Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Happy Birthday Apple Cake

Last week was my mother's birthday. She's always been supportive of my dietary quirks and open to eating my baking experiments, so I decided to show my appreciation and bake her a cake. Considering my mother's dietary restrictions and preferences—lactose intolerance, a missing gallbladder and a love for cinnamon and apples—this Gluten Free Applesauce Snack Cake seemed ideal.

As this was my first experience with rice flour, I followed the recipe closely. My only changes were to convert everything to weight measurements, add additional spice, and use coconut oil instead of canola. More significantly, I couldn't find any rice flour at my local grocer, so I made my own—I processed brown rice in a coffee grinder, then sifted it to remove any unground bits. Although the quality of the rice I had was admittedly questionable, and it probably wasn't ground as finely as commercially made rice flour, it worked.

The flavour of the cake was marvelous, and the texture was good too—perhaps a bit dense and dry. Though I know gluten free products have a reputation for these shortcomings, I can't overlook the possibility that this dryness may have been the effect my homemade rice flour—perhaps a finer flour would yield a moister texture. Fortunately, I anticipated the possibility of dryness and I made a Vanilla Sauce to accompany the cake—using lactose free milk, of course.

Unfortunately, rather than simplifying things, the sauce became a new source of stress. I did not have any potato starch on hand, so I had to use cornstarch. In the instructions, she writes that you shouldn't boil the mixture, yet, just that week, I had learned in my baking theory class that corn starch requires boiling, not only to ensure thickening, but to fully cook it and do away with its awful, starchy aftertaste.

At first I was cautious—I used a thermometer and did not boil. It thickened, but when I took it off the stove and gave it a taste, was awful and starchy, but also bland. I scrambled to fix it—I doubled, or perhaps tripled the honey and added the zest of a half an orange, for flavour and to bring out the orange in the cake. I then brought it to a strong boil,  stirring to prevent scorching. I am uncertain of the amount of sweetener I used, which makes me hesitate to write my altered version of the recipe—perhaps another time.

After all of this trouble, it was the sweetest thing to hear my dad say "this cream is very good." He even liked the cake, though he said the cream was a necessary component to compensate for the dryness of the cake. Passing the approval of my toughest critic is significant, but the most important point was that my mom was happy with her birthday cake, and finished it within two days. So, here's the recipe for the cake with my conversions.

Gluten Free Apple Cake
(Adapted from Gluten Free Applesauce Snack Cake)

  • 320 grams rice flour
  • 5 grams salt
  • 5 grams ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 7 grams baking soda
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature*
  • 490 grams unsweetened, smooth textured applesauce, at room temperature*
  • 160 grams honey
  • 75 grams coconut oil, softened*
  • zest of 1 orange

1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease a cake pan well.
2. Sift together first 8 ingredients. Set Aside.
3. Combine applesauce, honey, coconut oil and zest. Whisk eggs and add to wet ingredients.
4. Gently add wet to dry and stir until combined—don't over mix.
5. Pour batter into pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, but check early. You don't want to over bake it and dry it out. 
6. Remove from cake pan as soon as you're able. Serve with cream, or something like this Vanilla Sauce.

*you want everything to be at room temperature so that the coconut oil does not become too cold, solidify and separate—makes for a very lumpy batter.

Happy Birthday Mom!


  1. That does look lovely! I like your little creamer, too!

  2. Thanks! You can see the teapot when we have a tea party!

  3. I love apple cakes! And the creamer looks extra pretty in the photos :)


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