Spiced Applesauce Snack Cake (Gluten Free)

Applesauce Cake

I often wonder why pumpkins get all the glory in the fall. Maybe it’s because the green mermaid company started squirting the flavor in everything, or maybe it goes all the way back to that little cartoon-kid and his obsession with the ‘great’ one. However it started, I find it disheartening that the ‘other’ fall flavor doesn’t get much credit.

Growing up at the farm house, my spring, summer, and fall were filled with visions of apple blossoms, bees, buds, and finally tiny round green promises that I watched grow into big beauties.

In the fall our lawn was never mowed in the straight lines and patterns that I so often enjoyed creating on the John Deere. Instead, there where zigzags. Swaths of grass cut on strange angles were evidence of my trips back and forth to the tree line so I could pick another snack off a low branch. The neighbor’s horse benefited, too. A handful of imperfect apple always made it across the fence to old JoAnn as I roared by.

We had many varieties of trees. Early apples, mid-season, and late, we were rarely without the fruit from August through October. This translates to a lot of apple recipes in my family. Here is one of the most recent – don’t let the Gluten Free label put you off, it will surprise you, and delight you. Maybe we can all work together and give the apple her glory days back.

John Deere

Spiced Applesauce Snack Cake

Ingredients

7 ½ ounces gluten free flour blend*

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

3 large eggs

½ cup granulated sugar (3 ½ ounces)

¼ cup light brown sugar (packed) (1 ¾ ounces)

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cloves

4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

¾ cup applesauce (unsweetened)

1 teaspoon vanilla

(Optional – local apple butter for topping.)

*Gluten Free Flour Blend

24 ounces white rice flour (4 ½ cups, plus 1/3 cup) (one bag of Bob’s Red Mill brand)

7 ½ ounces brown rice flour (1 2/3 cups)

7 ounces potato starch (not potato flour) (1 1/3 cup)

3 ounces tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour) (3/4 cup)

¾ ounce nonfat milk powder (3 tablespoons)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set oven rack in the center position.

Lightly grease one 8 inch square cake pan, or two bread loaf pans. Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of pan(s) and line the bottoms. Lightly grease parchment as well.

Whisk together gluten free flour blend, baking powder, baking soda and xanthan gum in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl (do not use stand mixer for this recipe) whisk eggs, sugars, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves until well combined and eggs are light in color. Slowly add melted butter while whisking until combined. Incorporate apple sauce and vanilla. Last, add the dry flour mixture and thoroughly combine. Mixture should be smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan(s). Bake until cake tester comes out clean – about 30 minutes – rotating pan(s) half way through baking time.

Cool completely before storing. Cake can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored for up to three days in the refrigerator.

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Pineapple Up Side Down Cake (Gluten Free)

Pineapple Finished I felt yucky. My health issues were getting in the way of my day-to-day activities and I knew I had to do something about it. It had been eight months and it was time to admit there was a problem. I finally (and reluctantly) went to see my doctor. After a month-long process of tests, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in February. When I tell people about my health issue and my new diet restrictions I get two reactions. The first is a horrified look, and something along the lines of ‘Oh my God, I could NEVER live without pasta’. Followed by, ‘Wait, don’t you run a bakery out of your home?’ Ok, first. Yes, you can live without gluten-infused pasta. There are a lot of substitutions available and I am lucky to live in a country where they are so readily available. And second, yes, I do run a bakery out of my home and it is a big challenge. This is why I am slowly but surely transforming all of my products to be gluten free. While I am busy morphing my product line, there are still other very important items to attend to. Like cravings. This week I really, really wanted some Pineapple Up Side Down Cake, and it didn’t help that  this came in the mail. Pineapple So I got to work… Pineapple1 and this happened… Pineapple Slice Pineapple Up Side Down Cake (Gluten Free*)

*Make this from scratch like I did, or use a boxed gluten free yellow cake mix. The method remains the same.

Topping

1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored

3/4 stick unsalted butter

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

Batter

3 ounces white chocolate, chopped

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into four pieces

5 1/2 ounces gluten free flour blend**

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon xanthun gum

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

2 large eggs, separated

Pinch cream of tarter

3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup sour cream

 

**Gluten Free Flour Blend

24 ounces white rice flour (4 ½ cups, plus 1/3 cup) (one bag of Bob’s Red Mill brand)

7 ½ ounces brown rice flour (1 2/3 cups)

7 ounces potato starch (not potato flour) (1 1/3 cup)

3 ounces tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour) (3/4 cup)

¾ ounce nonfat milk powder (3 tablespoons)

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, set oven rack to middle position and grease a 9″ cake pan.

Make Topping

Use the handy dandy pineapple corer/slicer, or cut pineapple crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces.

Melt butter in sauce pan.

Add brown sugar and simmer over medium heat, stirring, five minutes. Pour caramel mixture into prepared cake pan. Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture in desired pattern.

Make Batter

Microwave chocolate and butter together in a bowl, thirty seconds at a time until melted (about 1 1/2 minutes). Set aside to slightly cool.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour blend, baking powder, xanthun gum, salt and baking soda.

Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites and cream of tarter on medium speed for 1 minute. Turn speed up to high and whip for another 1 minute.

While the mixer is running, slowly add 1/4 cup sugar and whip until glossy, stiff peaks form. This will take 2-3 minutes.

Transfer egg whites to clean bowl.

Put (your now empty) bowl back and add egg yolks and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

While mixer is running, add 1/4 cup sugar, then turn the speed up to high. Whip for 2 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium and add chocolate mixture and sour cream. Mix for 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Remove bowl from mixer and fold egg white mixture into batter until no streaks remain. Spread batter over pineapple/caramel mixture in baking pan.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Cake will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and the center should bounce back slightly when touched.

Cool on a rack for one hour. Invert cake onto serving plate. Some puddles of caramel might be visible. These will be absorbed by the cake within minutes.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to two days.

Origin of The Book

Dad with Peaches Big Bird With Mom in rockerFarmhouse

Mom finally came through with that family cookbook she had been promising. The coveted book was finally in my hot little hands. A one-and-a-half inch binder with an obnoxious purple leopard print cover, it was full of answers to my culinary questions and the magic gateway to turning my kitchen into a version of hers. Without wasting a minute I sat down to flip through the contents.

Initially I turned the pages rapidly looking for my favorites.  Junk Meat, the go-to roast she made almost weekly.  Decorator’s Icing, the secret to the hundreds of cakes she sold out of our little farmhouse kitchen. However, it was not long before I slowed down and lingered on each page as every recipe suddenly brought a flood of memories with it.

I was transformed into that little brown haired, blue eyed, freckle faced girl sitting in our 1970’s kitchen. I smelled the sweetness from her most recent cake order and mingling in there somewhere was a little hint of savory left over from dinner. That night it was a quick fix of seasoned and baked hamburger patties with canned green beans from our garden and mashed potatoes. Always potatoes. They made a nightly appearance per my Dad’s request.

The orange and yellow floral vinyl floor was speckled with crumbs and the goldenrod countertops cluttered.  A Kitchen Aid Mixer and small black and white T.V. droned in the background and it was my sister’s turn to clear the table and run the dishwasher. She chatted on the phone with a cord so long you could nearly reach half of the house. I sat at the table in the kitchen doing school work as Mom maneuvered around easily and efficiently, pausing at times to look over my shoulder or quiz me on a spelling word.  I was stuffed, but the little bits of cake left over from trimming petit fours littered the tray beside me and I nibbled along.

Snapping me back into reality was my baby banging on his highchair signaling me for more Cheerios. I quickly obliged then took a moment and looked at my own kitchen. The counters were cluttered, the air warm, and the gorgeous smell of dinner wafted throughout the house.  Italian meatballs lined the cooling rack for freezing later. The little (color) T.V. blinked in the background and I noted how similar my childhood kitchen and this kitchen felt.

It was then I came to the realization I am now the keeper of the book. The carrier of the torch, if you will.  The connection I had with my mother in that farmhouse resonated here and extended to this smiling baby.  I am the person, and this is the kitchen that my children will remember. I have the ability to shape their memories, all the while taking a journey through mine with this cookbook. Not only will I will add their favorite recipes to that purple leopard binder, I will take the time to write down my stories and memories of the dishes that mean the most to me. Since we have transitioned from the long telephone cord of my childhood to the current digital age I have the ability to share this with you, too.