I have always believed that if you truly need something—not just want something but truly need it—the universe provides. It’s my reason for believing there is always something to be thankful for, even if it is not Thanksgiving.
A couple of years ago, I ended up with 10 cups of green cherry tomatoes from my garden at the very end of fall. They were not going to ripen, and I was stuck on what to do with them. I cannot abide waste (You probably know that, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while.). I could have composted them and hoped for next-year volunteers, but it seemed such a shame not to use them.
My neighbor Carol came to my rescue with a wonderful old notebook that had been handed down through her family for decades, and this treasure was brimming with old-time recipes, some using green tomatoes. From those recipes, I came up with Green “Tomato” Gal Chutney that turned out to be a hit during the holidays. While I had no end-of-season tomatoes in my own garden this year, I did wind up with a big bag of green tomatoes that were gifted to me from Keith Biver of Biver Farms. What to do?
I could have repeated the chutney, of course, but by now I had something different in mind. Actually, the inspiration came, once again, from Carol. Last year she had made a delicious dessert that I had been dying to try: a green tomato cake. Hers was so good, and since we were sort of bucking Thanksgiving tradition this year with beef stew instead of turkey, green tomato cake sounded like the perfect local and green alternative to pumpkin pie. It’s just that my daughter is gluten free and the original recipe is not. What to do?
The Universe answered this question when I picked up the October issue of Delicious Living Magazine and found a stunning collection of gluten-free bakery treats, created by my fellow bloggers at New Hope Blogging Network (NHBN). Such inspiring and innovative recipes! They certainly caught my attention and got my own creative juices flowing. So I took Carol’s recipe and worked out this gluten-free version of her green tomato cake, with much guidance from the recipes in Delicious Living. I am eternally grateful to Carol for sharing the original green tomato cake recipe and to my fellow bloggers for inspiring my newest sweet creation. If you have some green tomatoes in your basement or frig, give this recipe a try or use it to inspire your own green tomato creation.
- Two cups chopped green tomatoes, cored but not peeled or seeded
- One-half teaspoon fine sea salt
- One cup gluten-free oat flour (Careful here; many oat products inadvertently contain gluten. Look for “certified gluten-free” oat flour.)
- One cup quinoa flour
- One teaspoon cinnamon
- One-half teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- One-half teaspoon allspice
- One teaspoon baking soda
- One and one-half teaspoons baking powder
- One-half cup raw pecans, finely chopped
- One-half cup raw coconut, finely chopped
- Two sticks of unsalted butter, softened
- One cup light brown sugar
- One cup raw sugar
- Two large eggs
- One teaspoon pure vanilla
- To begin, chop the tomatoes and toss with the salt. Set aside and let “marinate” for about 20 minutes, while you prepare the rest of the cake batter.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then, prepare the baking dishes: butter two glass nine-inch layer cake dishes, bottom and sides. Use glass if you can here because the cakes will bake better. Line the bottoms of the cake dishes with cut-to-size parchment paper, grease this lightly and flour the entire cake dishes, using oat flour.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, spices, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
- Chop the pecans and coconut. I suggest putting them in a food processor together and pulsing until finely chopped. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the softened butter on high for a few seconds to get it fluffy. Then, cream in the sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
- Add in the flour mixture by spoonfuls with the mixer on low. Once everything is well combined, with the mixer still on low, add in the chopped tomatoes and any juice that has formed. Finally, stir in the nuts and coconut.
- Spoon the batter, which will be rather thick and lumpy, evenly into the two prepared baking dishes. Tap the bottoms on the counter top to remove air pockets.
- Bake the cake layers for 45-50 minutes, rotating the dishes halfway through for even baking. The toothpick test works pretty well here. Inserted in the center of each layer, the toothpick should come out clean.
- Cool in pans on baking racks for 10 minutes. Carefully turn out the layers, removing the parchment paper, and continue cooling on the baking racks until completely cooled. The layers are fairly fragile compared to a traditional cake.
It is probably possible to ice the layers, but it will be a challenge since the texture of the cake, while quite nice, is crumbly. Instead, I gave my layers a dusting of powdered sugar. You could also top with ice cream or whipped cream, if dairy is not an issue. Whipped coconut cream would be another option. While most cake layers freeze well, I doubt this cake will. It is crumbly because of the lack of gluten and would only become more crumbly once frozen and thawed, I fear.
So, getting hungry? In an effort to perfect the gluten-free layers, I created several test cakes for my private band of testers. No one complained. The one I’ve shared here was the very best of them all.
Looking for more gluten-free goodies for your holiday table? Check out what the NHBN bloggers have been up to, including these two personal favorites of mine:
Gluten-Free Lemon Crinkle Cookies by Bri Grajkowski
When my daughter realized she’d be gluten-free for life, she really bucked up and changed her eating habits. But there are certain favorite recipes that I had made for her since she was little that she still dearly misses, especially the lemon square cookies I used to bake for her every Christmas. They had a shortbread crust and a lemon curd filling. And she’s had to learn to do without them… until now. Enter Bri Grajkowski, blogger at Brigeeski.com. Her Gluten-Free Lemon Crinkle Cookies gave my daughter back her favorite childhood treat. So grateful, Bri!
Tuscan-Style Biscotti by Ambra Torelli
And then there is the Tuscan-Style Biscotti by blogger Ambra Torelli at Little Bites of Beauty. I think Biscotti is a wonderful cookie, elegant and sophisticated. And Ambra’s recipe is so simple, yet delicious. Perfect for the holiday festivities.
Have a great dessert you’re serving this Thanksgiving? Share! We would be forever grateful.