When I was little, my grandparents had an apple tree in their backyard – just one. But just one medium sized apple tree provided more apples than they could ever imagine eating! My grandmother wasn’t much of a cook so those apples would’ve gone to waste if it wasn’t for the neighbor lady.
She would come over with a big basket once or twice a fall and gather all the ripe apples. A day or two later, some sort of baked apple something or other would show up on my grandparents’ back porch. Pies, cakes, crumbles…you name it.
My favorite was always the apple cake. A moist, cakey, appley delight. This recipe for a Paleo apple cake brings me right back to fall at grandma’s house. I don’t know how the neighbor lady made her apple cake, but I’m guessing it wasn’t Paleo, since that wasn’t really a thing in 1982. But you could’ve fooled me with this recipe – there’s nothing lost in translation.
Ground walnuts and arrowroot flour substitute for what was most likely a wheat-flour based dough in the neighbor’s cake. Arrowroot is a staple of the native Caribbean diet, going way, way back in history to before Europeans arrived. Now, it’s often used as a thickener because it can make liquids into a sort of pudding consistency. But one great characteristic of arrowroot for many people today is that it is gluten free, unlike wheat flour.
I remember as a kid my grandfather would put a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream on whatever tasty baked apple item the neighbor left. To be honest, my grandfather probably would’ve put a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on anything my grandma let him! But I skip the ice cream these days because this cake is sweet enough on it’s own.
That being said, a friend of mine who eats Paleo most (but not all) of the time says she loves this apple cake with a little fresh whole cream drizzled on top. Not a bad idea. But like I said – I think it’s good just on its own.
The fresh apple flavor really comes through in the cake because there aren’t a lot of other things to get in its way. The honey helps bring that lovely apple essence to the foreground.
Now it’s time for my secret: I love making this apple cake on a Sunday in the fall – hopefully after getting to go apple picking in the orchard – it makes my house smell warm and cozy while it cooks – and then Sunday evening I have a big slice with a cup of tea. It’s the perfect end to the weekend. And then, for the next few days, I often have it for breakfast. Yes, it’s called “cake,” but it has apples, so that counts as breakfast, right? At least then, I have a yummy, Paleo way to start the day when the nights are getting longer and the air is getting a chill in it.
I never knew the name of the neighbor lady who baked apple treats with my grandparents’ apples, but I think she may be responsible for my love for all things apple. And whenever I make this cake, I think of her.
(Make this next: Magic Vanilla Custard Cake)
- 1 cup ground walnuts
- 1 tbsp arrowroot flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 4 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- 4 tablespoons liquid coconut oil
- 1 tbsp almond slices (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8 inch springform pan and line with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a small bowl combine the ground walnuts, arrowroot flour, salt and baking powder.
- Set aside.
- In a large bowl beat eggs with honey.
- Add the coconut oil, vanilla extract and lemon zest and mix to combine.
- Gradually add walnut mixture, mixing gently after each addition.
- Using spatula, gently fold in the apples.
- Transfer batter into prepared pan and using spatula, spread batter evenly, gently pressing on apples to create smooth surface.
- Sprinkle with almond slices if using.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 50-60 minutes or until golden and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely before serving.
What should I do if I don’t have a spring form pan?
Any 8 inch cake pan will do.
Could you use another nut other than walnut? If so, could you recommend one that you think would work best.
I think hazelnuts would work great in this recipe 🙂
I’ve made this a few times and its lovely. It also works well made with almond meal instead of walnuts.