As I was deciding on recipes for this book, I combed through old notebooks, folders, and loose scraps of restaurant ordering pads containing hundreds of splattered dessert recipes. I found a vague scribble of ingredients with amounts listed in “handfuls” that was hardly readable on the oil-stained page. The cooking method read, “bake until done.” This scribble was an attempt to re-create a stateside version of a much-adored apple cake that my friend Rosada baked in London. After a few tweaks, it evolved into this slice, which is wheat-free, super easy, and fast to make, with all the flavors I miss about drinking tea on cozy afternoons in Rosada’s Portobello flat.
NOTE: If you want to dress this slice up, you can brush it with the optional apricot glaze.
I like the look of the red skins left on the apples, but you can peel them if you like. If you do, keep in mind that they may take less time to cook.
MAKES ONE 9-INCH SQUARE SLICE EQUIPMENT: 9-INCH SQUARE CAKE PAN
1 tablespoon melted extra virgin coconut oil
4 small Gala, Pink Lady, or other red-skinned apples (1/4 pounds), cored and cut in Vi-inch slices
2A cup plus 1 tablespoon maple syrup, divided
4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1 Vz cups regular rolled oats
2Vi cups almond meal
1/z cup barley flour
1 Vz teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
Vz cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan Vz teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons unsweetened apricot jam, optional
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a 9 x 9-inch square cake pan and line with parchment paper, covering bottom and about an inch up sides; set aside.
Warm coconut oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add apples and saute for 5 minutes or until golden in parts. Stir in 1 tablespoon maple syrup and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Continue cooking for another 6 to 8 minutes, lowering heat if apples begin to brown. Cook until apples are soft but not falling apart. If they’re still firm, reduce heat to low, cover skillet, and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Add oats to a food processor and blend until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl and mix in almond meal, barley flour, and baking powder. In another bowl, whisk remaining 2A cup maple syrup, remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla, olive oil, and almond extract. Pour into oat-almond flour mixture and stir to combine. Lightly press batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven (leave oven on), and arrange apples in 4 rows over surface of slice, leaving a V2-inch border around edge. Lightly press apples into cake and return to oven for another 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow cake to cool completely in pan. Invert cake onto a flat plate or cutting board, peel off parchment, and reinvert onto a serving plate.
To make the optional glaze, place jam in a small pot over medium heat and stir until melted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and use a pastry brush to lightly brush glaze over surface of apples. Cut into 8 or 16 squares, and serve at room temperature. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.