blueberry buckle cake (vegan!!!)

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You can’t imagine how wonderful it was to lick the batter out of the bowl again. For a moment, I was able to dial back the clock and stand in a kitchen surrounded by flour, butter and cream. Only this time I was creaming vegan butter and trying to understand the texture of its cream versus traditional butter. This time, I was sifting gluten-free flour and not working about over mixing the dough because there was no gluten to activate. It was strangely liberating making this buckle cake, which is really an oversized muffin in a fancy tin.

Yet, remember last week when I wrote about baking no longer being the singular object of my affection? That truth still stands even though I enjoyed a slice of this cake with Van Leeuwen dairy-free pistachio ice-cream (it’s surprisingly good, although don’t get the salted caramel, which is honestly not that good). While the cake baked, I stared longingly at the batch of tomato soup on the stove, flavored with double-smoked bacon.

This past week I had lunch with my friend, Jamie, who understands my L-Glutamine life, wholly. We spoke of our respective conditions, swapped gluten + dairy free baking ideas, and more importantly we mused over the fact that we’d swapped hats, as it were. An avid vegan cook, Jamie came to lunch carting a huge bag of almond flour, while all I could talk about was cauliflower, cruciferous greens, and the fact that I DON’T HAVE CELIAC (PRAISE, KITTENS). I have become less excited about baking and more enthralled with the seemingly endless ways one can prepare a vegetable.

But this cake. You have to know that blueberries were on my list of sensitivities, but I’m picking my battles. So I endured a good bit of temporary itch eating this buckle cake, but believe me when I say it’s worth it. While the cake may not be as photogenic as its gluten counterpart, the richness of the batter, the moist consistency of the end result, will have you closing the door on gluten + dairy.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Bon Appetit
For the topping
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup gluten-free flour (use Bob’s Red Mill or Cup4Cup)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted Earth Balance butter (vegan), cut into 1/2″ pieces

For the buckle cake
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted Earth Balance butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (use Bob’s Red Mill or Cup4Cup)
2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup cane sugar
1 tbsp chia seeds/3 tbsp warm water (for vegans); 1 large egg (for non-vegans)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut cream (this is different than coconut milk)
1 pint fresh (or frozen, thawed) blueberries

A 9″-diameter springform pan

DIRECTIONS
For the buckle cake: Preheat oven to 350°. If you’re going the vegan route, add the chia seeds and warm water to a small bowl and let rest for 10 minutes, stirring intermittently. Butter and flour pan. Whisk baking powder, salt, and 1 1/2 cups flour in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on high speed (or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment), beat sugar, 1/4 cup butter + 1 tbsp coconut oil until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in egg (if using; chia mixture, if using) and vanilla just to combine, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients, then coconut cream; mix just to combine. Gently fold in blueberries. Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth top, and place pan on a rimmed baking sheet.

For the topping: Whisk coconut palm sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter and rub in with your fingers until mixture comes together in large clumps; set aside.

Evenly sprinkle topping over the cake.

Bake buckle until top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 80–90 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool completely (30 minutes) before unmolding and serving.

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ligurian chard with pine nuts, quinoa + feta

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To say that I’ve an addictive personality would be an understatement. I tend to cleave to things, people, to an excess, to the point where the very thing I once love begins to sicken me. From the blueberry muffin to the glorious almond croissant (I won’t quit you!) to toxic girlfriends, my addiction has run the gamut so I’ve got to be careful.

One of the reasons why I subscribed to Blue Apron Meals {brief parenthetical: I’m in no way, shape or form being compensated or incentivized to prattle on endlessly about these guys — I just seriously love the service and have gotten scores of my work colleagues hooked} is the fact that it affords me meal diversity because I tend to get into a food rut when under considerable work stress. Then all of a sudden the delivery guys have my phone number programmed into their cell phones, and my garbage bin is piled high with leftover tubs of gnocchi pesto. NOT GOOD, PEOPLE. No wins in this scenario and a month of wearing leggings is the epitome of the downward spiral.

So today after French class I raced home and cooked up some healthy and FLAVORFUL chard with pine nuts, feta and quinoa. Not only do I feel virtuous about the food I’m eating (and the money I’m saving), I’m not hitting the Italian restaurant on speed dial.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Blue Apron Meals
1 bunch swiss chard
1 cup quinoa
1/4 cup golden raisins
4oz feta cheese
1 tbsp pine nuts
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic
8-10 Kalamata olives
1 cup vegetable broth
1 small onion
1 lemon

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DIRECTIONS
First, put a medium pot of water to a boil. Wash the chard, shake off the excess water. Next thinly slice the greens, onion and garlic. Finally, pit and chop the olives and set everything aside.

Add the quinoa to the boiling water, add a little salt, and cook for 8-10 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over high heat for a few seconds. Keep an eye on the nuts as they can burn and then you are left crying because pine nuts are EXPENSIVE and you’ve just ruined them. Trust me, I’ve been there. Remove the pine nuts from the heat and set aside.

Once the quinoa is done, drain it well and mix with the golden raisins, half of the pine nuts, half of the cheese, and the juice of half of a lemon. Season with salt (go easy on this as the feta and olives are quite salty) and pepper to taste.

Drizzle a little olive oil (1 tbsp) in a medium pan and turn the heat to high. Sauté the onion, red pepper flakes, and garlic for a few minutes, or until the onions start to soften. The last few Blue Apron recipes I tried I had to dial down the temperature and time as my garlic was getting chard. I had it on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, adding a little salt so the onions could sweat, and I was golden. Then, add the chard and sauté for a few more minutes until the leaves start to wilt.

Next, add the broth to the pan and simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until the broth reduces a bit, 5-6 minutes. Season with salt/pepper to taste.

Divide the quinoa between two plates (or pack a separate tupperware for work, as I do), then serve the chard over the top. Sprinkle the chopped olives over the quinoa and greens. Garnish with remaining cheese and pine nuts, along with a lemon wedge. Enjoy!

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