baking gluten-free recipe sweets

Wintry (+ Flourless Apple Cake)

2 December 2014

A lovely, not-too-sweet, naturally flourless/gluten-free caramelized apple cake that’s perfect for the season.

It’s been raining here lately, which I admit I love though when it negatively affects part of the country I’d much rather have sun and dry weather. We have actually turned on some of our heaters, which haven’t been used since last winter. For someone who only used her San Francisco heat in the final months of living in her apartment – not because it wasn’t chilly, because it was, but because I didn’t mind adding an extra sweater and am slightly weird I guess – it’s a new and rather welcome thing. A lot of the houses in Casablanca (and probably the rest of Morocco) are built out of concrete and lined with beautiful tile floors that work wonderfully in the summer to keep heat at bay. But it can get quite, quite brisk indoors during the cooler months and I am grateful for the opportunity to warm up when possible. Of course another way to cozy up a house or an apartment is to turn on the oven and bake something and lord knows I rarely need an excuse to do that. It is starting to feel decidedly wintry here, and thus wintry baking things must start happening as well. In the midst of last week’s flurry of Thanksgiving baking I decided to also make a gluten-free apple cake for, I don’t know, morning snacking? Just because? For experimental purposes? Probably all of those.

We’re going to California for the holidays and as luck has it my brother and Emily will cross paths with us for a few days in Sebastopol. O, joy! This means that I am compiling a bunch of gluten-free/naturally flourless recipes to make when we are together. As is my usual wont I want these to be desserts and dishes that we can all enjoy, not just those among us who keep gluten-free. I have my pumpkin pie sorted, an apple-pear galette, a persimmon cake I can’t stop nibbling on, and this apple cake. I’m kind of really into this idea of blending a few gluten-free flours to create a flavor profile that is geared specifically toward the particular dessert I’m working on. Meaning, I’m not using a general all-purpose gluten-free blend across the board but trying to be very thoughtful about what naturally gluten-free flours taste the best with each other and what fruit or chocolate or or or is highlighted.

This cake, which I came across on the Bojon Gourmet blog, immediately caught my eye. 1. It’s beautiful, and if I had quince I might make it exactly as-is. 2. I have a small stockpile of naturally gluten-free flours with which I’ve been experimenting and I liked the use of three flours here to make up a total of 1 1/2 cups flour. 3. Almost as important as the rest: no gums are called for.

It’s that last one that I’m a bit of a stickler about. I can’t obtain those here (I don’t think) but more than that I try to keep to a pretty simple and ‘whole food’ diet as much as I possibly can. I also don’t know if gums are absolutely essential to gluten-free baking; flax or chia seeds seem to be a fine substitute and sometimes you don’t need any sort of ‘binder’ at all depending on the flours you use. Sweet rice flour is one that is inherently starchy and helps create that finer crumb we’re accustomed to in baked goods made with wheat flour.

I know that baking with a myriad of flours can seem intimidating but I encourage you to try it out if you are keeping gluten-free; an initial investment in the flours can turn out to be more than worth it. I also hope that a clear, fairly simple and well-thought-out recipe will temper some of that intimidation.

This apple cake is dense and not-too-sweet and not at all boring. The apples are laced with maple syrup (a sprinkling of ground cardamom or cinnamon would not go amiss either) and cooked down in a bit of butter until they are soft and caramelized. Buckwheat adds a deeper note to the lighter sweet rice and millet flours and the yogurt keeps things from getting too dry. I always like to mention in a caveat that even though I don’t necessarily keep gluten-free myself when I bake naturally flourless goodies my standards are prettttty high; I know this cake is one I’ll be making in a few weeks when we’re Stateside and maybe even before then.

  • Alanna 2 December 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Hi! This version of my cake looks delicious! Thank you so much for posting it, and for the shout out. I’m a huge fan of buckwheat and cardamom so I hope to give your version a try. I live in Northern California! Let me know if you pass through San Francisco and want to get a coffee – my email’s on my about page. I dream of visiting Morocco someday. :)

  • Ksenia @ At the Immigrant's Table 2 December 2014 at 4:26 am

    I just got my hands of a copy of flourless., and I can’t wait to bake from it! Also, any flourless cake with apples is perfection in my books.