(Image via Chloe Coscarelli)
Before I proceed to share my experience with the most epic apple cake of all time (vegan or otherwise), there are a few things you should know about me:
- I do not cook or bake. Ever.
- I’m vegetarian but have lately been experimenting with vegan alternatives to animal byproducts. It’s been somewhat of a challenge, since I really love cheese and really hate soy. As for Daiya, I would rather eat nothing at all. Which brings me to point number 3…
- I’m notoriously finicky when it comes to food. I’m basically a grown-up toddler.
Over the holidays, I was gifted a copy of Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen: 150 Pizzas, Pastas, Pestos, Risottos, & Lots of Creamy Italian Classics by Chloe Coscarelli. Since Italian is one type of food I actually do like (I’d even venture so far to say it’s my favourite – hello creamy, cheesy goodness!), I was thrilled to bust out of the oven mitts for my first attempt at meal preparation (in several years) that did not involve Easy Mac or zapping something or other in the microwave. With visions of elaborate dinner parties dancing in my head, I locked down a date for “Rachel’s Magical Vegan Italian Dinner” with the rest of my family, since I didn’t feel confident enough to cook for my friends yet.
Like many of my passion projects, it turned out to be a major ordeal (which I will detail for you, dear readers, in a future post), but its one saving grace was this epic vegan Italian apple cake. For starters, it was a pinch to make, and I’ve never baked anything in my adult life save for pre-made cookie dough rolls. More importantly, however, it was so delicious that my carnivorous family completely demolished it from top to bottom. People even claimed seconds and thirds, which is a rarity in our house, as I’m the only one with a major sweet tooth.
Without further ado, here is the recipe for Chloe Coscarelli’s divine vegan Italian apple cake:
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour*
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup canola oil
- ¼ cup water
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
- 3 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
- Powdered sugar for serving
*For a gluten-free alternative, substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour plus ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum (page 257 from Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen)
**Note: I did not use powdered sugar since I forgot to buy some when I decided to go ingredient shopping in the middle of a blizzard (but more on that later).
**Also: As per my mama’s advice, I decided to peel the apples horizontally instead of vertically, which enabled me to get them cake-ready in about half the time.
**Lastly: Since this takes 45 minutes to bake, it’s good to prepare the cake first before tackling other dishes (if you’re preparing a multi-course dinner, that is). This little tidbit also comes from my mother, since I obviously have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to anything kitchen-related.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round pan and line with parchment paper. Grease again.
- In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk oil, water, vanilla, and vinegar. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a large spoon until just combined. Do not overmix. Batter will be very thick, but the apples will release moisture as they bake.
- Arrange some of the apples in a circular pattern to cover most of the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Then gently fold in the remaining apples into the batter. Spoon the bat- ter into the pan, being careful not to disrupt the apple pat- tern on the bottom. Use a spatula or your fingertips to pat it evenly into the pan.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the center is set and the cake is lightly browned on top. Rotate the cake halfway through baking time.
- Once cooled, run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake, and gently unmold so that the apple design is on top. Peel off the parchment paper. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.