Decadent Apple Tart & Rustic Apple Cake (gluten free, grain free, dairy free)

APPLE PIE & APPLE CAKE / GLUTEN FREE, GRAIN FREE, PALEO, AIP / nicolemcaruso.com

After we went apple picking last week at Great Country Farms, I had about 20 fresh local apples, and couldn't wait to create a few desserts for my family. Both of these recipes are Paleo-friendly (no gluten, no grains, no dairy) and taste just like the "real" thing. Your holiday guests will never know the difference, except that they won't pass out on your couch (or at the table) after polishing off their plates. 

I started by slicing and seasoning 10 Fuji apples, and I divided them between the 2 recipes to make it easier for myself. Once I start cutting and peeling, I want to go through the whole batch and get it over with. Both recipes cook on a 350 degree F oven, so preheat that before you get started. 

SLICED APPLES / APPLE TART / APPLE CAKE / PALEO, GLUTEN FREE, AIP, GRAIN FREE / NICOLEMCARUSO.COM
SEASONING THE APPLES / APPLE CAKE / APPLE TART / GLUTEN FREE, GRAIN FREE, PALEO, AIP / RECIPE / NICOLEMCARUSO.COM

APPLE SEASONING

1/3 CUP COCONUT SUGAR

1/3 CUP MAPLE SYRUP

1 TSP HONEY

2 TSP GROUND CINNAMON

1/2 TSP GROUND NUTMEG

1/4 TSP GROUND GINGER

1 TSP ARROWROOT STARCH 

1 TSP COCONUT FLOUR

1/4 TSP GROUND VANILLA BEAN (I use VanillaMax)

1/4 CUP EXTRA VIRGIN COCONUT OIL 

I used 3 different sweeteners: maple syrup, coconut sugar, and honey because it adds a depth to the flavor of the apples, but feel free to use simply honey or maple syrup. Combine all of the seasoning over the apples, and using your clean hands or tongs, toss the mixture until every apple is covered. You may notice a bourbon-colored liquid form at the bottom. Keep that on hand for the Rustic Apple Cake, or drizzle it over waffles and pancakes (and bacon!). 

DECADENT APPLE TART 

CRUST

1 CUP COCONUT FLOUR

4 TBSP ARROWROOT STARCH

1 TSP HIMALAYAN SALT

1 CUP COCONUT OIL (MELTED, THEN COOLED)

1/4 CUP COLD WATER

1 TSP GROUND VANILLA BEAN 

APPLE TART / PALEO, GLUTEN FREE, GRAIN FREE / NICOLEMCARUSO.COM

Blend the entire mixture in the food processor, pulsing until the dough looks crumbly. If you don't have a food processor, a whisk should do the trick, just try not to overdo it. Remove the crust, and press it into a parchment-lined tart pan. I traced my tart pan base on the parchment, cut out the circle, and laid it inside to ensure it would come clean at cutting time. Press the dough into the tart pan until it hits the edges and fills each little nook. Be sure the crust is an even thickness, that way it cooks evenly and everyone gets an even slice. Then, slide the tart pan onto a cookie sheet, and pop it into a 350 degree F oven to bake for 15 minutes. 

APPLE TART / PALEO, GLUTEN FREE, GRAIN FREE / NICOLEMCARUSO.COM

Remove the pie crust from the oven, and let it cool for 5 minutes. Next, take the seasoned apple slices and arrange them side by side around the perimeter, working your way in. Mine is not Bon Appétit quality, though I hope with some more practice (and the same size apples) it can get prettier each time I make it. 

APPLE TART / PALEO, GLUTEN FREE, GRAIN FREE / NICOLEMCARUSO.COM
DECADENT APPLE TART / PALEO, GLUTEN FREE, DAIRY FREE / NICOLEMCARUSO.COM

Bake the tart for 45 minutes on 350 degrees F, until you can pierce the apples through with a fork. The apples will be tender, and the seasoning drips all over the pre-baked crust making an almost caramel-like layer between them. The crust is cookie-like and dense, the perfect pairing to the slight crunch with every bite. A special tart indeed! It tastes lovely all by its bad self, but paired with coffee or Earl Grey tea, it's just perfect in my opinion. 

RUSTIC APPLE CAKE

2-3 SEASONED APPLES (OR WHATEVER WAS LEFT FROM THE TART) 

1/2 CUP CRUSHED RAW WALNUTS

1 CUP COCONUT FLOUR

6 EGGS, BEATEN

MEASURE LEFTOVER APPLE SEASONING LIQUID, AND FILL THE REST WITH WATER FOR 1 CUP TOTAL LIQUID

3/4 CUP DARK MAPLE SYRUP 

1/2 TSP SEA SALT

1 TSP BAKING SODA

1 TSP GROUND CINNAMON

1/2 TSP GROUND VANILLA BEAN 

1/4 CUP PALM SHORTENING  

In the bottom of a greased bundt pan, layer the leftover apples (without the leftover liquid) and then the crushed walnuts. Add the cake batter on top by scooping your spatula in little dollops all around the pan until the bowl is empty. Use your spatula to evenly spread the batter into the grooves of the pan, and gently push down as you flatten it in so it covers the apples and walnuts evenly. 

RUSTIC APPLE CAKE / PALEO, GRAIN FREE, GLUTEN FREE / NICOLEMCARUSO.COM
RUSTIC APPLE CAKE / PALEO, GRAIN FREE, GLUTEN FREE / NICOLEMCARUSO.COM

Bake on 350 degrees F for 40 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. When you can smell it from another room, there's a good chance it's ready. 

RUSTIC APPLE CAKE / PALEO, GRAIN FREE, GLUTEN FREE / NICOLEMCARUSO.COM
RUSTIC APPLE CAKE / PALEO, GRAIN FREE, GLUTEN FREE / NICOLEMCARUSO.COM

Allow the cake to cool for about 20 minutes in the pan, then use a butter knife to loosen the edges away from the pan. And finally, use a cake plate or platter, place the plate over the pan opening and flip it over. The cake should fall onto the plate, and if not, give it a good whack with your palm. You may need to rearrange some of the apples, but it just adds to the rustic beauty of this cake. It is dense like a coffee cake, but still moist. The cinnamon flavor mixed with the gooey apples and walnuts is pure comfort. This Rustic Apple Cake is the perfect complement to a Fall day. I love to serve it after lunch, or alongside a big breakfast, but it pairs equally well with afternoon tea. 

Nicole M. Caruso

I was born in Manhattan to two native New Yorkers who met working in the Garment Industry. Fashion was the family business. Suburban Connecticut is where I grew up and often daydreamed about someday attending New York Fashion Week.

When I was in college studying Communication & Media, I met the man of my dreams. We married nearly one year after our first date, and have been adventuring together ever since. While we moved around the country for his job, I freelanced as a makeup artist, worked in retail, and blogged about style & beauty as a creative outlet. 

Moving back to New York led to serendipitously working for two major fashion houses, where I learned the ins and outs of the industry, and attended Fashion Week both backstage and in the tents. Soon after, Verily Magazine brought me on as Beauty Editor, which was my dream job. It combined all of my passions and hobbies into one, and granted me a deeper understanding of print and digital media. One year after that, I had my daughter and experienced true fulfillment in motherhood. 

Everywhere I have traveled, I have met incredible women who inspired me to be the best version of myself; to wake up every day feeling confident and ready to Carpe Diem. I want to inspire women to explore their feminine genius by investing in their self-worth. This lifestyle blog is the place where I can share my worldview, my experiences, and my tips and tricks to live a more fulfilling life, which include expert style and beauty advice, tips for healthy living, and reflections on marriage and motherhood.