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Arabic Cake with Tonka Bean

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Incredibly aromatic Arabic cake made with only four ingredients, like ground almonds, tonka bean, eggs, and sugar. Yet the resulting cake is fantastic!

Arabic Cake with Ground Almonds

A simple Arabic cake with tonka bean and ground almonds, flourless and full of flavor, this is the perfect sweet treat with a cup of coffee.

arabian cake without flour slices on a plate

Dense, moist and sweet crumb, the taste of almonds and the intense aroma of the tonka bean… this easy tonka cake will make you perfectly happy.

I made a Middle Eastern almond cake a few years ago and loved it. Unfortunately with so many other cakes waiting to be baked I kind of forgot about it. Every now and then, while searching in my notebook for something else, I stumbled upon the recipe, and I’ve always thought that I should bake it again soon.

Recently, it finally happened. I intended to bake a cake, but while searching for the ingredients I noticed that I was completely out of flour. Nothing there! I think that didn’t happen to me in years. Stores are closed on Sundays and I didn’t want to bother the neighbors.

Suddenly I remembered this Arabic cake and the fact that it contains no flour, just ground almonds. I had everything else, so in less than 15 minutes the tonka cake was in the oven.

middle eastern almond cake sliced on a green plate


Ground almonds

  • I used ground almonds that were ground with their skin on, no need for the more expensive blanched ground almonds.
  • You can buy already ground almonds or grind the almonds in the food processor yourself. Just be careful not to overmix and turn them to almond butter.

Tonka bean:

  • It was the first time that I used tonka beans. I had a few of them for quite a while in my spice cupboard but didn’t really know how to use them.
  • The recipe actually called for cardamom and vanilla but I thought it was about time to use the tonka beans. And I am so glad I did.
  • You will not believe the intense aroma of the tonka bean. I only grated half of a very small bean for the cake but the taste was so wonderfully intense, something like vanilla but stronger, like sweet flowers or some kind of heavy perfume, I cannot really describe it. You have to try it to really understand it.
  • The fingers of my right hand which was holding the bean while grating it retained the scent for hours and hours after grating the bean, although I had washed my hands several times in between. The whole kitchen kept the scent for two whole days. Amazing!
  • However, while researching for this post I found out that tonka beans are actually illegal in the US. Crazy! If you wish to read more about that read this article.
tonka cake with ground almonds on a green plate

How to replace the tonka bean?

  • You can replace it with a vanilla bean and a pinch of cardamom.
  • It will still taste great but do try the tonka bean if you can, you will be amazed by its flavor.
middle eastern dessert served with black coffee

More Middle Eastern recipes?

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus – A flavorsome roasted red pepper hummus recipe with tahini, chickpeas and white beans, this has become one of our favorite spreads or dips.

Tabbouleh – Or tabouleh or tabouli, probably the best-known Middle Eastern or Arabic salad recipe, made with lots and lots of parsley, mint, bulgur, tomatoes, and cucumbers

Persian Eggplant Dip – A very easy to make and delightful Iranian recipe for eggplant or aubergine and tomato dip with yogurt.

Chicken Shawarma Plate – How to make a chicken shawarma plate at home.

Mujammara Dip – An amazing Syrian or Middle Eastern recipe with roasted peppers, walnuts, and pomegranate molasses.

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flourless ground almond cake sprinkled with icing sugar
round arabic cake with tonka beans on a silver platter

Arabic Cake with Tonka Bean

Incredibly aromatic Arabic cake made with only four ingredients, like ground almonds, tonka bean, eggs, and sugar.
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Cakes
Cuisine: Middle East
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 207kcal
Author: Adina


  • 200 g/ 7 oz/ 1 2/3 cup ground almonds
  • 150 g / ¾ cup/ 5.3 oz granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs medium Germany, large US
  • ½ of a very small tonka bean See note
  • icing sugar optional


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of a springform (24 cm/9.4-inch diameter) with baking paper.
  • Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
  • In another bowl mix together the ground almonds, sugar, and egg yolks together.
  • Grate the tonka bean over this mixture and mix thoroughly.
  • Add about 1/3 of the egg whites and incorporate well with a spatula. Add the rest of the egg whites and fold in very gently.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Leave to cool completely and sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.


If you cannot get hold of tonka beans, you can replace that with the seeds of 1 vanilla bean and 1 pinch ground cardamom.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 207kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 128mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 16g
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @adinabeck or tag #WhereIsMySpoon!

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Recipe Rating


Saturday 14th of May 2022

I think you skipped a step with the egg yolks. Shouldn’t we whip them with the sugar until doubled or something? I have nothing but a flat dough and it’s impossible to get this clumpy egg yolk mix to fold nicely with the egg whites. Please be more specific


Sunday 15th of May 2022

Hi. I didn't skip a step, you should mix the egg yolks as instructed. Then add 1/3 of the egg whites, this step will make the dough wetter/softer/ more manageable. After that you fold in the rest of the whites, they will help the cake rise a little during baking. However, the cake it's flat, it will not rise like a regular cake made with flour and baking powder or soda.


Wednesday 8th of April 2020

I think it would really help if you added the part of where the sugar goes in the recipe because I just made it and realised that no where in the recipe it tells you what to do with the sugar and so I just wasted all my ingredients for a bitter cake.


Friday 4th of September 2015

They are wonderful, the tonka beans. Can't understand why they are forbidden in the US. I would send you some, if I wasn't so afraid to do something illegal. :) :)

Chris Scheuer

Friday 4th of September 2015

Tonka beans? Wow, you have me intrigued. Your cake is so pretty and sounds wonderful!

Thao @ In Good Flavor

Friday 4th of September 2015

Such a unique cake, Adina. I love it!


Friday 4th of September 2015

Thank you, Thao.