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pumpkin sage cake (vegan)

Just last weekend, I was strolling around the farmers market not too far from here with my dear friends Nancy and Amber. We had such a nice time catching up, sharing our latest food triumphs and – as per usual – brainstorming a bit about recipe ideas and possibilities. It is so nice to be able to spend a warm, sunny afternoon with people who love food as much as I do. Afterward, we headed over to a local spot to grab a bite to eat. I came home satiated – body and mind. And in my arms I carried a plethora of market goodies. Nancy kindly brought me a little something from her garden: a gorgeous and elegantly wrapped bunch of herbs,  a share from the last from her summer crop.

Fast forward 6 days:  I am calf deep in snow running around my yard with my ridiculously insufficient-for-the-task-at-hand broom, attempting to remove the heavy wet snow from the sagging leafed-out maple trees. It was eerily quiet save the sound of C-R-A-C-K — one beautiful branch after the next falling to the ground. Our town has faired worse than Hurricane Irene. Which was pretty bad. But, that’s another story. Instead of curbside snowbanks deposited by passing plows, heaping towers of broken branches have been dragged toward the street awaiting bulk pick-up. It’s all part of nature but it’s still heartbreaking.

Alas, I had planned on baking over the weekend. I typically spend a few hours cooking on Sunday, getting ready for weekly dinners and such. But, we were without power. It got down to a brisk and unpleasant 55 degrees inside our house. In some kind of miracle, power was restored late last night. Many many other parts of New Jersey are still without power so we are feeling pretty grateful. I peeled off my layers before climbing into bed and woke up this morning to a functioning oven. So I baked. And then I enjoyed a slice of this cake with a cup of tea – - silently reflecting on how important it is not to take anything for granted.

Pumpkin sage cake

This recipe was inspired by one over at Fine Cooking and by Nancy’s homegrown sage. If you are sensitive to xanthan gum, this recipe does work without it. However, it does come out a bit crumbly. The brown sugar I used is unrefined. Yes, it does exist. And it’s incredible. It’s called Mascobado (not Mascovado).  By all means, use regular if you can’t find it.

1 cup/4oz/112g sorghum flour
7/8 cup/ 4oz/ 114g Superfine brown rice flour
2/3 cup/ 3oz/ 84g tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup/6oz/ 171g smashed bananas (about 2 small bananas)
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves, loosely packed
3/4 cup/ 6oz/ 171g grapeseed oil
1 cup/ 5oz/ 141g brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup/ 4oz/143g maple syrup
1 15oz/425g canned organic pumpkin
2 tsp vanilla

1.) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2.) Oil and lightly flour a bundt pan (I used a ceramic one – but beware – dark nonstick ones will make your GF baked goods cook/brown more quickly)
3.) In a medium mixing bowl, place the sorghum, rice, tapioca flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Whisk well and set aside.
4.) Heat the oil in a small saucepan (don’t let it smoke). Remove all the sage leaves from their stems and mince very well – so that they have the look/size of dried sage. Measure out 2 healthy tablespoons. Add them to the heated oil and let it infuse for about a minute. Take off the heat. Set aside to cool.
5.) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the bananas, brown sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin and vanilla. Add the cooled sage oil and whisk to combine.
6.) Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and spoon into prepared baking dish.
7.) Bake 45 minutes. Let cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before inverting/serving.

This post is linked to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. It’s also linked To Cybele Pascal’s Allergy Friendly Friday’s

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12 responses to “pumpkin sage cake (vegan)”

  1. Shirley @ gfe said:

    Wow, that looks and sounds like one awesome cake, Stephanie! I’m jealous that you got to hang out with Nancy and Amber (I know how much fun that can be, and to hang out with you, too, of course!), but I don’t envy you that power outage. So glad it’s back on and hope it will soon be restored for everyone else in your area. Thanks for sharing this cake recipe with us! Did you hear that I accidentally left my share of Nancy’s herbs at Jules’ house? Bummer. Hmmm, now that I think of it, I need to check to see what she did with those …


  2. Melissa - glutenfreeforgood said:

    Wow, indeed! Sage and pumpkin together in a cake?! Brilliant and creative idea. I’m trying to bake without xanthan gum, so I may give this a try that way. I know what you mean though, xanthan gum does help make baked goods less crumbly.

    Beautiful stuff here at GFbyN. The photos are amazing!

  3. Stephanie said:

    Hi shirley!

    Boy, are we glad it’s back on too! It’s amazing – it takes a moment like that to realize that we take so many things for granted…

    Yes, we must soon plan a time to hang out . And no – I didn’t hear you left your herbs at Jules’ house ! That truly is such a bummer. Especially after I am sure you had spent some time on your ride home thinking of all the things you could use them for. Not that Jules minded, right? I am sure she had a field day with double the herbs!


  4. Stephanie said:

    Ha, Melissa! Come to think of it I knew you would love it. It’s savory in a sweet:) A side note on the sage – I tried chopping the herbs and just dry roasting them in skillet (instead of in the oil) but you could barely taste the sage at all. Infusing the oil really gives it a nice kick.

    And thank to you for the kind words on the photos. That’s very sweet. I can give all the credit to my new camera (my old one got stolen in Virginia when I was visiting Shirley in June). The new technology really helps a hopeless case like me…

  5. Nancy @SensitivePantry said:

    Steph – wow this cake is magnificent. I love the addition of sage (and what a pretty picture — isn’t the sage just a beautiful color???). I’m so honored that our sage made it into this recipe. I will let the hubs know since he really is the one who tends to the garden. xoxo Nancy

  6. Stephanie said:

    Aw, thank you Nancy!

    I love the addition of sage too. It kind of surprised me. I mean, who would have thought that it could be used in a sweet application?

    Your sage was right up there center stage – where it belongs :) Thanks again for gifting me the herbs from your lovely garden. I loved them, truly.

  7. Allergy Friendly Friday 11/18/11 | Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine said:

    [...] Pumpkin Sage Cake (I had an “ah ha!” moment when I saw this) from Gluten-Free By Nature [...]

  8. The Healthy Apple said:

    This looks amazing; I love sage and pumpkin so I am surely going to try this yummy bread recipe for the holidays. Thanks so much for sharing this creative recipe…I love it!

  9. The Biggest Gathering of Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Recipes said:

    [...] Gluten-Free Pumpkin Sage Cake [...]

  10. The Big List of Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Recipes - Go Dairy Free said:

    [...] Gluten-Free Pumpkin Sage Cake [...]

  11. Jessica said:

    Looks delicious! I would love to make for my son’s birthday. Three questions: where did you get your ceramic bundt pan as I have been wanting one of these? Second, have you tried substituting sugar with alternative sweeteners like agave or more maple syrup or other in this recipe – am trying to avoid too much sugar with my son. Third, would dry sage work?
    Thanks fo sharing!

  12. Stephanie said:

    Hi Jessica,

    1.) I bought my blue ceramic bundt pan off eBay for $5! Can you believe that? It was a total score! I find using metal pans is a bit difficult with GF baking. Glass or ceramic tend to yield a more evenly cooked baked good. And the top doesn’t over-brown like with metal pans.

    2.) I have not had a ton of success using 100% liquid sweetener (like maple syrup) since I started baking vegan. I have tried many many times and I just haven’t nailed the “secret” ratio. I have realized that a combination of liquid and granular sugar works best. In this recipe, the unrefined Mascobado sugar gives the cake a real tenderness we love – not unlike the texture of a gluten-filled cake. We are super sensitive to sugar over here too – and it’s a tough thing – but this sugar has never once bothered our family, which is why I have continued to use it in baking for nearly 2 years.

    3.) I think dried sage could work. It certainly won’t give the flavor of the fresh sage. But, maybe that’s ok with you. Some people may prefer a more mellow taste, you know?

    I’d love to hear how things turn out – and a very happy birthday to your son :)

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