Recipe Revamping: Lemon Bundt

“The world as best as I remember it….”

A musician named, Rich Mullins, released an album years ago titled, “The World As Best As I Remember It.” The songs in the album challenged folks to think about what they thought they knew, to consider how our current perceptions can affect memories and views of “history,” to understand that much is simply “as best as we remember it.”

Food memories are often “as best as we remember it” because the emotions around them can cloud or enhance what we remember. For example, when I was pregnant with my second child, I simply could not eat iceberg lettuce. It made me so sick that to this day I cannot eat it. What’s interesting is that when I think about iceberg lettuce now, I don’t seem to have memories of eating it ever, though my parents will tell you that I most definitely did, and for a time, wouldn’t eat any other type of lettuce as a child.

Another example is a friend whose mother always made cake from a box for his birthday which was the only time his mother ever baked, so in his memory, his mother made the best cakes ever. As a grown up, after eating one of my homemade cakes, his mother made him a cake from a box, and he couldn’t believe the difference in taste because he was sure his mother’s cake would win the “best ever” taste test over my homemade cake, which he had to admit, it didn’t.

This week I received an email from someone whose grandmother used to make a lemon bundt cake that held fond memories for her. She wanted to be make the cake for her granddaughter but realized that with all her granddaughter’s food allergies she couldn’t. So, she asked if I might help her find a way to recreate the cake so that it tasted and looked just like her own grandmother’s recipe.

Her grandmother’s recipe called for 3 cups of all purpose flour, 1 cup of butter, 2 1/2 cups of sugar, 6 eggs, and 1 cup of sour cream in addition to the salt, baking soda and lemon juice. When I read the recipe, I realized that in addition to the allergy substitutions, the cake needed a health-makeover as well!

Substituting and recreating the lemon bundt cake:

The Flour: Since the granddaughter needed to be gluten free I opted to use King Arthur’s gluten free blend, but to make the cake a bit healthier, I chose the whole grain blend instead of the straight rice flour blend and reduced the flour to 2 1/2 cups.

The butter: The granddaughter’s dairy allergy meant substituting the butter with something else, but to make it healthier as well, I decided to use olive oil which has good fats and to reduce the amount to 2/3 of a cup. Because I didn’t want a heavy olive oil flavor, I used the extra light version.

The sugar: 2 1/2 cups of sugar is a lot! My friend didn’t ask me to do anything about the sugar, but I couldn’t help myself. I opted to use a combination of agave and truvia. To create the exact same sweetness as the original cake, I used 2/3 cup agave with 1/2 cup truvia. To make the came so I’d like it, which meant it being much less sweet, I reduced both amounts by half. So, folks can choose what they’d prefer.

The eggs: Six eggs is a lot! I reduced the amount by half and added some water to help fill out the liquid ingredients. Since I was using the agave which is a liquid, between the agave and the added water, the reduction in eggs was fine.

The sour cream: Since the granddaughter had a dairy allergy, I couldn’t use the sour cream, so I opted to make a buttermilk from soy milk and lemon juice but I reduced the amount to 1/2 since it was a liquid as opposed to the solid sour cream, which reduced the amount of fat in the cake.

The flavoring and leavening: I added baking powder to the baking soda since it was a gluten free cake and I used fresh lemons to achieve the most lemony taste by grating the peel and then squeezing the juice.

The cake came out amazing! When I served it to company, which included my friend, she said it tasted just like her grandmother’s. So, now she had her grandmother’s cake to serve only allergy friendly and as a much healthier version!

Lemon Bundt Cake


2 ½ cups Gluten Free Flour blend (I used King Arthur’s whole grain blend)

2 tsp gluten free baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp freshly grated lemon peel (from fresh lemons is the best way to go)

2/3 cup extra light olive oil

1/3 to 2/3 cup Agave (use higher amount if you like a sweet cake)

1/4 to ½ cup Truvia (use higher amount if you like a sweet cake)

½ cup “buttermilk” (I used soy milk mixed with 1/2 tbsp lemon juice)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (depending on size of lemons, you will need anywhere from 4 to 6 lemons)

1/4 cup plain water

Baking Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a bundt pan for use.  (I coated the pan with vegan butter, and then I sprinkled the pan with ground flaxseed.)

2.  Mix the flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the lemon peel and mix well. Set aside.

3.  Mix oil, Agave, Truvia, buttermilk, eggs, lemon juice and water.

4.  Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Combine well until the dry ingredients are completely moistened.  Batter will be thick.

5.  Evenly spread batter into bundt pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

6.  Cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling completely.


Autumn Appetites: Pumpkin Bundt Cake

“But I really don’t have anything to complain about, though….”

I ran into a friend today who asked how I and the family were doing. Because he was a friend, I felt comfortable telling him about the emotional roller coaster the family has been on since May with two children being in car accidents, my husband’s father dying, trying to figure out what caused a seizure for my middle child, our oldest in angst about what to do next year after her senior year of college, our youngest camping in our bedroom since May, suddenly not wanting to sleep alone, health issues I have been having, a cousin’s wife struggling with a recurrence of cancer, and the transition to another full school year of responsibilities for both my husband and myself.

After briefing him on all that, he asked how in the world we were holding up, and I told him that we were actually doing okay because we continually and daily reminded ourselves about the many things we have to be grateful for in comparison to other things happening in the world. We aren’t living in any of the places which have been devastated by the recent onslaught of hurricanes. All our children are alive and well physically. We have jobs, a home, provisions. Our friends and family are numerous and great supports to us. My husband’s mom is not alone as she copes with the death of my father-in-law. My own parents are holding their own despite setbacks here and there.

Our gratitude list can go on and on, and some days we just sit and speak that list as a way of thanksgiving for all we do have, even in the midst of these more emotionally taxing times. For us, it really is the only way to live when life gets tougher than we’d like.

Sometimes, food allergies and health issues can be taxing and make us weary, too. We wish we didn’t have to eat a certain way. We miss and crave foods we used to be able to eat. We are frustrated by the time and energy and costs it takes to eat non-traditionally. We don’t like being the odd people out. We want to complain. We want to shake our fists at the universe.

I felt this the other day when the only options for food at a church gathering were ones I couldn’t eat, despite the number of times I have tried to make the church aware of just how many people with food allergies attend the church.

In these situations, though, I once again find myself thinking about the ways I am blessed. For those of us with food issues, we live currently in a time when options for alternative foods exist. Many of us also live in countries where we have access to nontraditional ingredients and food. More and more restaurants are offering options to meet dietary needs. Blogs and cookbooks are focusing on our health issues. Schools and hospitals are enacting changes to better help care for folks with allergies. Stores like BJs and Costco are selling nontraditional ingredients for cheaper. Those of us with food issues provide an opportunity for others to learn and to show compassion and understanding. Those of us with food issues have an opportunity to practice compassion and understanding when folks don’t learn and show compassion.

Again, the list of things to be grateful for about food issues can go on and on, if we truly consider them.

The other day, I was grateful for pumpkin. Pureed pumpkin is awesome for food issues because it is a healthy, vitamin-filled vegetable which can be used as a substitute for eggs as well as fats. Plus its orange hue makes food pretty, and it tastes yummy.

So, I decided I would make three pumpkin bundt cakes for some upcoming weekend events. For one, we ate the cake topped with an apple compote I made in the crockpot as a snack. For the other, folks put vanilla ice cream on top for a dessert. For the third, people just ate it as is for breakfast.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake


1 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas

2 cups cooked, pureed pumpkin

3 eggs

3/4 cup extra light olive oil

1 tbsp minced ginger paste

1 cup agave

3 cups gluten free flour blend (I used King Arthur’s whole grain blend)

2 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan with vegan butter and coat with golden ground flaxseed.
  2. Blend together the bananas, pumpkin, eggs, oil ginger paste and agave. Set aside.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, along with the apple cider vinegar, and mix quickly just until the dry ingredients are moistened and incorporated.
  5. Evenly spread the batter into the prepare bundt pan.
  6. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the cake is puffed, golden and a toothpick inserted comes out with only a few crumbs sticking to it.
  7. Cool in the bundt pan on a wiring cooling rack for at 15 to 25 minutes. Turn the cake upside down onto the wire cooling rack, removing the pan, and allowing the cake to cool completely.