the rum syrup, in a large saucepan combine the white sugar, ⅓ cup water, allspice and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over medium-high, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then boil for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum. Bring to a simmer over medium and cook for 2 minutes. Pour the mixture though a fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl; discard the solids and set the syrup aside.
    See Demo
    french-almond-rum-cake-gâteau-nantais-4
  5. 05
    When the cake is done, let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto another wire rack; do not re-invert. Immediately brush the top and sides of the cake with all of the rum syrup. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Transfer the cooled cake to a platter.
    See Demo
    french-almond-rum-cake-gâteau-nantais-5
  6. 06
    To make the lemon glaze, in a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and salt, then gradually whisk in the lemon juice; the glaze should be smooth, with the consistency of yogurt. If it is too thick, whisk in additional lemon juice ½ teaspoon at a time to attain the proper consistency.
    See Demo
    french-almond-rum-cake-gâteau-nantais-6
  7. 07
    Pour the glaze onto the center of the cake, then use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the glaze toward the edges, allowing just a small amount to drip down the sides. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Let stand at room temperature to set the glaze, about 1 hour.
    See Demo
    french-almond-rum-cake-gâteau-nantais-7
Tip: Don’t use a small saucepan to make the syrup, and don’t forget to remove the pan from the burner before pouring in the rum. These steps help ensure that the alcohol won’t ignite. After removing the cake from the pan, don’t re-invert it—leave it bottom side up, as the perfectly flat surface is easy to glaze. Finally, don’t allow the cake to cool before brushing on the syrup; absorption is better if the cake is still hot.
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Reviews
Sharon L.
June 2, 2022
Crowd favorite
This gateau was a huge favorite at a birthday party. The flavors are excellent and the cake is light and so moist with a perfect crumb. I’ve made it a few more times.
Bill O.
May 30, 2022
Delicious
Wonderful combination of flavors
Renee S.

Hello,
My daughter, home from college, made this cake on Christmas day for our dinner that evening. Is the amount of salt in the glaze correct? No one at our table found it edible. It that a mistake? Shouldn't it be a pinch of salt?

Renee Shannon

Michaela H.

I agree with Renee. Seems like a pinch of salt would be more than enough to cut the sweet and bring out flavor.

Janelle C.

Hi Renee,

The amount is correct. Feel free to adjust to your taste, but in the future make sure you're using kosher salt. Different salt varietals will alter the taste.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Nancy J.

The recipe says to use table salt in the cake as well as the glaze, but here you are saying to be sure to use kosher salt in the glaze. Which is correct? Also, I've never baked with salted butter before and I'm surprised to see it called for in this cake. Is there a reason you used it for this recipe?

Lynn C.

Hi Nancy -

We recently changed all of our baking recipes to call for table salt rather than kosher salt as the variation in grain size among brands was causing inconsistent results in the recipes. This comment by Janelle predates that change so the amount of table salt called for in the recipe is correct. We always call for salted butter in all of our recipes. We’ve done our homework and after testing salted versus unsalted butter in a number of savory and baking recipes, we didn’t find any measurable difference between the two. The small amount of salt in salted butter is undetectable when cooked or baked in a recipe, we found. Still, we have a preference between the two. Though most culinary professionals and publications will recommend using unsalted butter, we prefer the salted kind because it tastes better when you’re not cooking with it. Unsalted butter doesn’t cut it on toast! Since we prefer to stick with one kind, salted butter is our choice.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Lynn C.

Hi Nancy -

We recently changed all of our baking recipes to call for table salt rather than kosher salt as the variation in grain size among brands was causing inconsistent results in the recipes. This comment by Janelle predates that change so the amount of table salt called for in the recipe is correct. We always call for salted butter in all of our recipes. We’ve done our homework and after testing salted versus unsalted butter in a number of savory and baking recipes, we didn’t find any measurable difference between the two. The small amount of salt in salted butter is undetectable when cooked or baked in a recipe, we found. Still, we have a preference between the two. Though most culinary professionals and publications will recommend using unsalted butter, we prefer the salted kind because it tastes better when you’re not cooking with it. Unsalted butter doesn’t cut it on toast! Since we prefer to stick with one kind, salted butter is our choice.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

William H.

1 unit of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt = ¾ unit Morton Kosher Salt = ½ unit of table salt. I believe that Milk Street uses Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt in their recipes. So, ½ teaspoon of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt would convert to ⅜ teaspoon of Morton Kosher Salt, or ¼ teaspoon of table salt. Hope this helps.

Nancy J.

The recipe says to use table salt in the cake as well as the glaze, but here you are saying to be sure to use kosher salt in the glaze. Which is correct? Also, I've never baked with salted butter before and I'm surprised to see it called for in this cake. Is there a reason you used it for this recipe?

Lynn C.

Hi Nancy -

We recently changed all of our baking recipes to call for table salt rather than kosher salt as the variation in grain size among brands was causing inconsistent results in the recipes. This comment by Janelle predates that change so the amount of table salt called for in the recipe is correct. We always call for salted butter in all of our recipes. We’ve done our homework and after testing salted versus unsalted butter in a number of savory and baking recipes, we didn’t find any measurable difference between the two. The small amount of salt in salted butter is undetectable when cooked or baked in a recipe, we found. Still, we have a preference between the two. Though most culinary professionals and publications will recommend using unsalted butter, we prefer the salted kind because it tastes better when you’re not cooking with it. Unsalted butter doesn’t cut it on toast! Since we prefer to stick with one kind, salted butter is our choice.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Lynn C.

Hi Nancy -

We recently changed all of our baking recipes to call for table salt rather than kosher salt as the variation in grain size among brands was causing inconsistent results in the recipes. This comment by Janelle predates that change so the amount of table salt called for in the recipe is correct. We always call for salted butter in all of our recipes. We’ve done our homework and after testing salted versus unsalted butter in a number of savory and baking recipes, we didn’t find any measurable difference between the two. The small amount of salt in salted butter is undetectable when cooked or baked in a recipe, we found. Still, we have a preference between the two. Though most culinary professionals and publications will recommend using unsalted butter, we prefer the salted kind because it tastes better when you’re not cooking with it. Unsalted butter doesn’t cut it on toast! Since we prefer to stick with one kind, salted butter is our choice.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Marybeth R.

Needs more rum syrup. We made this for Christmas and while the flavor was good, the cake was a bit dry. We made it again last night and increased the amount of rum to 2/3 c and and water somewhat, kept the spices the same. The cake was appreciably moister and more delicious. With these adjustments, this will become our special occasion go-to dessert.

John B.

Hello Marybeth - in your comment, you write "2/3 c and and water somewhat." As I want to take your suggestion, may I ask what you had intended to say there? Thanks so much!

Sara S.

I replaced the regular flour with coconut flour and switched orange instead of lemon. My family loved it.

Rachel H.

We made this cake following the recipe exactly and it was moist and delicious. The lemon glaze was perfect. We will be making this cake again very soon.

Andrew G.

I made this cake gluten-free for my wife for Valentine's Day. It was fantastic. In my recent quarantine shopping, I made a purchase, which has me asking would Meyer lemons works in this cake?

Rajat S.

i am thinking of making this for a friend who is allergic to Gluten and dairy. Is there a frosting you could suggest for this

Janelle C.

Hi Rajat,

The glaze is both gluten- and dairy-free.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Jane S.

Made this recipe for a dinner party and it was a smash hit...not a drop left to enjoy at a later date. Will definitely do it again and the recipe was perfect...no changes were necessary!

Sarah R.

Struggling with this cake collapsing in the middle after the syrup is applied. Also, the glaze was too runny and ended up mostly absorbing into the cake. Will give this another try, I guess.

Lynn C.

Hi Sarah -

Was the cake fully baked when you applied the syrup? Since baking times can vary, we always recommend following the visual clue (in this case, "bake until the cake is deep golden brown and the center of the cake springs back when gently pressed") rather than the baking time. For the glaze, did you ensure that the cake was room temperature before adding it? I have always found that the glaze is actually quite thick so it's possible that the cake was too hot when you added it. Hope that helps for next time.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

William H.

I know that "regular" rum comes in a light or dark version (which I do not already have). I do, however, have some Captain Morgan's Original Spiced Rum. Has anyone tried this instead? Should I omit or reduce the allspice and peppercorns since the rum is already spiced? Your thoughts, Milk Street?

Lynn C.

Hi William -

I would definitely cut back on the allspice and black peppercorns since spiced rum is already pretty heavily flavored with these spices.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Leslie L.

My wife is Russian and has Celiac's. She doesn't often get to eat desserts. I used cassava flour instead of wheat flour (cassava is my go to). My wife told me this is the BEST almond/rum cake she has ever tasted.

Lee R.

can this be made with all almond flour?

April D.

Lee - yes, this cake can be made exclusively with almond flour, though it will be a bit more dense that with the small added amount of all-purpose flour. That's okay - the cake is meant to be rich and dense! If the goal is to make the cake gluten-free, you could also use a 1:1 GF baking blend in place of the 80 grams of AP flour, or experiment with adding a second GF flour (like the cassava that Leslie experimented with above).

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Deborah L.

Hi! I live in Denver, Colorado (altitude is 5280 ft). What adjustments do I need to make to the recipe? I have made other almond cake, and the cake collapses in the middle. Thank you.

Lynn C.

Hi Deborah -

We haven't tested this at high altitude so we can't give you specific recommendations for this particular recipe. King Arthur Flour has some good tips on how to change recipes at high altitude which you can find here - https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/learn/resources/high-altitude-baking. Good luck!

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Sarah W.

I live at 7000’ and made this recipe without modifications and it came out very nice. I went with the stock recipe because this cake doesn’t require baking powder or baking soda and thus appears to have a simpler baking chemistry. I was concerned that the semi-high speed egg mixing would result in a fallen cake but my concerns were unfounded. I ended up with an awesomely moist cake that didn’t fall.

Deborah L.

Thank you for your comment! Your comment is currently under moderation and will appear shortly.

Kathy M.

Yikes! Looking in the oven and the cake has ridden a bit ABOVE the edge of the cake pan. About 1/4 inch. Twelve minutes to go and the center is sunken. Well, we shall see what I end up with.

Nancy J.

Delicious, easy and very moist. Be careful with the glaze - it goes from incredibly thick to runny quickly. Add that 3rd tablespoon of lemon juice very gradually. I only ended up using a total of 2.5 tablespoons the second time I made it and that was perfect.


Down arrow

French Almond-Rum Cake (Gâteau Nantais)

Get Ready to Cook

12

Servings

3¼ hours

25 minutes active

Tip

Don’t use a small saucepan to make the syrup, and don’t forget to remove the pan from the burner before pouring in the rum. These steps help ensure that the alcohol won’t ignite. After removing the cake from the pan, don’t re-invert it—leave it bottom side up, as the perfectly flat surface is easy to glaze. Finally, don’t allow the cake to cool before brushing on the syrup; absorption is better if the cake is still hot.

For the cake
  • 16

    tablespoons (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan

  • 6

    large eggs

  • 300

    grams (1⅓ cups) white sugar

  • 2

    tablespoons grated lemon zest

  • 250

    grams (2½ cups) almond flour

  • ¼

    teaspoon table salt

  • 80

    grams (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour

  • 6

    tablespoons dark rum

For the rum syrup
  • 38

    grams (3 tablespoons) white sugar

  • 1

    tablespoon whole allspice

  • 1
  • ½

    cup dark rum

For the lemon glaze and garnish
  • 186

    grams (1½ cups) powdered sugar

  • ¼

    teaspoon table salt

  • 3

    tablespoons lemon juice, plus more if needed

  • 47

    grams (½ cup) sliced almonds, toasted

Step 1 of 7

Prepare Oven and Cake Pan

salted butter, room temperature, for the pan
6
large eggs

To make the cake, heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, beat the eggs.

Step 2 of 7

Mix Cake Batter

16
tablespoons (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature,
300
grams (1⅓ cups) white sugar
2
tablespoons grated lemon zest
250
grams (2½ cups) almond flour
¼
teaspoon table salt
80
grams (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
6
tablespoons dark rum

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, white sugar and lemon zest on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.


Add the almond flour and salt, then beat on medium just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. With the mixer running, gradually add the eggs and beat until homogenous, scraping the bowl as needed.


Increase to medium-high and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice.


With the mixer running on low, gradually add the all-purpose flour and mix until incorporated, then slowly add the rum and beat just until combined.


Scrape the bowl to ensure no pockets of flour or rum remain. The batter will be thick.

Step 3 of 7

Bake Cake

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, then spread in an even layer and smooth the surface. Bake until deep golden brown and the center of the cake springs back when gently pressed, 50 to 55 minutes.

Step 4 of 7

Create Rum Syrup

38
grams (3 tablespoons) white sugar
1
tablespoon whole allspice
1
teaspoon black peppercorns
½
cup dark rum

Meanwhile, to make the rum syrup, in a large saucepan combine the white sugar, ⅓ cup water, allspice and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over medium-high, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then boil for 3 minutes.


Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum. Bring to a simmer over medium and cook for 2 minutes.


Pour the mixture though a fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl; discard the solids and set the syrup aside.

Step 5 of 7

Brush Cake With Syrup

When the cake is done, let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto another wire rack; do not re-invert.


Immediately brush the top and sides of the cake with all of the rum syrup. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Transfer the cooled cake to a platter.

Step 6 of 7

Create Lemon Glaze

186
grams (1½ cups) powdered sugar
¼
teaspoon table salt
3
tablespoons lemon juice, plus more if needed

To make the lemon glaze, in a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and salt, then gradually whisk in the lemon juice; the glaze should be smooth, with the consistency of yogurt.


If it is too thick, whisk in additional lemon juice ½ teaspoon at a time to attain the proper consistency.

Step 7 of 7

Glaze and Serve

47
grams (½ cup) sliced almonds, toasted

Pour the glaze onto the center of the cake, then use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the glaze toward the edges, allowing just a small amount to drip down the sides.


Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Let stand at room temperature to set the glaze, about 1 hour.

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