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Book Review: Forking Fantastic by Zora O'Neill and Tamara Reynolds -- Veganized Apple Spice Cake

Posted Oct 04 2009 10:01pm

From October 2009 Photos

I'm quite enjoying the quest to veganize as many Altered Plates dishes as possible. This delicious apple spice cake inspired by the one in Forking Fantastic by Zora O'Neill and Tamara Reynolds was a lesson in food chemistry for me. As a result, I'm a full convert to the use of apple cider vinegar with baking powder to create an awesome egg substitute. Additionally, the original recipe calls for dark brown and granulated sugars, and molasses, all of which I don't use, so I called on my creative muse to help me on my journey with this cake.


From October 2009 Photos

I wasn't too worried once I tasted the batter, but I did become concerned when as it cooled, the cake part started separating from the apples a bit.


From October 2009 Photos

But, I carved out a small chunk and was so happily surprised that it took a lot of strength not to eat more of it before I took it to Mom's for her annual family party yesterday. Even though I made my cake with whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flour, as well as a nice amount of flax meal just to be on the safe side in the veganing, no one complained about it being "too healthy" at all.


From October 2009 Photos

I received rave reviews on the cake, especially it's flavor and texture. I'd say it's about half apples and half cake. That makes for interesting serving, but I eventually was able to cut nice squares while my cousin Alan handed out the plates and forks. It's a very most cake with a wonderful spiced flavor and fluffy texture. I would definitely make this one again. Maybe for Thanksgiving.

About the book, while it's really not for vegetarians and vegans (or, very importantly, for folks who do not drink or cook with wine), there are plenty of worthwhile dishes to try and lively stories to read. If rough language also turns you off, you probably will have to exercise tolerance at turns, but generally it's written in a very informal way that is immediately approachable. I prefer more photos, especially of the finished dishes, but the book is targeted at those who want to throw fun dinner parties like the authors, so I supposed they are appropriate. All that aside, making a vegan version of the authors' apple spice cake was a fun thing to do for a dinner party of sorts at Mom's.

Here's the recipe for my version so you can try it for yourself.

Apple Spice Cake (inspired by the one of the same name on page 118 of Forking Fantastic by Zora O'Neill and Tamara Reynolds

Easily serves 20.

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour + a little extra for the baking dish
2 tablespoons flax meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 teaspoon Cake Spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup oil (I used a mix of olive and canola oils) + a little extra for the baking dish
1 1/2 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
5 Gala apples, cut into 1/2 in. chunks (keep the peels on the fruit)
1 cup walnuts chopped roughly

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except the walnuts until very well combined.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients except the apples until very well combined.
3. Oil and flour a 9 x 13 in. baking dish (I used a glass one)
4. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
5. Fold in the apples and walnuts and mix until just combined.
6. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and let it rest for 15 minute before baking.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
8. Bake the cake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F, then tent lightly with foil and bake at 325 for another 30 minutes (or until a tester emerges with moist crumbs attached, but you don't want it to be gooey).
9. Cool for an hour before serving. It's wonderful warm, but will be just as wonderful for the next two days. It won't last longer than that.

Just some procedural notes: once you mix the wet with the dry, the vinegar immediately starts reacting. You'll have to act quickly to get it into the pan and spread it evenly before it becomes challenging to do. Don't worry if you see air bubbles, it all works out fine.

I'm also sure that you could make a chocolate or carob version of this by substituting cocoa or carob for some of the flour. If you try it that way, please let me know how it goes!
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