Finding a good nectarine or peach is sort of like looking for a needle in a haystack. When I’m shopping, I always make sure to carefully survey my options, give the fruit a gentle squeeze and a quick sniff (although I have no idea what I’m doing), and then cross my fingers that I’ve chosen well. More often than not, though, I end up biting into a dried out, mealy piece of fruit and then complaining to whoever is around about the amount of money I just wasted and how it’s so hard to find a good nectarine/peach. Sometimes I think I’m twenty-nine going on eighty.
The other week I went through this routine, picking up organic nectarines at Trader Joe’s and peaches at Whole Foods. I have low expectations for these things at TJ’s. Apples? Totally acceptable to save some money and buy from them. Nectarines? You are likely asking to eat sawdust. But surprisingly, the peaches from Whole Foods sucked and the nectarines were perfect. My apologies to TJ’s: I may have misjudged you.
The timing for my nectarine success was ideal too, because I had just received a copy of Celine Steen’s and Tamasin Noyes’ beautiful new cookbook, Whole Grain Vegan Baking, and immediately gravitated towards a nectarine-topped cake. Truly, this is one very pretty book, and all of the recipes sound amazing. Admittedly, it’s far from gluten-free aside from a few vegan treats, but the recipes are simple enough that I think you could probably sub in your favorite gluten-free flour blends (and maybe a little xanthan gum or the equivalent where necessary) and have excellent results. That’s exactly what I did for this stunning (and super easy!) oatmeal cake.
Fair Winds Press has generously allowed me to share the original recipe, but if you’re interested in my substitutions, I swapped the whole wheat pastry flour for a mix of equal parts millet flour, sorghum flour, and potato starch and added in one scant half of a teaspoon of xanthan gum to hold it all together. It turned out fabulously.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) apple juice, more if needed
- 47 g (1⁄3 cup) cashews
- 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup
- 7 g (1 tablespoon) flax meal
- 80 g (1⁄3 cup) unsweetened applesauce
- 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) neutral-flavored oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 90 g (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) quick-cooking oats, divided
- 120 g (1 cup) whole wheat pastry flour
- 45 g (1⁄2 cup) oat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Pinch of grated nutmeg
- 2 nectarines, pitted and sliced
- 24 g (2 tablespoons) Sucanat
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Lightly coat an 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pan with cooking spray.
- Combine the apple juice, cashews, maple syrup, and flax meal in a blender. Process until completely smooth. Add the applesauce, oil, and vanilla. Process until blended.
- Whisk together 80 g (1 cup) of the oats, the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a medium-size bowl. Pour the cashew mixture into the oat mixture and stir to combine. The mixture will be thick but spreadable. If necessary, add an extra 1 tablespoon (15 ml) apple juice. Spread the batter in the pan and arrange the nectarine slices on top.
- Combine the remaining 10 g (2 tablespoons) oats and Sucanat in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the cake, gently pressing it into the cake with flat hands. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack before slicing.
Recipe copyright Fair Winds Press, 2013. Photos copyright Amanda Maguire.
Disclosure: I received Whole Grain Vegan Baking for free, but as always, all opinions are my own.