Creative Cooking: Free Form Tomato Vegetable Tart

“The season is ending….”

While Autumn brings the delights of apple and pumpkin season, it also means the end of the garden-fresh tomatoes, eggplants and kale, which arguably taste so much better than store-purchased varieties. To take advantage of the last of these veggies, courtesy of my sister-in-law’s and mother-in-law’s gardens, I decided I’d make a vegetable tart to go with the vegan roast I had decided to make for dinner last night.

I forewarn folks that this is not my typical recipe – it is not quick to make. It requires time but I assure you it’s so worth the effort, which is the reason I put aside my usual laziness in favor of making the tart. I also figured out how to do several of the steps at once to make the cooking more efficient, which I’ll include in the instructions.

The key to a good tart is a good crust. When I googled, though, I discovered that recipes seemed to think you needed to use no less than 1 1/2 to 2 cups of butter, eggs, white flour, and a couple of teaspoons of salt, and in some case, also sugar – all of which I didn’t agree. So, the first step was to create a tart dough which I could stand by. That meant reducing and substituting for the butter and salt, omitting eggs, and using gluten free flour. To enhance the flavor of the crust and keep the crust together without as much butter, I opted to pulse in fresh basil leaves which worked beautifully.

The second important ingredient to a good tart is the flavor from the veggies. What I found, though, is that most vegetable tart recipes seem to rely on cheese – a lot of cheese – which does give flavor but camouflages the flavor of the veggies. So, I needed to find ways to enhance the flavors so cheese would not be necessary. This meant roasting the eggplant, caramelizing onions to mix with the kale, and letting the tomatoes rest for a bit with a salt-garlic mixture.

The result was a wonderful tart which we thoroughly enjoyed with dinner and which I hope you will, too. I’m thinking it will become a go-to for holiday celebrations because it was so pretty, flavorful, and vegan.

Free Form Tomato-Vegetable Tart

Ingredients:

two small eggplants (about 4-5 inches long and 2-3 inches wide)

2 cups gluten free flour blend

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves (packed means push the leaves down; if you loosely put them in, it would be 2 cups)

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup soy free vegan butter, cut into small pieces (two 8 tbsp bars)

1 tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar but balsamic or white are good if you want a different flavor)

1/4 cup water

eight medium tomatoes (about 3 inches by 3 inches; I used two different types for color contrast)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp minced garlic

8 oz sliced onions (about two cups; I used sweet white onions)

olive oil

5 oz fresh kale and/or spinach leaves (about 3 cups packed down)

1/4 cup vegan parmesan

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, sliced into thin slices

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prick the eggplants several times with fork tines to release steam while they are roasting. When the oven is preheated, place the eggplants on a small cookie sheet and roast them for about 40 minutes. When they are done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. Do not turn off the oven, because you will be cooking the tart at the same temperature.
  2. While the oven is preheating, put the gluten free flour, the basil leaves and the salt into a food processor. Pulse until they are thoroughly mixed together and the basil leaves are small pieces incorporated into the flour. Add the vegan butter and pulse until small butter pieces are incorporated throughout the flour mixture. Mix the vinegar with the water and pour into the food processor. Pulse until you have a cohesive dough. Use a rubber scraper to remove the dough from the food processor onto a piece of saran wrap. Wrap the dough and shape into a disk. Place into the refrigerator. (If you do not have a food processor, use a pastry knife or two regular knives to chop first the basil and then the butter into the flour, and then mix the liquid into the flour with a fork until a batter forms.)
  3. After putting the eggplant into the oven and the tart dough into the fridge, slice the tomatoes into about 1/4 inch slices and put them into a large bowl. (I used two different colors of tomatoes [four of each] so that they’d look prettier in the tart, but all of the same type works, too.) To the tomatoes in the bowl, add the salt and minced garlic and gently toss to coat all the tomatoes. Then just let the tomatoes sit. While they are sitting, they will release their juices, which is what you want to happen.
  4. After getting the tomatoes ready, put the sliced onions into a shallow, wide cooking pan and mix with just enough olive oil to coat the onions. Turn the burner to low heat and allow the onions to slowly cook for about 20 minutes, stirring just every once and while. When the onions are completely caramelized, they will be a golden brown, soft, and look like they have a sticky sauce on them. When they are done, add the kale and/or spinach leaves and cook for about two minutes, just until the leaves begin to wilt and the onions and kale/spinach are well mixed together. When done, turn off the burner and let them cool.
  5. By now, your eggplants will be done and cooled a bit. Peel off the skins (this is easily done with clean fingers), chop the eggplants into small pieces, and stir the pieces into the onion-kale mixture.
  6. After that is done, drain the liquid from the tomatoes.
  7. Remove the tart dough from the fridge, and on a piece of floured parchment or directly on a cookie sheet, roll the dough into a 16 inch circle. (I used a 16 inch round pizza pan which meant simply rolling the dough out to the edges of the pan with a small roller that fit directly in the pan. If you use the parchment paper, you will need to transfer the dough to a sheet pan large enough to fit the circle of dough.)
  8. Sprinkle the vegan parmesan onto the dough, leaving a one inch margin around the edge of the dough. (The parmesan will help absorb any extra moisture from the vegetables so you do want to include it. If you would rather not for any reason, I suggest using a 1/4 cup of gluten free bread crumbs instead.)
  9. Carefully put the onion-kale-eggplant mixture on top of the sprinkled parmesan, leaving that one inch margin along the edges of the dough. Then, if using two kinds of tomatoes, alternate the tomatoes in circles on top of the onion-kale-eggplant mixture. Make sure the veggies are even all the way around.
  10. Then, using clean fingers and the help of a rubber scraper, gently push up the one inch margin of dough to form an outside crust around the vegetables. Once the crust is formed, sprinkle the sliced basil on top of the tomatoes to the edge of the crust.
  11. In the still preheated 400 degree oven, place the tart and bake for a total of 50 minutes, turning the tart around halfway through the cooking time. When the tart is done, the dough would have puffed a bit, be golden brown, and firm to the touch.
  12. Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before cutting into it, so that all the juices will settle, and it will be easier to cut. Use a very sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the tart into slices.

 

 

 

 

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Creative Cooking: Orange Chocolate Marble Bundt

“Baking grief….”

Last weekend, our family attended yet another funeral. In five years, we’ve been to over 20, a majority for friends who died too young from cancer. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you can predict what I did with my grief. I went to the kitchen.

Our friend who had died had been a musician, full of fun, and who liked to laugh and keep people on their toes. So, as I thought about his personality, I wanted to create a dessert in his honor, something whimsical. Now, I know that sounds strange – how does one make a food whimsical, but I was determined.

I began by considering types of desserts, and since you all know how lazy I am, a cake was the default choice over cookies or pies or pastries. Also, because I consider Bundt cakes to be pretty and special, that also was an obvious choice.

The question was what type of Bundt cake. I wanted something a bit unusual, and as I thought about foods which were a bit different, those chocolate oranges came to my mind. I would combine an orange flavored batter with a chocolate one to make a marble cake. I wanted it to have a bit more whimsy, though, so I also decided to add mini chocolate chips to the orange batter so half the batter would be orange-chocolate and the other orange-chocolate chip.

Since I knew there’d be so much sugar from the chocolate chips, I used agave and monk fruit sweetener and unsweetened orange juice and unsweetened oat milk to reduce the added sugars in the batter. I also wanted to reduce the fat somewhat so I opted to use mostly egg whites and a lower amount of olive oil than usually called for in a Bundt cake.

The result was a tasty cake which was also pretty, and to my mind, rather whimsical – a good tribute to our friend.

Orange-Pumpkin Marble Cake

Ingredients:

3/4 cup unsweetened oat milk

1/2 cup unsweetened orange juice

2 1/2 cup gluten free flour blend (I used a whole grain blend)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp dried orange peel

1/2 cup extra light olive oil

1/2 cup agave

1/2 cup classic monk fruit sweetener

1/2 cup liquid egg whites

1 large egg

1/2 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

second 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the Bundt pan. I used vegan soy free butter and then sprinkled ground flax seed to coat the pan.
  2. Combine the oat milk with the orange juice and let it sit to thicken.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange peel, and set aside.
  4. To the oat milk mixture, add the oil, agave, monk fruit sweetener, egg whites and egg. Mix well.
  5. Divide the batter so that 60% is in one bowl and 40% is in a second bowl.
  6. In the microwave, melt the mini chocolate chips by microwaving for 20 seconds, stirring, and then microwaving for an additional 10 seconds so that you can completely stir the chips to a smooth consistency. Let it cool for a minute.
  7. Add a spoonful of the 40% batter to the melted chocolate and stir well. Add a second spoonful and stir well. Then add all of the chocolate mixture to the 40% batter bowl and mix until well combined.
  8. To the remaining 60% of the orange batter, add the second 1/2 cup of mini chips and stir until combined.
  9. To make the Bundt cake, drop alternating spoonfuls of the two batters in a layer. Then continue to layer the batter with alternate spoonfuls of the batter which are opposite to the layer below. When all the batter has been used, gently tap the pan on the counter so the layers can settle.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until the cake has puffed, is golden, and a toothpick inserted into it comes out clean.
  11. Remove the pan to a cooling rack and allow the cake to cool a minimum of 25 minutes, but longer is better. Then remove the cake from the pan to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  12. You can enjoy the cake as is or if you want to make it a bit more special, drizzle melted chocolate over the top and sprinkle with finely chopped bits of candied orange peel and chocolate.

 

 

Creative Cooking: Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins

“Yes, a pick me up….”

When I was a younger mom with younger children, no one told me that I should consider those the “easier” years of being a mom. Perpetually exhausted from lack of sleep, newly learning how to be a parent, mentally and emotionally perplexed by each new developmental-stage challenge, it can seem like those parenting years are the most difficult.

Today, as an older mom of both grown and teenage children, I sometimes yearn for those- what I know now to be – “easier” days of parenting. Back then, there were challenges but most everything was within our control as parents. We could enforce bed times, make rules for behavior, put the children in car seats and strollers to keep them safe, and find a myriad of books which told us how to toilet train, get them to sleep in their own beds, and encourage their emotional abilities to interact with the world around them.

With older children, the challenges are much more challenging and mostly out of our control to fix, the children are not bound by anything we say or offer, and the few books which are out there agree that all we can do is be there for our children and hope and pray for the best.

So, some days, I just need a little pick-me-up, a treat, to keep me going in the middle of a long day of driving between colleges and home or helping with a problem long-distance by phone. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you already know that I fully believe in comfort eating now and then. Obviously, you don’t want to overindulge all the time in too many “not as good for you” foods, nor do you want to use food as a way of dealing with your problems, because it doesn’t work. At the same time, a well-timed small treat once in a while when you’re in need of something to give you a bit of energy – physically, mentally, and emotionally – is not necessarily a bad thing.

Hence, this week’s post on vegan, gluten free chocolate chip muffins. They hit the spot, as they say. I like to make them as mini muffins because just one mini muffin usually does the trick for me, but the children prefer them regular size because otherwise they’d be likely to eat three or four of the little ones.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened vegan/plant based milk (we use soy or flax or oat)

1 tbsp vinegar (choose white, apple cider, or raspberry)

2 cups your favorite gluten free flour blend (I like King Arthur’s whole grain blend)

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup coconut sugar or monk fruit golden sweetener

6 tbsp plant oil (we use safflower or avocado or extra light olive oil)

2 tsp gluten free vanilla extract

Baking Instructions:
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 regular-sized muffin tin or 24 mini-muffin tin with appropriately sized cupcake liners or grease the tins with your preferred method, and set aside.
    2. Mix together the “milk” and vinegar to make a “buttermilk”. Allow it to thicken.
    3. Combine together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and chocolate chips.
    4. Add to the “buttermilk”, the coconut sugar, oil, and vanilla extract.
    5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until all dry ingredients are moistened.
    6. Evenly divide the batter among the muffin tins of choice.
    7. Bake in the preheated oven until puffed, golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Larger muffins will take about 20-25 minutes. Mini muffins will take 10-15 minutes.
    8. Let the muffins cool in the tins for 5 minutes; then remove them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Healthy Habits: Pumpkin Oat Bundt Cake

“Have you ever tried….?”

I am continually amazed by just how many items there are on the market these days for folks trying to eat healthier and/or allergy friendly. Just a decade ago, I was driving distances to little, out of the way, specialty stores to try to find this or that. Now, I walk into the grocery store, ten minutes down the road, and every week, something new is on the shelf.

Recently, a friend asked me if I had ever tried monk fruit sweeteners since she knew I didn’t bake with sugar. Since I had not actually tried it, I thought I’d research it and give it a try.

Some things for you to know about monk fruit sweeteners:

  1. Research seems to indicate that monk fruit as a fruit does not increase blood sugar levels in diabetics, but always check the sweetener blends to make sure there are not other added sugars which may increase blood sugar levels.
  2. As a substitute for sugar, monk fruit and monk fruit sweetener blends are more expensive than even other substitutes on the market (like agave or coconut sugar or truvia). So, if finances are tight, it may not be your first option.
  3. Also, as a substitute, monk fruit sugar blends are not as easy to find in your local supermarkets as other options. I could only find it at one grocery store a couple of towns over.
  4. Monk fruit sweeteners can have a bit of an after taste, which some folks may like but some really don’t.
  5. Monk fruit sweeteners come in “classic” and “golden”. Classic is supposed to be similar to white sugar. Golden mimics brown sugar.
  6. The monk fruit sweetener packages say, “1 to 1,” for use. I would strongly discourage folks from doing so. It is really, really sweet. In the recipes I tried, using half or less worked just fine.
  7. I also discovered that, despite instructions, the monk fruit sweetener blend tended to work better in baked goods if you mixed them with the wet ingredients instead of the dry. The monk fruit sweetener mixed with the dry ingredients in brownies rose to the top during cooking, mottling the appearance and affecting the brownie texture. Dissolving the sweetener with the wet ingredients, however, alleviated both issues.

In the midst of my experiments with the monk fruit sweeteners, I needed to make a cake for a friend with diabetes who also needs to add more fiber into his diet. I decided to create an oat-filled pumpkin bundt cake, using the monk fruit sweetener. The result was a moist, tasty cake.

Pumpkin Oat Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

For the pan and streusel:

vegan soy free butter

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1/4 cup quick cooking gluten free rolled oats

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp golden monk fruit sweetener

1/4 cup quick cooking gluten free rolled oats

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp monk fruit sweetener

1 tbsp melted vegan soy free butter

For the batter:

2 cups cooked, pureed pumpkin

1 tbsp minced ginger/ginger paste

1 cup extra light olive oil

1 cup golden monk fruit sweetener

3/4 liquid egg whites

2 cups gluten free high fiber/high protein flour blend (I used Bob’s garbanzo bean blend)

1 cup gluten free brown rice flour blend

2 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp cloves

2 tbsp vinegar

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare a bundt pan by greasing it with vegan soy free butter.
  3. Then, mix the ground flax seed, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and monk fruit sweetener. Carefully coat the inside of the bundt pan with the mixture. At least a quarter of the mixture should be left over when you are done.
  4. To the leftover mixture add the additional oats, cinnamon, and monk fruit sweetener. Combine and then mix in the melted butter. Mix until all dry ingredients are moistened. Set aside.
  5. Combine together the pumpkin, ginger, oil oil, monk fruit sweetener, and egg whites. Set aside.
  6. Mix together the garbanzo bean flour blend, the brown rice flour blend, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well, adding the vinegar.
  8. Carefully spoon about 1/3 of the batter into the bundt pan.
  9. Sprinkle the oat mixture over the batter.
  10. Then, carefully spoon the remaining 2/3 of the batter over the oat mixture.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes until the cake is puffed, golden, and a toothpick inserted into it comes out clean.
  12. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for at a minimum of 15 to 25 minutes.
  13. Remove the cake from the pan and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.
  14. Enjoy!

Healthy Habits: Baked Pears

“He has to be careful about his levels….”

Every summer, we head to the Adirondack mountains to work at the family forest my husband’s family has run for over 60 years. Since I am allergic to everything God has created in nature, I act as the chief cook as opposed to wandering around in the woods, measuring and counting trees. As the chef, I am often cooking meals for anywhere between eight to 20 people for any given meal. This means often taking into account not just my own food allergies but other people’s food restrictions as well.

This year, I needed to be careful about foods which would spike glucose levels for diabetics, so I was trying to avoid making a lot of cakes and cookies, and I opted instead for fruit desserts like a blueberry cobbler which I made with oat biscuits which used no sugar for either the blueberries or the biscuits.

This morning, however, I needed a dessert for a brunch and wanted something healthy but not necessarily a lot of work. At the store, I noticed that they had ripe Bartlett pears on sale, so I purchased those and set about making something for the brunch. As I googled, I noticed that the most common pear dessert is to poach them, but that required watching them on the stove and thickening syrups and such, all of which was too much work.

So, I decided that I’d simply bake them with a little bit of cinnamon and honey and whole rolled oats.  The result was a nice, light dessert, which was perfect for the brunch and well received. One person said that she didn’t usually like pears but liked the dessert. So, I call that a success.

Baked Pears

Ingredients:

8 ripe Bartlett pears

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp hot water

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp very finely chopped ginger, almost like a paste

1/2 cup gluten free whole rolled oats

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1 tbsp vegan soy free butter, melted

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut pears in half, remove stems by pulling them down the middle to remove the hard core, and then core out the center seeds. (I just use a small spoon.)
  3. Lay the pears in one or two pans, which are large enough to hold them.
  4. Mix together the honey, hot water, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger until well blended. Drizzle over the pears.
  5. Combine the oats with the cinnamon, cloves and melted vegan butter. Spoon them evenly into the holes left by coring out the seeds.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 30 minutes (will depend on the ripeness of your pears) until the pears are golden and warm.
  7. You can eat them as is or serve them with ice cream or whipped cream.

Healthy Habits: Oatmeal Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

“It’s been soooo long….”

If you were to peruse the recipes on this site, you would notice that the cake recipes far outnumber cookie recipes. There are several reasons for that. The first is that cookies require so much more time than cakes. When one is pressed for time to make a dessert, cookies are not the most efficient to make.

The second is that “healthy” cookies are trickier to make. Adding fruits and vegetables to cakes is easy. Using them in cookies usually just means a really soft cookie which won’t keep for more than a couple of days. Swapping whole grain flours adds some protein and fiber but if you want a cookie which isn’t dry and crumbly, you still need a substantial amount of fat because cookies don’t usually require much in the way of liquid ingredients, which precludes using liquid plant oils, which affects the taste and texture of cookies anyway. And while there are many options on the market to substitute for the sugar, the fact is that they do affect the texture and taste of cookies.

The third is that I find that folks have a way of eating a whole lot of cookies in a sitting because their size and lack of filling makes eating many easy to do. This, of course, is not healthy eating, so it is easier to make cakes and control the portions.

This week, however, my son asked if I would make cookies. As he reminded me, I haven’t made any since Christmas which is when I usually spend weeks making many different type of holiday cookies for the season.

I wanted to make a cookie which I would feel good about my son eating, and of course, I also wanted it to taste good, because it’s not worth eating something that doesn’t, in my opinion. And I wanted it to be a cookie where one would fill him and not make him want a second or third or more in one sitting.

After some thinking I decided that I’d make an oatmeal cookie because oats have protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. I also decided I’d make them with chocolate chips so I could use the sugar from the chips as opposed to adding sugar, and I would use dark chocolate chips because dark chocolate chips would have less sugar and more beneficial flavonoids. I also opted to make them vegan so that I could make them in the future for the vegan side of the family. Finally I added some chopped non-crystalized, candied ginger for a special flavor.

The cookies came out great and fit all my parameters. They had healthy oats, less sugar, a great taste, and eating just one was satisfying.

Oatmeal Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup gluten free whole rolled oats, processed into oat flour

1 1/2 cup gluten free whole rolled oats, as is

1 1/2 cup whole grain gluten free flour blend

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life’s 69% dark chocolate chips)

2 to 4 tbsp non-crystalized, candied ginger (use less if you just want a hint; more if you want a more pronounced ginger taste)

1 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life’s 69% dark chocolate chips)

3/4 cup vegan, soy free butter

1/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup honey

Baking Instructions:

  1. You will wait to preheat the oven because the dough needs to be refrigerated first.
  2. In a food processor, process the one cup of oats until you have something resembling flour. To the oat “flour” add the whole rolled oats, gluten free flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, process the one cup of dark chocolate chips with the candied ginger until you have small, fine pieces. Add it to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Stir in the remaining one cup of dark chocolate chips.
  5. In a mixer, cream the vegan butter. Add the applesauce and honey and mix well, scraping down the sides as needed.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until the dough is well blended.
  7. Cover the bowl and put the dough into the fridge for at least one hour and no more than 24.
  8. When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cover cookies sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Using a quarter cup scoop, place level, quarter cup portions of the dough onto the cookies sheets with space in between to spread. Use a fork to crisscross the dough into a slightly flatter circle.
  10. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cookies are browned, larger, and slightly stiff to the touch.
  11. Put the cookie sheet on a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes. Remove the cookies to the wire cooling rack and allow them to cool completely.
  12. They can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

NOTE: These are large cookies because I always keep in mind that summer is a good time to make ice cream cookie sandwiches. *grin*  You can halve the size by using 2 level tablespoons instead and reducing the cooking time.

 

Summer Delights: Lemon Raspberry Cake

“I want it to taste like summer….”

I’m sure folks will understand when I say that certain items trigger memories for me. For example, whenever I see marbles at a store, visions of lying on my stomach in the dirt, shooting marbles with friends in the summertime immediately come to mind.  The smell of ginger always makes me think of my mother and all the wonderful gingery Korean foods she cooks. Hearing bells reminds me of the first time I went to a Christmas service at a church.

When it comes to food, I tend to have associations, too. For example, anything with lemons and berries conjures images of summer for me, and recently I wanted to make a cake for dessert which tasted like summer. By that, I meant a dessert which was light in both taste and texture, a cake which wouldn’t weigh heavily in the stomach after eating it on a hot day. A lemony cake with berries was the perfect choice.

I found a cake recipe online but, of course, it needed to be revamped to fit my allergy needs as well as needing to be altered to reduce all the sugar and fat.

The original recipe called for 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp of baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 1/4 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 4 eggs, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 cup buttermilk, and 1/3 cup lemon juice. I swapped in a whole grain gluten free flour blend for the flour; reduced the salt by 1/2, adding 1 tsp of lemon peel instead; cut the butter in half and used a vegan butter in its place; reduced the sweetener by 1/2 and substituted 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup truvia; used 1/4 egg whites plus 2 eggs instead of the original 4; and made my own “buttermilk” with 1 tbsp of lemon juice mixed with 1 cup of flax milk.

The result was a tasty, lemony cake which I just needed to “dress up”.

Raspberries are a wonderful complement to lemon, so I decided I would use Polaner’s Raspberry All-Fruit in the middle of the cake layers and put fresh raspberries on top. I just needed a frosting. Since I was feeling a bit lazy, as well as not wanting to wait, I didn’t want to take the time to make an ermine frosting which is the lightest frosting I know to make.  So, I opted to create an ermine-like frosting with store-bought items. I used Simple Mills vanilla frosting and mixed it with some tofu cream cheese and lemon juice, and I was delighted to discover that the texture was exactly like ermine frosting.

To complete the cake, I sprinkled chopped, fresh mint from my husband’s garden.  The cake was a hit.

Lemon Raspberry Cake

Cake Batter Ingredients:

3 cups favorite gluten free wholegrain flour blend

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp grated lemon peel

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/2 cup truvia

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup liquid egg white

2 eggs

1 cup flax milk mixed with 1 tbsp lemon juice (to make “buttermilk”)

1/3 cup lemon juice

Frosting Ingredients:

10 oz tub of Simple Mills Frosting

4 oz Toffuti cream cheese

1 tbsp lemon juice

Additions Ingredients:

Polaner Raspberry All Fruit

Fresh raspberries

Fresh mint leaves

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line two 9 inch round pans with parchment paper.
  2. Combine together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon peel. Set aside.
  3. In a mixer, beat the vegan butter until smooth, scraping down from the sides as needed.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the truvia and honey until well blended.
  5. Add the egg whites and eggs, one at a time, until well blended.
  6. Alternate adding and mixing the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  7. Blend in the lemon juice.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the cakes are puffed and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Let the cake layers cool in the pan on wire cooling racks.
  10. Make the frosting by mixing together the tub of frosting with the cream cheese and lemon juice until the frosting is light and airy.
  11. When the cake layers are cool enough, place one layer on your cake plate and frost it with a layer of the frosting.
  12. Using a spoon, drop small spoonfuls of the raspberry all fruit and carefully spread it over the frosting.
  13. Place the second cake layer on top of the all fruit layer, and use the remaining frosting to completely cover the sides and top of the cake.
  14. Arrange fresh raspberries on top of the cake, and chop and sprinkle the fresh mint leaves around the raspberries.