A cake for fall

It’s not officially fall yet. Not for 2 more days. But a few days ago the rain arrived, temperatures dropped and it sure feels like fall in Portland. The rain is welcome after a long, hot, dry summer. With all of the wildfires around the Pacific Northwest I think we are all collectively letting out a sigh of relief upon seeing the first drops of rain fall from the sky. The grass is turning back to green, and birds are chirping happily during the sunbreaks.

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School has also started, creating the weekday routine of setting alarms, making lunches, rushing to get dressed and get out the door on time. And oh yeah, breakfast!

My kids are okay eaters in the morning, though getting them to eat right when they wake up isn’t always successful. They love pastries (hmmm…wonder where they got that from? Ahem, me), but often times they are full of sugar and not much that is wholesome. Sometimes that’s ok, but it’s also nice to have something delicious and somewhat healthy to offer them.

I decided to come up with a quick bread recipe that combined the characteristics of a few different cakes that I love, and attempt to make it a little healthier. I wanted it to:

…be a bit spicy and rich like the pumpkin tea cake recipe from the Tartine bakery cookbook

…include some kind of fresh veggies or fruits like in carrot cake

…have the tahini and spice crust like in this Bon Appetit yogurt cake recipe

And, I wanted to try leaving out refined sugar(okay, there is some in the crust on top). I did some research on replacing sugar, compared ingredients in the different cake recipes, and gave it a go.

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So, here you have it! It’s a little spicy, moist, not too sweet. And hard to stop eating. The tahini crust is a little crunchy and adds a yummy richness.Β  My girls gobbled up the slices I brought them when I picked them up from school, and insisted on more when we got home. It’d be great for breakfast or as a snack with tea or coffee. It could even pass as dessert with scoop of ice cream or a drizzle of caramel on top!

Carrot Apple Spice cake with Tahini crust

Makes 2 4″x9″ loaves or 1 6″x10″ loaf

2 cups flour

3/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup oil

3 eggs

1/2 t baking soda

1.5 t baking powder

2 t cinnamon, divided

1/4 t ground clove, divided

1/2 t ground cardamom, divided

3/4 t salt

1/2 lb carrots, peeled, chopped and pulsed until fine in a food processor*

6 oz apple, peeled, chopped and pulsed until fine in food processor


1/4 cup tahini

4 T sugar, separated

1 t mixed spices(set aside from

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour pan(s). Mix maple syrup, oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Mix until well combined. Combine spices, and set aside about 1 t for topping. Stir in remaining ingredients except for carrots and apples. Mix one minute. Stir in carrots and apples. Pour into pan.

Combine tahini with 2 T sugar. Combine 1 t spice mix with 2 T sugar. Drizzle tahini mixture over cake(s). Sprinkle spiced sugar over.

For smaller pans, bake for 35 minutes or when toothpick comes out dry. For larger pan, 40 minutes or when toothpick comes out dry.

Cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Turn out of pan. Continue to cool until they reach room temperature. Enjoy! Keeps for 3 days at room temperature, 5 in the refrigerator.

*If you want a nice fine crumb that is moist(how I think it’s best!), chop carrots and apples or pulse in food processor until very fine. If they are chunkier it will make for a chunkier cake. You can also grate with a box grater.


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