Plates of warm chocolate cookies, tender muffins and frosted birthday cake; these are just some of the kid-pleasing staples that mothers across the country make for their children – kitchen classics, if you will.
But instead of brownies, cookbook author, pastry chef and award-winning blogger Aran Goyoaga frequently makes a light, yet sweet olive oil cake, a dessert that she says was always on the kitchen counter during her own childhood in Spain’s Basque country and one that she makes now for her own two children.
“My two-year-old daughter and I often cook or bake together before my son leaves for school in the morning,” says Goyoaga, whose blog, “Cannelle et Vanille,” is a two-time James Beard Award finalist in the individual food blog category. “There is always something for them to eat after school and cooking, eating together is something that I treasure as a way for them to learn about their culture.”
Goyoaga – who grew up in a family of pastry chefs in her small hometown of Amorebieta in northern Spain and worked as a pastry chef at the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach before leaving work for motherhood – says that one of the greatest lessons about cooking that she learned from her mother was that one should always use fresh ingredients. Fresh ingredients – whether just-picked apples or raw milk – makes the world of difference when cooking, especially says Goyoaga, when it comes to cooking for those that suffer from severe allergies.
While her son Jon and daughter Miren, were still tiny, Goyoaga was diagnosed with a severe autoimmune disorder and advised to remove all gluten from her diet to reduce inflammation. It turned out that Jon, now 6 years old, was also unable to process gluten. With pastry skills in hand, Goyoaga turned to her beloved kitchen and began to bake, roast, cook and prepare dishes that reflected her love for her Spanish heritage and passion for fresh, seasonal produce. Comforting dishes – like the olive oil cake Goyoaga’s mother used to make – became the basis for new memories she now shares with her own children in their Seattle, Washington home.
“Even a simple recipe can be heartwarming and there’s nothing sweeter than time spent together sharing food,” says Goyoaga, who shares here her variation on her mother’s recipe for olive oil cake, rich with velvety apples sautéed in butter and completely gluten-free.
Apple, Yogurt and Olive Oil Upside-Down Cake
3 Pink Lady apples, or any other crisp apple you like
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick or 30 g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (130 g) natural cane sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
3/4 cup (105 g) superfine brown rice flour
1/3 cup (35 g) almond flour
1/4 cup (40 g) potato starch
1/4 cup (35 g) millet flour
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (100 g) packed muscovado or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) whole milk, plain yogurt
1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease an 8 by 3-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
2. Core the apples, quarter them, and cut each quarter into fourths. Heat the butter, 2 tablespoons of the natural cane sugar, and the vanilla pod (save the seeds for the batter) in a large sauté pan over medium heat until the butter has melted. Add the sliced apples and cook for 7 minutes or until they are tender but still hold their shape. The sugar should not caramelize. Let the apples cool for 15 minutes.
3. Arrange the apples tightly on the bottom of the cake pan in a circular pattern.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the super fine brown rice flour, almond flour, potato starch, millet fl our, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, remaining cup (100 g) natural cane sugar, muscovado sugar, yogurt, olive oil, and vanilla seeds. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and whisk until the batter comes together. Pour the batter into the cake pan.
6. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Carefully invert it onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
7. Store in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it for up to one month.