Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Grandma Trudie's Southern Apple Cake Made Gluten-Free

I was lucky enough to have three loving grandmas when I was younger: my mom's mom, my dad's mom and my stepfather's mom. All three were interesting, sweet women, and I miss them all now that they are gone. Each one had their own interests and kitchen passions.

My mom's mom was a Depression baby who collected cookbooks and loved to bake and I have many recipes in my card file from her kitchen experiments. Each summer we would plan lovely picnics where we would pick wildflowers, collect abandoned balls from a nearby public tennis court, and feast on deviled eggs, her special iced tea and her buttery cupcakes.

My dad's mom was a butcher's daughter and was known for her slow-cooked roasts and chops and for having an electric coffee percolator snuffling away in the corner of the kitchen when her best friend would come over for an afternoon of card playing and conversation. She was incredibly well-read and could polish off the Sunday crossword puzzle in expert time. In pen, no less.

My step-grandmother, Grandma Trudie, lived far away in Atlanta, Georgia, but would come up on the train for a week or two each year toting heavy suitcases filled with cans of my stepdad's favorite breakfast sausage and boxes of Nabisco cookies from the factory where she worked. She was a fantastic Southern cook and as a teen foodie I pestered her to explain how she made her Brunswick Stew, potato salad, and her moist apple cake. She was an intuitive cook that had most of her recipes in her head, so she'd smile when I'd ask her for measurements.

"Oh, I don't know, sugar", she'd say, "add about enough flour until the batter is right."

I'd knit my brow with youthful puzzlement and write something down to approximate what I saw her doing.

I had a hankering for my Grandma Trudie's Apple Cake last week and pulled out the framework of the recipe I had. It called for a small ("you know, small") bag of sweetened flaked coconut, but as I have a coconut-phobe in the house, I left it out. I also made adjustments to this treasured recipe to accommodate our gluten-free needs, so feel free to substitute wheat flour or your favorite GF flour blend).

Grandma Trudie's Southern Apple Cake

1-1/2 cups corn oil
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 large eggs

3 cups GF flour (I used a blend of 1 cup garbanzo bean flour and 2 cups
amaranth flour to use up some bags in the pantry; later used mix of sorghum, brown rice and white rice flours)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. xanthan gums

5 medium apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Grease and flour a 10 inch bundt pan.

Combine oil, sugar and brown sugar and blend until smooth. Beat eggs
in, one at a time, making sure batter is smooth after each addition.

Blend together dry ingredients: flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda
and salt. Gradually add to wet mixture, stirring until smooth.

Add in apples, walnuts and vanilla and mix until blended. Batter should be wet. Spoon into
prepared pan.

Bake for 1-1/2 hours, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted into
cake comes out clean. Cool in pan 10-15 minutes.

Then invert onto plate and then invert onto cooling rack.

You could glaze it, but Grandma Trudie always just served it plain and it would disappear quickly. I sprinkled a little powdered sugar on top just to make it blogworthy.

*I made this again with a cider reduction glaze that was outstanding. Cook 2 cups cider in pan until reduced to 1/2 cup. Watch carefully, or the burned pan will have to be thrown out. Add in enough confectioner's sugar to make stiff glaze (about 2 cups). Drizzle over cake when it has cooled completely. Let sit an hour or so to stiffen up.

This recipe will be submitted to a new blogging event: Family Recipes: Memories of Family, Food and Fun, which is being hosted by my fellow upstate New York foodie, The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch. This new event concentrates of family recipes, and this one sure brings back some happy memories of my Grandma Trudie. There's still time to join in the fun, as the deadline for this nostalgic event is May 23rd.


Shelby said...

Thanks for participating! I love your grandma's response on how much flour to put in the recipe....a real natural in the kitchen I would say!

Anonymous said...

mmm mmm good! Apple cake is the bomb.

Arlene Delloro said...

This cake looks delicious! I, too, chuckled at the "measurements." Reminded me of recipes in my mom's file: 2 cupped handsful of flour, for example.

Alicia Foodycat said...

It sounds delicious! How much coconut would you put in if there wasn't a coconut phobe in the house?

Rachel said...

I would say 1 cup of sweetened, flaked coconut would be just about right, Foodycat!

Cheryl Harris said...

that looks like a great high fiber flour blend!

Thistlemoon said...

That looks so good Rachel! :)

Ivy said...

I love apple cakes but I've never made it with coconut before which I love, so I might try it.

Laura said...

What a great post! I love the descriptions of your grandmas--and how great that you have food memories of all 3! I am bookmarking this for the next time my playgroup includes a gluten free kid! Thanks for participating!

Maria Verivaki said...

what a moving story - are the ladies in the photo the grandmom's themselves?

that business about addign enough flour until the batter is right is just what i hear all the time in greece - it took me ages to learn when teh batter did actually look right!!!

(amaranth is probably available as a seed where you are - you can use it just like you would spinach - i also add it to green pies like spanakopita)

Rachel said...

Sounds like we all had the same kind of grandmas in the kitchen; intuitive cooks who knew how to put together terrific dinners from memory.

Yes, Kiwi, those are my three delightful grandmas (yia yias in Greek?) in the photo, taken on my wedding day when they were the happy matriarchs.

Sophie said...

This sounds incredible, and I know it has to be because it's a grandma recipe :D. I've been wanting to try garbanzo flour, how would you describe the taste?

Mrs. L said...

I have many recipes of my Grams that call for "a bit of this and a tad of that" that I'm working with my mom to decipher. This was a lovely post to read.

Rachel said...


Garbanzo bean (or chick pea or besan) flour tastes a little nutty. I like it in cookies and brownies and cakes and especially in bhajis (I've got recipes on this blog for those crispy Indian veggie fritters, one of our family favorites).

If I was making a delicate tasting item, I would use rice flour instead, but I like to use chickpea flour a lot because it adds a little flour, which is often lacking in my gf baking.


Anonymous said...

This cake is FANTASTIC!!! I up the spice quotient quite a bit, just because that's the way we like things, and used a rice/potato/tapioca flour blend. I am making it now for the second time and will make it many times more. Thank you!!!