When I heard that Gluten Free Works were encouraging bloggers to contribute recipes for Halloween/Fall it set me to thinking about some apples that I needed to use up. They had been given to me by a fellow gluten free friend on a recent visit and I wanted to do something with them other than make crumble.
I have an apple cake recipe that I always use but I wanted to try making smaller cakes, spiced with the flavours that invoke thoughts of Christmas/Thanksgiving and the warm flavours that we love to wrap ourselves in as the weather turns colder.
I have only recently discovered that my pressure cooker is the best thing to use when wanting to make apple puree. Normally I would peel and chop them, pop them all in a saucepan with a splash of water and just simmer them for 15-20 minutes. This is long enough for them to soften up so that I can mash them or puree them depending on the consistency that I want.
However if I want puree I now find it quicker to fill the pressure cooker, pop it on for 20 minutes, with the result that I have perfect puree – a one pot solution!
Standard cake making method: cream the butter and the sugar before adding the eggs. I also added the zest of one lemon. If you don’t like coming across bits of the zest in your cake then make sure you use the finest side of your grater!
I sifted my flour and added some salt, mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves), some more cinnamon and some freshly grated nutmeg.
I wanted to add a seasonal twist to the cakes, something that would also add texture. We’d recently been to our local woods for an autumn walk and had been delighted to discover a whole load of sweet chestnuts hidden under the thick carpet of scrunchy leaves. Roasted to remove their shells, I decided to grind them down to use them in a similar way to ground almonds and fold them through the mixture.
Finally I added the apple puree. In my first run through I used the same quantity of apple puree as the flour and butter. The cakes were lovely – especially warmed – but I am going to add some more next time. Depending on which gluten free flours you use – either your own mix or a bought mix – will depend on how moist the end result is. I’m sure you’ll have fun experimenting!
A good thing about this recipe, for those of you avoiding gums, is that you don’t need to add any xanthum or guar gum to the mixture.
I had enough mixture to fill 12 muffin cases and 4 mini (silicone) loaf pans. The little loafs were wonderful fresh from the oven, in slices with some butter melting over them. They went too quick to get a photograph!
The cakes were allowed to cool and I decided that I needed a suitable frosting for the top so I made a chocolate buttercream using some sweet chestnut puree (creme de marrons) with just a splash of brandy to pair well with the apple and the chestnuts. Feel free to use your favourite buttercream!
I should warn you that being much more of a tomboy than a girly-girl I can’t ice cakes at all! However, here is a picture of the finished cakes – the last three left that I managed to photograph before my hungry hoards devoured them!
225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
3 large eggs, beaten
225g plain flour*
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice (in England this typically includes cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves or allspice)
50g ground chestnuts
225g fresh cooked apples/apple puree**
* Use your favourite gf mix – I’ve used AiA blend, Dove’s Farm, Bob’s Red Mill etc
** You can add anything up to 400g of puree – experiment!
Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C/160°C fan. Cream the butter and the sugar well then add the lemon zest. Add the beaten egg a little at a time, beating well between each addition. Sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice and fold it in to the mixture.
Fold in the ground chestnuts, then fold in the apple puree. It doesn’t matter if it is not fully incorporated.
This mixture should make approximately 18 muffins. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until well risen, golden and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.