While reading my copy of The Yeast Connection Cookbook some time ago, I came across a recipe for "Magic Apple Pie". I was intrigued - it was a crustless pie, sweetened with pureed pears. I knew I had to try it some time. I've had a hankering for a fruity dessert thing lately, and since I am having a few friends over tonight - the first social gathering at my new apartment! - I decided now is as good a time as any to try this whole magic apple pie thing out. Instead of a pie pan, I put it in a square pan to make a cake, and whipped up a crunchy, lightly sweetened streusal topping to add to the top. As it baked, and my home filled with the sweet smell of baking apples, I got a good feeling about it.
I couldn't resist sampling a bite before my friends arrived, and was totally pleased with the result! This cake is a little fragile, but has a good texture and amazing flavor. The combination of pears and apples is lovely - making the pureed pear sweetener is a litlte time consuming, but well worth the effort. I used mesquite flour and a little allspice to achieve a spicy, warm flavor, but if you can tolerate cinnamon, go ahead and use that. The streusal topping is crunchy and just a little sweet, and adds a nice touch.
My friends really liked it, and thought it tasted great. They were surprised that it didn't have any added sugar. I like getting feedback from my gluten-eating, sugar-loving friends because I feel like I've lost my ability to be an impartial judge - I'm glad they are good sports and supportive of my baking endeavors. We all agreed that while the cake was totally delicious, it would be awesome to add berries. The cake is fairly moist and the apples are juicy, but overall, it is verging on the crumbly side, since brown rice flour tends to cook up a bit dry. So, added berries would help add a nice, juicy twist - apple blackberry perhaps? Or maybe use sliced pears instead of apples, and add blueberries. Or sliced peaches and raspberries. Or use only berries. Or maybe rhubarb? A handful of nuts or seeds thrown in would be delightful as well. The combinations are endless, and I'll need to try this recipe again.
Give a try exactly as it is, try using other fruit, or add nuts; either way, I think you'll be very happy! This would make a great crumb cake for breakfast brunches or afternoon tea parties. For something more dessert like, serve up with a scoop of your favorite ice cream-like frozen dessert, or a dallop of whipped coconut milk or non-dairy yogurt - or the real stuff, if you're a dairy eater.
APPLE PEAR STREUSEL CAKE (gluten free, vegan, sugar free)
adapted from The Yeast Connection Cookbook by William G Crook and Marjorie Hurt Jones
yield: 1 9"x9" pan (12 or 16 slices)
2 1/3 c pureed ripe pears
1 c brown rice flour
1/2 t salt
2 T mesquite flour OR 1 t cinnamon and 1/4 t nutmeg
dash of allspice
4 1/2 - 5 c finely sliced cooking apples
1/3 c coconut oil, warmed to liquid
1/4 t vitamin C crystals OR 1 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
2 T boiling water
1/2-2/3 c streusel topping (recipe below)
MAKING PUREED PEAR SWEETENER
- Wash and chop pears, and put in blender to the 3 cup level. Liquefy.
- Add additional fruit to reach about 2 1/3 c, and liquify until smooth.
- Transfer to saucepan and boil 20-25 minutes, stirring occassionally, until it boils down and condenses to 3/4 c.
- While pear sweetener is boiling, prepare other ingredients. Oil and dust with flour a 8x8 or 9x9 square cake pan.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and mesquite flour/spices and mix well.
- Peel and slice the apples, and set aside. Preheat oven to 350* F.
- Once pear sweetener is ready, add vitamin C crystals to the cooked fruit puree. NOTE: If using cream of tartar, combine it with the flour. Stir the oil into the fruit puree until well mixed.
- Pour the pureed fruit mixture over the flour mixture, and mix well with a whisk or electric mixer.
- Combine baking soda with boiling water, stir to dissolve, and add to the flour/fruit mixture.
- Quickly fold in the sliced apples, and immediately transfer batter to prepared pan.
- Sprinkle evenly with struesel topping, and place in oven.
- Bake 55 minutes, or until cake and topping are browned and apples are tender.
- Let cool completely, slice, and serve!
CRUNCHY BROWN RICE STREUSEL TOPPING (gluten free, vegan)
yield: about 2/3 c
1/2 c brown rice flour
1/3 c crispy brown rice cereal, lightly crushed
1 T xylitol
dash allspice, cinnamon, or nutmeg
3 T coconut oil, solid
- Lightly crush rice cereal in your hands, and mix in small bowl with other dry ingredients.
- Rub solid coconut oil in to cereal mixture with your fingers, until it is well combined and crumbly.
- Sprinkle over muffins, cakes, bars, or breads before baking. NOTE: because there isn't any sugar in the recipe, and rice flour does not brown like wheat flour, it will not get brown in the same way as traditional streusel.