Apple Cake, Vegan and Gluten-Free

Apple Cake, Vegan and Gluten-Free
Apple Cake, Vegan and Gluten-Free

You guys are noticing a trend, right? It’s apparently a bumper crop year for apples. When I was trying to figure out how to use up apples, my friend Erika sent me a link for this recipe for Mom’s Apple Cake from Smitten Kitchen. For obvious reasons, I had to change the original, and I tried making it more like an upside down cake.  It took a couple of tries, but I have it where I like it now.

Apple Cake, Vegan and Gluten-Free

Apple mixture:

  • 6 large apples or 7 medium apples (I used a mix from my apple trees out back, mostly McIntosh and Galas.)
  • 1 Tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 5 Tablespoons of brown sugar

Cake batter:

  • 2 and 3/4 cups of all purpose gluten-free flour mix (I used Cara Reed’s mix from her blog, Fork and Beans)
  • 1 Tablespoon of baking powder (For corn free baking powder you can use this recipe.)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of safe for you oil (I used olive oil and grape seed oil, mostly because I ran out of olive oil and had to top it off with grape seed oil.) 
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of orange juice (I don’t have a safe orange juice so I squeezed mine myself.)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (Here’s a bunch of recipes for vanilla extract, make sure to use safe alcohol if corn or wheat are an issue for you. I used a vodka made only from potatoes,  be careful as some vodkas may also use grain or corn.)
  • 1/2 cup of applesauce (I used my home canned but use any safe applesauce you have.)
  • 1/4 cup of aquafaba (The liquid from a can of garbanzo beans or chick peas. I used my home canned garbanzo bean liquid.)
  • 1 Tablespoon of ground chia seed

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan with some safe for you oil.

Peel, core and slice apples. Place them in a bowl and toss them with the 5 tablespoons of brown sugar and the cinnamon. Set the apple mixture aside for now.

Apple mixture
Apple mixture

Stir gluten-free flour mix, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, orange juice, sugar, the remaining brown sugar, vanilla, applesauce, aquafaba and ground chia seed. I use a stand mixer with flat beater to do this.

Wet mixture
Wet mixture

Once these ingredients are fully incorporated together, add the flour mixture slowly to your wet mixture, with the mixer speed on low. You could also mix this manually, but the stand mixer makes my life a lot easier.

Cake batter after mixing wet and dry ingredients
Cake batter after mixing wet and dry ingredients

Pour half of the apple mixture into your greased baking pan, spreading them evenly across the bottom of the pan.

Pouring half apples in bottom of baking pan
Pouring half apples in bottom of baking pan

Pour half of the cake batter over the apples, spreading it evenly across the pan.

First layer of batter over apples
First layer of batter over apples

Then pour the remaining apple mixture over the batter evenly.

Second layer of apples over first layer of batter
Second layer of apples over first layer of batter

Cover the apple mixture with the remaining cake batter.

Second layer of batter over second layer of apples
Second layer of batter over second layer of apples

Bake for about an hour and half or until a tooth pick comes out clean.

Apple Cake after baking
Apple Cake after baking

Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Loosen edges around the pan with a butter knife, and then invert the baking pan onto platter. Don’t let it cool too long or it will stick and be harder to remove from the pan (which you can tell mine did because I got distracted.)

Apple Cake after removal from pan
Apple Cake after removal from pan


2015-10-2 Fabulous Food Allergy Friday

Denise's knitted dragon project hosts the blog this week.
Denise’s knitted dragon project hosts the blog this week.

In science news, a Newly Discovered Cell May be Key Contributor to Severe Allergic Reactions. Here’s hoping we find more causes and so solutions some day. 

Since I’ve (Denise) had some reactions to maple syrup that may be corn or dairy related, or that may be related to my maple pollen allergy, and I’m still swimming in apples, this Apple Cider Syrup & Molasses recipe appears intriguing. 

I (Mary Kate) am obsessed with sweet potatoes this week. I need more recipes as, wonderful as baked sweet potatoes are, I’m bored with them. I am thinking that this soup, with maple syrup and bacon, sounds great. This sweet potato burrito bowl also looks good, and I think I can modify it to suit my allergies, like using vegan cheese and guacamole instead of sour cream as a topping. I’m also thinking that I should make my own recipe for amazing sweet potato soup again, with chipotle goodness. Or sweet potato chips.

Mary Kate’s Perfect Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mary Kate's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Mary Kate’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

The problem with chocolate chip cookies? Everyone likes them differently. Some people like them soft, others chewy, some crunchy. This is why there are a billion recipes out there. And when your recipe no longer works for you, you might try 5 recipes and still be disappointed. Because “just like Mom made” may not be YOUR mom’s recipe.  Or YOUR perfect recipe.

So I’ll tell you what I was aiming for in this recipe and you can decide if that’s what you’re looking for before you start measuring.

The Ryan perfect chocolate chip cookie should be crunchy on the edges, softer and puffier in the middle, but not underdone or actually soft. SoftER, but still with a good crumb. I believe my mother’s cookie recipe was an altered version of the classic Tollhouse recipe, tweaked until it was perfect for our family — or, rather, perfect for my dad. The man used to eat about a dozen cookies as they came out of the oven, usually burning his mouth at least a few times.  These cookies are great for dunking, and another thing I learned from my dad (after “don’t eat hot cookies if you don’t want to burn yourself”) is that cookies dunked in coffee are an excellent morning treat. These don’t spread out as much as my mother’s did, but they do get the texture right.

Key to getting this texture is a trick I learned from my friend Corianne who runs a vegan bakery in Phoenix, Arizona: Treehouse. If you’re in Phoenix, check it out. Anyway, the trick is to freeze the cookie balls before baking. It adds another 30-45 minutes to the process but it is so worth it in terms of payoff.

Dough, Prep for Freezing, Prep for Baking.
Dough, Prep for Freezing, Prep for Baking.


Since I’ve fussed with this recipe more than almost any other recipe on this blog, I have some very specific notes on what has worked and what hasn’t.

The two major ingredients are measured by weight — I hope you have a kitchen scale if you’re trying to do gluten-free baking. It really is necessary, and you can get a decent one for under $20.

For ALL of your ingredients, I hope it goes without saying that you need to source what’s safe for you.

For “shortening,” I’ve used Spectrum shortening. Feel free to use a vegan shortening, vegan butter, or, if you aren’t vegan, another fat or shortening of your choice. I’ve done these with soy-free Earth Balance, but because if it’s really low melting point (it’s really soft at room temperature), the cookies are flatter and crispier, so reduce the baking time by a few minutes. Actually, if you mess with anything, watch your baking time. If you really like a buttery flavor, I’d suggest half margarine and half shortening as a compromise.

For the flour mix, I’m using Cara’s Gluten-Free Flour Mix. Still. Nothing else I’ve tried has worked as well. Sorghum flour is great — I am particular about sourcing, and I buy Authentic Foods sorghum flour and super-fine brown rice flour.

Sugar. I know my mom’s recipe used both white and brown sugars. I ran out of brown sugar while trying this recipe and subbed in the molasses  and white sugar and I liked the flavor better, so I kept it.

Last, but not least, chocolate chips. I’ve used Enjoy Life chocolate chips for a while now, but I can never find regular-sized chips and don’t always want mini chips. I did use the mini-chips here, and I use a scant measurement of the mini chips so that they spread out better. I also recently discovered Equal Exchange chocolate chips and I’m a fan. I used this in a lot of the test versions of this recipe, but I’m out at the moment. As far as I know, neither of these brands is corn-safe, as corn is used the processing of the chips and generally isn’t on the label. If you have corn allergies and have a safe chocolate brand, tell us in the comments?

Mary Kate's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Mary Kate’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mary Kate’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 107 grams shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 Tablespoons aquafaba
  • 200 grams gluten-free flour mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (or just under, if mini chips) chocolate chips

With a mixer, cream the shortening, sugar, and molasses. When it’s nice and creamy, add the aquafaba and the vanilla and mix well.

Separately, mix the flour, salt, soda, powder.

Add the flour mix to the shortening mix slowly, and mix well. The dough will be pretty stiff, pulling together and way from the sides of the bowl.

Mix in the chocolate chips by hand. I find a rubber or silicone spatula works best for this.

Now portion out the cookies on a tray lined with parchment or a silicone baking sheet and pop it in the freezer. Since I don’t have room in my freezer for two trays, I just put the cookie balls close together to freeze, and then space them out onto two trays for baking.

Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF.

When the cookies are frozen (30-45 minutes in my freezer), space them out to give about 2 inches of space around each cookie ball, on the lined baking sheet, and bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely — I tend to just drag the liner from the tray to the rack and leave it. This is me being lazy, but it’s also a good way to deal with the fragility of gluten-free, vegan baked goods.

2015-09-25 Fabulous Food Allergy Friday

Fall Tree
Fall Tree

I (Mary Kate) am recycling this photo of my favorite fall tree – these are in the parking lot of my apartment complex. There used to be a whole row of them, but in the 8 years I’ve lived here, we’re losing them one by one.  They are so gorgeous in October, though, that you totally forget the sap they dripped on your car.

I made pork chops this week using this method from The Kitchn blog. They turned out incredible, even if I didn’t get them quite seared to perfection. I did use the brine, and added whole star anise, cloves, and cardamom pods for a little chai-inspired flavor. I served them with applesauce, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. I can serve everything with applesauce, thanks to Denise’s apple trees (and my lack of imagination in apple processing!) (MK- There’s lots more apples where those came from if you want more – D)

And since it’s finally feeling like fall around here, and the only thing I really like “pumpkin-spiced” is baked goods, I think I can likely fix up this recipe for flourless pumpkin pie muffins to suit my needs. It contains a nut butter, eggs, and honey, which  won’t work for everyone, but one egg is an easy substitute and it sounds like any nut or seed butter would work, so there would be options.

Next year if I (Denise) get more pears, I’d like to try this Pear Sorbet recipe.  Maybe I’ll substitute apples and see how it goes. 

Also, I’ve been looking around for what to do with a ton of sage, since it went nuts in my garden and there’s 7 trays of it in the dehydrator right now.  Apparently you can use sage tea as a sore throat reliever. I’ll have to remember that the next time I get a bug.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Autumn Spiced Pork Loin

Autumn Spiced Pork Loin
Autumn Spiced Pork Loin

As I said a couple of weeks ago, I’m drowning in apples. In addition to all the apple canning projects I’ve been doing, I’m trying to cook with them too.  So I came up with doing a pork loin with a rub using apple pie/mulled cider spices on a bed of onions and apples.

Autumn Spiced Pork Loin

  • 4 pound whole pork loin
  • 2 large or 3 medium onions, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 large or 3 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Small amount of safe for you oil to grease a 9 inch by 13 inch roasting pan with.

Rub for pork loin:

  • 3 Tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Use your safe oil to grease a roasting pan.  Place ingredients for the rub (brown sugar, sea salt, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice) in a small bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork.

Place diced onions and apples in the bottom of the roasting pan.

Apples and onions in roasting pan
Apples and onions in roasting pan

Place pork loin on top of diced onions and apples.

Pork loin in roasting pan on apples and onions
Pork loin in roasting pan on apples and onions

Cover top of pork loin with spice rub.  It’s okay if you get a bit on the apples and onions.

Pork loin with rub
Pork loin with rub

Place the roasting pan in oven and cook until the internal temperature is at least 161°F.  In order to get the correct internal temperature in my oven with a four pound pork loin, it took 1 hour and 45 minutes. If you have a much smaller pork loin, like the one to two pound pork loins you generally find at the grocery store, I’d start with 45 minutes and check the temperature at that time.

Once you’ve reached the correct internal temperature, remove the pork loin from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes.

Pork loin after roasting
Pork loin after roasting

Slice the pork loin and serve with some of the roasted apples and onions.

Autumn Spiced Pork Loin
Autumn Spiced Pork Loin



2015-09-18 Fabulous Food Allergy Friday

Longlook Farm in Sanborton, NH
Longlook Farm in Sanborton, NH

Hey, Friday people. We made it! Here in New Hampshire, the first part of the week was fall-like. It’s now back to summer-ish. We have seasonal confusion.

In honor of that, here’s my (Mary Kate’s) first link, a response to that: vegan chai ice cream. Made with a cashew base, it’s not for the nut allergic, but with chai spices frozen into ice cream, it might be the perfect transitional dessert for this summer/autumn.

Next up, a not gluten-free pizza recipe that includes a cashew-based mozzarella (called “moxarella”) that browns. Apparently I’m really on a cashew kick this week. Sorry to anyone who’s nut allergic — although I’m thinking that you probably understand if you’re not allergic to something I am. You make the most of all the foods that don’t try to harm you, right?

Although this isn’t about food allergies, regulation of the food industry becomes a concern when you have a food allergy. This article about sentencing an owner of a corporation that knowingly sold tainted peanut butter that killed nine people is interesting. This Time article also talks about other cases, such as egg, cantaloupe, and cucumbers. 

As I (Denise) still have an ungodly amount of apples, both in the house and still on trees. I may try to make Hard Cider.  I really want a cider press, but I’m settling for a cheapo juicer for now. 

Have a great week everyone!



Apple Cinnamon Gluten-free Vegan Pancakes


My friend Laurie sent me the sample packet of Anti-Grain flours for my birthday, and the first thing that came to mind for apple flour (which is literally just dehydrated apples — an easy ingredient list to tackle) was pancakes. I love pancakes. Denise did pancakes a while back, but I thought pancakes with an apple flour base would be a nice change of pace.

I also wondered if aquafaba (chickpea brine) as an egg replacer might make a lighter, fluffier pancake, than chia or flax eggs. I tried it, but wasn’t thrilled with the results — I mean, it tasted great, but the texture wasn’t what I wanted. So I whipped the brine, which made all the difference. Admittedly, this adds an extra step and an extra bowl to your pancake adventure. As much as I hate dishes (and I don’t own a dishwasher), this extra bowl is worth it.

I’ve used a mix of oat flour and sorghum flour. If you cannot tolerate gluten-free oats, use all sorghum.

Apple Cinnamon Gluten-Free Vegan Pancakes

serves 4

  • 1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour (can sub sorghum, if you can’t tolerate oats)
  • 1/4 cup apple flour
  • 1/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 1 Tablespoon tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons oil (I prefer the flavor of coconut, but use what works for you)
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I generally use almond)
  • 1/2 cup of whipped aquafaba foam (chickpea brine whipped into an airy foam)
  • Oil for the skillet or pan

Whisk the dry ingredients together.

Add the oil and non-dairy milk and whisk.

Fold in the aquafaba foam.

Heat the skillet or pan over medium heat and lightly oil it. Pour batter in , about 2 Tablespoons at a time. About like this:P1000942

(That’s a 12-inch cast iron skillet, for reference).

When the pancake is slightly dry at the edges, that is usually when you can flip it. I’d give you cooking times, but it seems to vary so much from batch to bath that it’s better to look for doneness. If you want to make all the pancakes and keep them warm, put them in a pan in a low (200ºF) oven to keep them warm.

This makes about 4 servings, depending on how hungry you are. I’m really not sure what a “proper” serving of pancakes is — enough that you’re not hungry when you’re done, I suppose. Top with whatever butter or margarine is safe for you, and maple syrup, if you can have it. Jam is also quite nice on pancakes.

IF you have leftover pancakes, these reheat well, and also taste pretty great cold.

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