Desi loves himself some apple pie and each time we go grocery shopping together he will stop by the apples and wonder how long it has been since he had some. But the last time I gave in, I was not too sure I wanted to bake a pie. Because I am on a healthy bender right now and flaky, melt-in-the-mouth pie crusts– my favorite part of any pie– are not exactly health food.
So the apples sat around a little longer than I will admit, with Desi dropping broad hints ever so often about how he was going to have to throw them away soon. This past weekend I decided to surprise him. But instead of a pie, I baked up this rather low-on-guilt, delicious cake.
I worked from a recipe I found in the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, veganizing it and making it healthier than the original. My Apple Cake is made with whole-wheat pastry flour, one of my favorite baking flours because it virtually eliminates the need to use all-purpose flours in most baked-good recipes, and it is tender and moist with the delicious juiciness of the apples and the crunch of walnuts baked right inside. If you are looking for a kid-friendly and adult-friendly recipe, you couldn’t do better.
This cake contains a cup of sugar, but I found that because my apples were already sweet, I could have used less. If you want to, use 3/4 of a cup and add 1/4 cup of applesauce to add some moisture back in. This is a useful tip for anyone who wants to cut down on sugar in a recipe. Sugar acts as a “wet” ingredient in baked goods, because when it melts it becomes liquid. When you remove sugar from a recipe, you remove moisture and your baked good can turn out dry. Applesauce provides a great option when substituting some of the sugar because it adds tenderness and moisture to a recipe. Don’t overdo it, though. Replacing one-fourth of the sugar with applesauce is fine, but replacing three-fourths of it is not and is going to show in your results.
This Apple Cake is going to be one I make again and again. Enjoy, all!
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (sub with half regular whole-wheat and half all-purpose if you can’t find whole-wheat pastry flour)
2 1/2 cups very finely chopped apples (about 1 1/2 medium apples. I used Granny Smith which is perfect in this recipe)
1 cup sugar (if you want to cut down, substitute a quarter of the sugar with an equal amount of applesauce)
1/3 cup of canola or other flavorless oil
2 tbsp flaxmeal + 6 tbsp warm water. Mix well.
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp of mixed powdered spices– I ground up some cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in my coffee grinder.
1 cup walnuts, toasted lightly and chopped
Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
Beat together the oil, sugar and vanilla for about a minute to aerate.
Add the flaxmeal mixture, beat for a few more seconds to mix, and then add the flour mixture.
Stir with a spatula to get the ingredients well-mixed. The dough will be very stiff. Add the apples and the walnuts and mix well.
Pour the batter into an 8-inch oiled and floured square pan (or use a round cake pan if that’s what you have). To make the cake easier to unmold, line the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and then oil and flour. I didn’t, and trust me, unmolding this cake from the pan was a small battle.
Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes. Unmold and continue cooling.