Apple season is here! I have been wanting to make something “apple-y” for a couple of weeks now since varieties have been arriving at the farmers market. There is so much to make with apples for breakfast, sweet, and savory AND these apple pie spiced cupcakes and teacakes (!) that I started thinking about piling a wheelbarrow full of apples into my trunk and all its’ apple baking glory (channeling Laura Ingels from Little House on the Prarie but without the car, of course, give me a minute).
So before I went into the gym I searched Google for U-Pick Apple Orchards near me. I got this hankering for apple picking and how fun it would be.
The idea of crisp autumn air, hay rides, hot apple cider. Well, as crisp autumn air as can be when living in southern California, with leaves that remain green pretty much – BUT I’m not complaining – it excited me. And the smell of apple spice throughout the house, you know that smell, it’s magic.
So, my search came up: Oak Glen, CA … where all the apple picking magic happens – it didn’t really say that more like a metaphor dancing in my head -is 127 miles away.
One hundred twenty-seven miles away. ONE WAY.
254 miles round trip? My short-lived dream to give my boys (and me!) a farm-like apple-picking experience came and went but the apples at the market have never looked better. Seriously, they were crisp and sweet so I bought a bunch and plowed on to these little dreamy apple spice things.
I even went as far as making homemade applesauce that I added in these delicious apple treats for us. Will share my super easy recipe soon.
I went ahead with an adapted version of the apple spice cake from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook Cookbook. She makes it a three-layer, six-inch cake with a yogurt frosting that looks heavenly, but not very allergen-free, you know. I didn’t feel like buying three 6-inch pans (and to find them aluminum free on top of it because I’m a stickler for not using aluminum when possible). With the Momofuku birthday cake, I cut out a 6-inch round and used leftover cake for the crumb topping so there wasn’t any waste.
Twenty-four cupcakes are too many even for my household of six when not for a party, so I thought little teacakes, simple and packable as school snack and as coffee dunkers. The best coffee dunkers my friends, if you are looking for a good coffee dunker. I’m glad I went with half as teacakes because the kids were thrilled to find them in their lunch containers. Less messy too!
And the cupcakes? I saved six for tonight and took six with me this morning over to a parent volunteer meeting at the high school. I hope the sugar overload will wind down by Monday. #weekendproblems
Yes, I know, not the healthiest way to start the day but it’s Friday. Don’t tell my kids I said that. And this made my Friday morning rock.
Keep in mind, apples are one of the most sprayed produce so if you can buy organic. Please. I know we all don’t have farmer’s markets with baskets of organic apples nearby (if only right?) but there are many stores now that carry organic … Trader Joe’s, supermarkets, etc. are now carrying more and more varieties.
While frosting the cupcakes I thought this smells so much like apple pie … some apple pie filling on top. We need apple pie filling on top. Little diced pieces of apple … I started to visualize big slices of apple pie filling on top and laughed out loud. Imagine biting into that. The caramelized apples have just enough bite to them for texture and apple pie flavor without being chewy.
And I must tell you there is absolutely no chickpea flavor in here despite the amount used and now one of my favorite egg substitutes. Currently testing it in brownies, fingers crossed. Between the chickpea liquid and applesauce (and all the “butter” no doubt) the cake yielded moist, light results.
Martha? Where are you? You have to try this, it’s gluten, dairy, and egg free and freaking delicious!
Here are some step-by-step preparation photos… happy Friday everyone! xx Jessica
Cream “butter” and sugar for a good 3-4 minutes until this consistency …
In goes coconut nectar, it tastes like a cross between maple syrup and vanilla. So rich and so good. You can also use agave nectar or maple syrup.
Then the applesauce. I made some homemade applesauce that I used here. If using store-bought, the chunky kind is best.
Now for the canned chickpea liquid (also known as aquafaba) … Who knew!
You see here how it looks curdled? That’s totally fine; those chunks are bits of apples in the applesauce for texture.
Having the smell of apple spice under my nose had me licking the batter. Better yet, the house smelled amazing. I’m telling you, it’s magic.
Now a big heaping 1/4 cup of batter into every cupcake liner, mini bundt or decorative cake pan, or both.
Off to the oven.
Baked and gently separated from the pan (with a dull knife).
I wanted to show you how a couple of cupcakes sunk in a little. No worries if that happens, these are egg free after all – frosting will hide that. Also, the baked batter splotches on the cupcake liners (these are called tulip liners I found on Amazon and fit a cupcake sized pan) come off easily with a light push of a finger.
The little teacakes did not sink and came out beautifully. In case you were wondering, I use ceramic non-stick PFOA, lead, and cadmium free baking pans that I bought on Amazon. Love Amazon!
Kinda look like cannelles, don’t they?
I made a dozen as simple teacake (sprinkled later with powdered sugar) to send as school snack (wish I had this in my lunchbox), less messy than a cupcake. I did keep a few cupcakes for dessert tonight, but the rest are coming with me to a parent volunteer meeting at Ely’s school.
For the cinnamon vanilla spiced frosting: Cream the “butter” for 4-5 minutes until …
it looks like this. Really break down the “buttery” spread to have the creamiest, silkiest frosting ever!
Then add powdered sugar and it will get all clumpy looking making you wanna say “WHAA”. BUT …
with just a little coconut milk, it turns into the best non-dairy buttercream frosting. Promise.
Do you see the specks of vanilla? Wait until you taste this.
I almost licked the paddle. Almost.
Transfer into a piping bag with an open star tip and pipe cakes.
Here’s a (super) close up.
While the frosted cupcakes are chilling in the fridge, let’s make some caramelized apple to top them off. Peel and dice some apple.
Gather our ingredients …
Melt non-dairy “butter” and spiced sugar.
Then maple, apples, and calvados. Cook down.
Until it looks like this …
Let it cool completely before garnishing cupcakes. Note: This is quite sweet, like straight up pie filling so add a teaspoon of lemon juice if you want to tone down the sweetness but I can’t imagine you would. Who doesn’t love pie filling?
A small spoon on each and the most delicious apple spice cupcakes are done!
- For the cake:
- Flour Blend (total 3¼ cup blend, I use Bob's red Mill GF flours):
- (173 g) 1¼ cup white rice flour
- (138 g) 1 cup brown rice flour
- ( 29 g) ½ cup tapioca starch
- ( 57g) ½ cup coconut flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
- ½ teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- (108 grams) 8 tablespoons canned chickpea liquid (also known as aquafaba), room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon powdered agar agar (sold online or health food stores)
- 1½ cup cane sugar
- 4 oz Earth Balance soy free buttery spread, softened
- ¼ c coconut nectar or agave
- 1½ cups applesauce
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- For the frosting:
- Note: This will make enough for 12 cupcakes only. Recipe doubles or triples well.
- ¾ cup earth balance soy free buttery spread (measured in a dry measuring cup)
- 3½ cups powdered sugar, sifted (I use wholesome brand made with tapioca starch and also animal free, suitable for vegans)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or pure vanilla extract (Nielsen-Massey, Frontier, or Simply Organic are gluten free)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2-3 tablespoons coconut milk
- For the caramelized apple topping:
- 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced (I used granny smith and pink lady for some tartness)
- 1 tablespoon earth balance non-dairy buttery soy free spread
- 3 teaspoons evaporated cane sugar
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup, grade B or coconut nectar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch of kosher salt
- splash of calvados (apple liqueur)
- Note: This will make enough for 12 cupcakes, with a teaspoon-full on each cupcake.
- For the cake part:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (166 C)
- Measure flours and combine with all the spices, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine canned chickpea liquid and agar agar. Set aside. *It will not thicken up, but more as a xanthan gum substitute to help bind the flours.* In a stand mixer set on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes until well blended. Add coconut nectar, then applesauce until just combined. Add canned chickpea liquid. Reduce to medium-low and add the flour blend, continue to mix until just combined. Do not over mix otherwise it will incorporate too much air and create sunken cupcakes. It will look light and airy, which is what we want for a light, moist cake.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
- For the cupcakes: Let it cool for 15 minutes before transferring onto a cooling rack. Serve immediately. Will stay refrigerated for up to 4 days uncovered. Do not leave out at room temperature over 3 hours in hot climate weather as it will soften up too much to hold shape.
- For the teacakes: Let it cool 20 minutes, then cut around the mini bundt style cake edges (to dislodge from the pan) with a dull knife. Invert onto a cooling rack. Sift powdered sugar on top once completely cooled. Store at room temperature for 2 days or lightly cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
- For the frosting:
- Cream the “butter” for 2 minutes on medium speed then increase to high speed for another 3-4 minutes until it looks as pictured below, then again reduce down to medium speed and add vanilla bean paste, powdered sugar, cinnamon and coconut milk. It will appear less thick than standard buttercream, which is normal. Refrigerate for at least an hour before transferring into a pastry bag set with an open star tip (I used a large one) then pipe and refrigerate while making the caramelized apple topping.
- For the caramelized apple topping:
- In a small (4 cup) saucepan set on medium heat, melt earth balance with cane sugar. When melted, add diced apples and toss to combine well. Add maple syrup, cinnamon, kosher salt and a splash of calvados. Stir once then let cook for 20 minutes, or until it has reduced a little more than half and the apples are very soft. There should be a few tablespoons of liquid remaining. *If not add more maple syrup and cook for another 3 minutes or so.
- Some Notes:
- I measured out the flours so that the results will be consistent every time. Baking with egg free substitutes can sometimes create crumbly cakes that fall apart if the flour weight is not correct (or the canned chickpea liquid) or the ratio of protein to starches is off. If you do not have a scale yet I encourage you to get one if you plan on baking more often. They are relatively inexpensive and sold online or home accessories shops like Bed Bath Beyond.
- My homemade applesauce is very chunky (will post the recipe soon). When using store-bought, look for a chunky style applesauce and drain any remaining liquid.
- You can leave the calvados out if you like, but it really brings out that “apple pie” flavor and the alcohol burns off so it’s safe for children to eat.
- These also freeze well in a freezer safe container (cupcake with frosting on top) for up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator. Caramelized apples also freeze well in a separate container, then leave out at room temperature to thaw completely before garnishing cupcakes.
- Teacakes also freeze well without powdered sugar, if needed. We ate half a dozen in 10 minutes so I didn’t actually freeze these but considering the recipe I am confident it will freeze well, as always in a freezer safe container and a good 2-ply of shrink wrap to ensure none of that frost condensation comes near them.
- I will be trying this recipe as a large bundt cake this season with a cinnamon spice confectioner glaze and will update the recipe if all goes well, or not.
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