This weekend, we hosted our first house guests. John's mom and grandpa came to visit, and it was wonderful to explore the city, try new restaurants, and finally use our dining room table.
When I have guests for a weekend, I like to have a casual sweet treat for whenever the mood strikes. Nothing fancy, just a hunk of cake or some simple cookies to nibble on while we drink coffee and catch up.
Allison and I both share a love for this apple spice cake, and it's perfect for fall. But John's mom is vegan, and so am I (well... I'm trying. Parmesan cheese and I got back together for a while, and I'm trying to break it off). So the recipe needed a bit of tweaking. And I thought this might be a good thing to share with y'all, in case you ever have a house guest who has dietary restrictions. If you think you can't bake without sugar and eggs, you'd be surprised at how a few simple changes can make just about any recipe vegan-friendly.
So just to recap, vegan means no animal products. So no eggs, butter, milk, buttermilk, and for the most hardcore, no white sugar. It turns out that a lot of granulated white sugar is bleached in a process that uses cow bones. Ew. But fear not! There are some easy substitutions that won't compromise your flavor or texture.
Meet flaxseed! These little seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, and when they're whipped up with water, they take on the sticky consistency of eggs. They also have a nice nutty flavor, so they pair perfectly with this recipe. Just buzz them in a coffee grinder...
And mix with water in a blender (or use an immersion blender).
The flaxseed gets mixed in with sugar and oil. For vegans, use organic cane sugar. It's unbleached, so it doesn't use any animal products in its processing.
And in a separate bowl, mix together your dry ingredients.
Mix the wet and dry, and then add in chopped apples and pecans.
I made the mistake of letting my cake cool in the bundt pan for too long, so it stuck quite a bit. So mine looks... rustic. But with a tasty caramel drizzle, I promise your guests won't mind.
Vegan Apple Spice Cake
Adapted from this recipe by Martha Stewart
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups organic cane sugar
3 tablespoons flaxseed, ground in a spice grinder
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon water
4 Gala apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)
Nonstick cooking spray with flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray; set aside.
Combine ground flaxseed and water in a blender, and blend until thick. Set aside.
Working over a large sheet of parchment or wax paper, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; gather sifted ingredients into center of sheet; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine vegetable oil, sugar, and flaxseed mixture; mix on high speed until well combined.
Fold reserved parchment in half lengthwise; with mixer on medium speed, gradually shake in dry ingredients until just incorporated.
Add apples and nuts, to batter; mix to combine. Add vanilla, mixing until incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 70 - 75 minutes (I started checking mine at 1 hour, but ultimately it needed about 70 minutes)
Remove from oven, and cool slightly on a wire rack.
Invert cake onto rack; turn cake right-side up to cool completely on rack, and serve drizzled with caramel sauce.
Dairy-Free Caramel Sauce
1 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup water, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
3 tablespoons margarine (I use Earth Balance)
3 to 4 tablespoons almond milk (another non-dairy milk is fine too)
Heat a 1 1/2 quart to 2 quart pot or large frying pan with a thick, heavy base over medium-high heat. Add sugar. Stir with a whisk or wooden spoon every 10-15 seconds, for about a minute, until sugar starts to melt. Stir, nonstop, for about 2-3 minutes.
Add vanilla. When the sugar starts to turn just a little darker, or as dark as you want it and the water is almost gone, add margarine and stir nonstop until it melts. Let boil on medium heat for 2 to3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.
Add non-dairy milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue to boil it about 4 minutes, stirring every 20-30 seconds.
Turn the heat off on your stove, and let the caramel cool for about 20 minutes.