Thanksgiving-y Dessert Dilemma + A Recipe for GF Apple Cake

ApplesOn Thanksgiving Day, how much variety is necessary when it comes to dessert? Do I need a chocolate dessert in addition to the pumpkin pie and apple pie? Is it apple overkill to have apple cake if the dessert menu also features apple pie and the main meal has apples in the stuffing and apple cider in the gravy? Am I shortchanging the chocoholics in favor of the fruit and veg set?

Somehow chocolate doesn’t seem Thanksgiving-y, but then, again, I don’t like chocolate, can’t eat it without getting a horrible headache and stomach pains. Chocolate seems much more Christmas-y, more appropriate for the first holiday of winter than the last holiday of fall. For Christmas, I’ll make chocolate chip cookies, orange glazed chocolate brownies, chocolate cupcakes with mint icing and maybe even chocolate fondue. I’ll go hog wild with chocolate for Christmas, but not for Thanksgiving.

It seems like apple cake would be nice on Thursday because apples are Thanksgiving-y and some people don’t like pie but they like cake. I like cake. I like cake a lot more than pie. I like the pie filling but I don’t like pie crust, even really good GF pie crust.

So, really, I want validation for making apple cake for me while I’m making pumpkin pie and apple pie and not making chocolate anything for everyone else. That’s totally un-Thanksgiving-y, I realize. It’s selfish to want my cake and to eat it, too.


Thanksgiving is all about doing for those for whom I am grateful, saying thanks by giving with thanks. I love to cook and bake. I love expressing my joy by making food for others. That’s why I’ll be making Thanksgiving dinner for my family and friends. It’ll be gluten free for everyone, even though no one else has to be gluten free. It has to be.  If I’m touching it, making it, it can’t have any gluten in it. Even if I don’t eat it, I can’t take the chance of spilling wheat bread crumbs on myself while making the regular stuffing and then accidentally brushing the crumbs into my plate of GF food.  I’m a slob, really, or maybe just accident prone in the kitchen, and that gluten is devious. It finds a way to climb up my apron front and sneak into my mouth when I’m not looking. I don’t know how it does it, but it does, and a day or two later, I’m curled up in pain. I wash my hands a lot when I cook and I never touch my mouth and then touch the ingredients, but accidents happen, at least when I’m in the kitchen. High heat boils off the accidental germs but heat doesn’t boil away stealth gluten. So it’s GF for me and thee on Thanksgiving Day.

While I’m still deciding whether or not to make the apple cake, you might want to give it a try, you know, for your loved ones. Not for you. You’re Thanksgiving-y and you make delicious desserts for others.  This is a good one to make for others. I brought it to book club and people scarfed even the crumbs. It’s so yummy that Nicholas, the eclectus parrot who lives across the street from me, clamors for another piece when I bring him some.

If you’re accident prone like me, you’ll appreciate the shortcut of starting with a GF cake mix because measuring all the ounces and scant cups of several different flours and binders and starches is a recipe for disaster. I used Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Vanilla Cake mix, which I picked up at Publix. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Thanksgiving-y Apple Cake

  1. 1 box Betty Crocker Gluten Free Vanilla Cake Mix
  2. 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  3. 1 1/2 cups fresh apple peeled and cut into small chunks (I use Honeycrisp apples)
  4. 2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
  5. 4 tablespoons margarine (I use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light)
  6. 1/2 cup water
  7. 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I used McCormick’s)
  8. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  9. 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  10. Cooking spray to coat baking pan

Preheat oven to 325 degrees if you are using a nonstick cake pan or 350 degrees for a shiny pan, which is what the cake mix box suggests.

Combine applesauce, eggs, margarine, water and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed with a manual or electric mixer until foamy (maybe two minutes). Add in spices. Pour in cake mix and either use mixer on low speed or hand mix until well incorporated. Stir in apples.

Pour mixture into one of the following pans lightly coated with cooking spray: 9″ x 13″ pan for a thin cake or a 9″ x 9″ round or square pan or 5″ x 9″ brownie pan for a thicker cake. Using my convection oven I bake the cake for 18 minutes for the larger pan and 25 minutes for the smaller pans, or until top is set and springs back when touched. You also can check the cooking times on the box to adjust to your oven.

Cake can be topped with sprinkled powdered sugar or whipped cream or enjoyed as is. It’s great warm from the oven or at room temperature the next day. It can be frozen.