“It’s a pretty season, fall in Vancouver” – I hadn’t given it much thought until someone mentioned it today. Reddish and golden hued foliage, bright autumnal sun and the bluest skies, cooling temperatures and the start of snow on the mountains…
I used to regard fall with a bit of anxiety, it’s the season when the cold and rain returns, a passage into gloomy winter.
We’ve had a few perfect fall days, despite the rain and cold, which had me looking at the season differently – there’s something special there, you just have to let yourself see it.
And to celebrate fall… a cake!
I’ve mentioned this spiced applesauce cake before; although it wasn’t quite fall the last time I made it.
Yet, it’s the perfect autumn cake, with warming spices like ginger, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom.
It has all the comforting flavours of fall.
I love the smell of this cake when it’s baking, I’ll make it all season long just for how the wonderful scents of spice and baking fills everywhere.
The cake itself is moist, rich and not too sweet, and the frosting sweetens it up nicely.
The recipe is easy and adaptable, add in your favourite spices and leave out what you don’t want.
I love cardamom, I try to sneak it into everything I bake, cardamom and ginger invigorates the cake.
I think this cake was supposed to make me change my outlook on fall, or perhaps help me add another to my list of ‘fall perfect’ things
Spiced Applesauce Cake with ‘Buttercream’ Frosting
- 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
- 1 cup applesauce (sweetened is fine)
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ginger powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup soft non-dairy, non-hydrogenated butter (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free Spread)
- 1 lb confectioners’ sugar (use organic, non-bone-char-filtered for vegan option)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons or more almond or coconut milk
- Chocolate sprinkles, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a medium round baking pan with oil and set aside
- Mix the molasses and applesauce in a large mixing bowl
- In a second bowl, combine the flour, ginger powder, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, mix well to combine
- Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt, mix well
- Fold the dry ingredients into the molasses-applesauce mixture, and stir until evenly moistened
- Do not over mix, as it will beat out the air
- Pour into the greased baking pan
- Bake for 35 – 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
- Let the cake cool for a few minutes in the pan, then turn it onto a wire rack to cool completely
- To make the frosting, cream butter until smooth and begins to fluff
- Add the confectioners’ sugar and whip for another few minutes, adding vanilla and milk
- Beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes; check and add 1 or 2 tablespoons more of milk to achieve the right consistency
- Cover the icing with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use, and rewhip before using
- To frost cake, set cake on a plate or cake stand and use a palette knife or offset spatula to spread frosting over the top and sides of cake until entirely covered
- Sprinkle cake with chocolate sprinkles if desired
I have a sweet tooth, there’s no denying it, and I don’t make excuses for it –
I own it… which is why I’m always ten pounds away from my ideal weight.
I love healthy food too, almost as much as I love junk food, so I’m constantly on the lookout for food that is all healthy, sweet and junk-ey.
Because let’s face it, as blasÃ© as I am about my sweet tooth, the potential health implications aren’t lost on me.
So while I’m trying to put my days of polishing off a pint of ice cream in two servings behind me, I still like to indulge.
This is where recipes like this sweet cashew cream comes in; it satisfies the sweet tooth but it’s not all junk food.
Cashew cream is used mainly in raw-food diets as a substitute for dairy; raw cashews are soaked overnight, and blended into a smooth cream that can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes.
For this sweet cashew cream, I used roasted and salted cashews –
Roasted cashews are sweeter with a rich nutty flavour.
And salt is the greatest flavour enhancer.
Sweet Cashew Cream
- 1 cup roasted salted cashews (you can use cashew butter too)
- 1 cup vanilla almond milk (depends on desired thickness)
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- A drop of vanilla extract
- Sprinkles (optional)
- In a blender add almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract and cashews
- Blend until smooth
- Add a teaspoon of sprinkles if you want
- Store in an airtight container and seal tightly, it’ll keep in the fridge for several days
This sauce is amazing! It’s delicious; I slather it over bagels, toast and crackers.
It’s wonderful over ice cream, cakes, and other pastries, and as a dip for fruit.
I like to experiment with other nut butters too, almond butter, peanut butter, etc.
I woke up very early this morning to get to work for a 7AM conference call; living in a time zone hours behind the rest of the world is a pain sometimes.
I still wish I were an early riser though; just before 8, I saw the sun shimmer and glow, bursting its way onto the morning sky, and thought “so that’s what sunrise looks like” I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen a sunrise, It looked so yellow and dramatic.
Speaking of meetings… we usually have team meetings on Mondays at my place of work.
We take turns chairing these meetings, and whoever’s turn it is to chair is supposed to bring treats – usually muffins, bagels and the sort.
And for as long as I’ve been there, like clockwork I’ve always brought banana bread!
This isn’t because I love banana bread, or that I make killer banana bread; on the contrary, I don’t make it – I buy it from Capers and it’s easy.
Whenever it ‘s been my Monday to chair, I’d pop into Capers on Sunday night and pick up a loaf of banana bread, or better yet beg someone to get it for me.
I’ve literally been this lazy for years – until last month.
Maybe it was the excitement of the season but it suddenly seemed ridiculously boring to do yet another store-bought banana bread.
Perhaps I was in festive baking mood, I thought about the oatmeal coconut and almond cookies I made for the half-marathon and figured it’ll make a pleasant morning snack
This time I opted to add pomegranate molasses. I’ve been on a pomegranate molasses kick lately; I put it in everything for that sour tart taste.
Oatmeal Coconut and Almond Cookies w/ Pomegranate Molasses
- Â¼ cup butter
- Â¼ cup turbinado sugar
- 1 medium banana, mashed
- 2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3-4 tablespoons nut milk
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 Â¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour (regular whole wheat flour works too)
- 1 scant teaspoon baking soda
- Â½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- Â½ cup sliced almonds
- Â¼ teaspoon of salt
- Â½ teaspoon of nutmeg (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy
- Add banana, molasses, milk and vanilla and mix well
- Add the dry ingredients (the remaining ingredients) and mix well with a spatula.
- The dough should stick together, depending on the kind of flour you use; you may need to add a few tablespoons of milk or flour (until cookie dough consistency is reached)
- Place spoonfuls of cookies 2 inches apart and flatten slightly with a fork
- Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until they begin to brown around the edges.
- Cool cookies in cookie sheets for about 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
I have a confession to make: whenever I’m at Ikea I always end up at the food market, I usually ponder how bizarre it is to get excited about food from a furniture store, and I always walk away with some lingonberry jam and Daim.
I love lingonberry jam…
It’s one of those preserves that has a delicious balance of sweetness and tartness – it’s used as a condiment in sweet and savoury dishes in Scandinavia where it grows wild.
I usually stir it into my porridge, use it in thumbprint cookies, or just on toast or pancakes.
I initially used lingonberry jam in this pie only because I was out of blueberry jam – which is what the recipe I found calls for.
This pie is buttery, sweet and slightly tart – a simple and truly lovely dessert.
It’s based on the traditional Icelandic ‘wedded bliss cake’, which from what I’ve gathered uses rhubarb or prune jam, but I think lingonberry jam works perfectly here too.
This first time I made it, I served it with vanilla sauce (using Bird’s Custard Powder).
It’s good with whipped cream, or ice cream or plain.
It’s also one of those pies that tastes better the next day – I call them ‘next day pies’
Oatmeal & Lingonberry Jam Pie (slightly adapted from The Amateur Icelandic Chef)
- 200g butter, room temperature (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free Spread)
- 170g oatmeal
- 170g plain flour
- 100g caster sugar
- 1tsp bicarbonate
- lingonberry jam
- Preheat the oven to 350ËšF.
- Add the butter, oatmeal, flour, sugar and bicarbonate into a large bowl and work together with your hands OR add all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until you get a fine sandy textured dough.
- Take 2/3 of the dough and push into a buttered (or parchment lined) cake dish with your hands.
- Spread the jam over and then sprinkle the rest of the dough over the jam.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
I woke up this morning, looked outside my window and missed summer – for a brief moment, I longed for strawberries and daylight beyond 4pm.
I saw some pale-looking strawberries at the store this afternoon, and was almost tempted to get a few to make strawberry icebox cake.
I wish we had an abundance of strawberries in the winter.
I’m bringing dessert for a dinner on Christmas Eve and I still haven’t figured what I’m going to make.
The strawberry icebox cake still looks promising, except I feel it’s a summer dessert.
The last time I made icebox cake was back in August, and I used digestive biscuits that time.
Strawberry Icebox Cake II
To make whipped coconut cream, refrigerate a can of coconut milk overnight, or freeze for the few hours.
This is so that the cream (coconut fat) would rise to the top and harden.
Open the chilled can of coconut and scoop out the fat leaving behind the watery liquid.
Combine the coconut with 1/3 cup of icing sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla, whip until light and fluffy.
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries, washed
- 3 1/4 whipped coconut cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 400g pack of Digestive biscuits
- Slice strawberries, save some nice ones for garnishing and set aside
- Grab a baking pan or a nice serving pan
- Spread dollop of whipped coconut cream on the bottom of the pan
- Start by layering with digestives, then more whipped cream and then add strawberries.
- Repeat until you run out of strawberries, the last layer is usually whipped coconut cream, then comes the garnish.
- Garnish with your nice looking strawberries, or drizzle some melted chocolate over, or whatever pretty garnish you dream up.