Since graduation, I have had to actively work to continue learning. It is all too easy to slip into a routine and only cook your time-tested favorites over and over.
As intimidating as it is to try a new recipe, especially one from another country, a good outcome is all it takes to reassure you that your step outside the box was infinitely worth it.
For someone with a gluten intolerance, such as myself, cooking French food, the French pastries in particular, is an especially daunting task.
This version of a French apple cake can hold its own at any holiday table. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy!
In a cuisine where the majority of sauces have a roux, and croissants are considered a main food group, it is not the most conducive to those with food intolerances.
On my last trip to Paris, while my mom enjoyed her second (or third, I lost count) piece of apple cake outside of a French cafe, I was busy imagining what a gluten-free version would taste like.
She described each moist bite in depth, allowing me to visualize the complimenting tastes of the vanilla and apples, and the unique textures, myself.
This has turned into somewhat of a routine for us when we travel since I cannot eat any of the pastries that seem to line each street cart, grace every menu, and decorate each store window.
It is my mom's raves and reviews about meals and snacks that we encounter that ultimately push me out of my cooking comfort zone once I am back home, something she thoroughly enjoys (maybe a little too much).
To try something new and recreate her favorites to be gluten- free allows us to finally share a dessert and make a memory together.
This cake is one of those memories. I remember the smell and image, while she remembers the tastes and textures. Together we have worked this recipe out, so we can recreate that afternoon we shared in a Parisian cafe, now right here in the states.
With all of the sweets from the holiday season, this cake is a welcome change.
The apples provide a crisp tartness, while the vanilla and Snap lend the perfect hint of sweetness to this cake.
If you find yourself torn on what to take to your neighbors holiday party, I urge you to try this recipe. It transcends dessert boundaries, with a custard base, soft cake top and crisp apples reminiscent of a pie.
This "cake" can surely hold its own at any holiday table.
French Apple Cake
a Cook's Illustrated recipe)
Yields: 8 slices
1 1/2 pounds granny smith apples, peeled, cored, then thinly sliced.
2 tablespoons SNAP Liquor (can use dark rum, apple brandy, etc. in place, however all alcohol is optional)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used Bobs Red Mill)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg plus 2 large yolks
3/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with oil (make sure it is gluten-free).
Move on to slicing your apples. Once cut, place in a microwave-safe dish, cover and microwave until apples become soft, about 3 1/2 minutes. Toss apples with Snap or liquor of choice and set aside.
Now for the batter: in a medium bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients, holding back the additional 2 tablespoons of flour, and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine 1 whole egg, butter (make sure it is not too hot when added to egg or it will cook it) or oil, milk and vanilla together on a low speed.
Once mixed, slowly add your dry ingredients until it is well incorporated. When batter is prepared, remove one cup and set aside. With the remaining batter, whisk in your yolks.
Fold in the cooled apples and transfer into your prepared pan. Set aside. Whisk the 2 tablespoons of flour into your remaining 1 cup of batter, then pour over the apple mixture.
Sprinkle the top of the cake with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let the cake to sit for 5 minutes, then remove from the springform pan and allow to cool completely. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy!
Green was first diagnosed with gluten intolerances as a teenager. Soon after, she developed a blog to share her struggles and successes of adapting to a gluten-free life. Over the years, her passion for wellness has turned into a profession.
A 2012 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in New York, she is continually networking with other gluten-free experts and expanding her knowledge. Her goal is to make gluten-free an option for everyone, not just those in need.
Green may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column is published on the second Wednesday of each month.