27 January 2011

Hanna's Yummy Apple Spice Cake

From January 2011

I've long enjoyed Hannah Kaminsky's Bittersweet blog for its recipes as well as the gorgeous photographs. But prior to the blog, I knew her from My Sweet Vegan, her book of delectable desserts. This recipe, Apple Spice Cake, comes from page 80 of that cookbook.

My substantive changes to the recipe were considerably smaller than most of the recipes I alter: 1. used currants for raisins (it's just what I do -- I prefer the tang), and 2. made one layer and used the rest of the batter to make muffins. The cake was very moist, tasty, and not overly sweet at all. The main reason for that is that Hannah's recipe called for apple juice concentrate as the sweetener. It impressed me as more of an apple oat cake than a spice cake, but either way, both the cake and muffins were greatly appreciated by my friends who had them for breakfast. Just perfect for chilly and snowy winter days.

From January 2011

I also omitted the topping. The cake is awesome on its own.

Apple Spice Cake, page 80, My Sweet Vegan, by Hannah Kaminsky 2007. (I abbreviated the directions to keep this short, and I formatted them into my style. Otherwise, they're hers, so make sure you tell her when you try it out.)

Yield: 2 8-in. round cakes or 1 8-in. round cake and 12 muffins


2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups rolled oats
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup margarine (I used Smart Balance buttery sticks.)
1 1/3 cups apple juice concentrate, thawed and undiluted
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 apples peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8-in. round cake pan and a muffin pan (or another cake pan). (I actually save this for after the batter is mixed -- saves energy.)
2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together.
3. In another bowl, cream the margarine by itself to soften before adding the juice, apple sauce, and vanilla. Mix well.
4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until everything is moistened. Add the remaining ingredients into the batter by hand, folding gently.
5. Spread the batter into the pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
6. Let cool in pans for at least an hour, then take out of the pans to cool completely on a wire rack.
7. Top as you see fit, or leave plain. It will taste wonderful either way.

10 January 2011

Book Review: Appetite for Reduction

From January 2011

As always, I am a fan of all books written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and Appetite for Reduction is no exception. In fact, it's my new favorite. Like many of us who blog about food, Isa admits to having put on a few pounds, especially during the writing and testing of her cookie and cupcake books (written with Terry Hope Romero). Consequently, she wrote a low-fat vegan cookbook.

For my review, I selected two recipes that were (as advertised) very quick and easy to make. First, I made the Scallion Potato Pancakes. I made two more pancakes (had slightly more potatoes on hand) than the yield listed in the book, but didn't change anything otherwise. I enjoyed them greatly with an agave-mustard dipping sauce that fit the bill exactly. When I tasted the pancakes without the sauce, they needed a little salt. But otherwise, I was very happy with the result.

The second recipe, Garlicky Mushrooms & Kale, was a huge success. I've long sauteed kale with olive oil and garlic, but hadn't yet added mushrooms. I swapped portobello mushrooms for the creminis, but otherwise stayed loyal to the recipe. It was very garlicky and tasty. I'd probably opt for adding some hot pepper seeds for more zip next time, or some fresh ginger.

Both delicious recipes were very low in fat, but very high in flavor. One of the great additions to Appetite for Reduction is the use of the nutritional information accompanying the recipes. I especially like the vitamin and mineral percentages. Although they don't include many, they do count Vitamins A and C as well as calcium and iron. You don't often see those in cookbooks.

I would like more photos, but I can understand the costs of publishing prohibit the use of many photos if you want to keep the price low (which it is at $11.42 on Amazon). Last, but not least, one of my biggest pet peeves is when recipes run onto the next page and I must flip the page for more directions. Both recipes ran over into the next pages, so I'll just say that I hope the designers can work on that issue for the next book.

I've requested permission to reprint the recipes, so if I get it, I'll update this posting with them.