Gluten Free Apple Cake

October 20, 2016

I had recently walked by Trader Joe’s at a miraculously non-crowded hour. I found their gluten free all-purpose baking flour. I wasn’t sure what I was going to bake with it but it was dancing around my head.


And then we went apple picking. I found a bounty of apples sitting on my dining table. Most people see apples and think apple pie. I love cake. A google search for apple cake recipes produced a great list. I decided to use elements from different recipes and settled upon this:




3/4 cup TJ’s all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

4 large apples

2 large eggs

3/4 cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons dark rum

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled



½ cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350.


Line and butter a spring form pan.

Cut up your apples. I cut them into big chunks. You can make them smaller if you like.


Combine the flour, baking powder and spices, and set aside.


Whisk the eggs until fluffy then blend in the sugar until the lumps are out. Add the vanilla and rum.

Alternately add the flour and butter a little at a time until it is all combined.

This is where you can add the pecans – my family does not care for nuts in their baked goods but I do!

Then stir in the apples.

Pour the lumpy batter into the spring form pan.

Bake for about 50 minutes – check it to see if a knife comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely – it will be tempting to want to jump in right away but it will fall apart if you take it out to soon.


Once it is cool you can take it out. If you want you may add fresh whipped cream but you really do not need it.



Pig Pickin’ Cake

August 25, 2015

Baking is a form of meditation for me. I love the process of mixing ingredients and watching them morph into something delectable. When I feel blah I whip up a batch of cookies. It is better than popping a pill or scheduling a counseling session for me.

In the fifth grade Mrs. Morris let me use a cookbook as one of my book report projects – I brought in cookies for the entire class and the office staff too.

In my early years as a fulltime mom I baked in between nursing, diaper changes, nursery school drop offs. My baking became popular and so I started selling cakes and cookies for events. I eventually started my own little baking business from my home – Leigh Anne’s Southern Sweet Tooth.

Many of the cakes I baked were from box mixes in the beginning. Rob encouraged me to work from scratch. Back in the 70’s or 80’s there was a trend to doctor up boxed cake mixes. A quick internet search shows a whole host of books and websites dedicated to this practice.

Growing up in North Carolina we had pig roasts and barbecues called Pig Pickin’s, you know, you pick at the pig! I do not know why but there is a specific cake called a Pig Pickin’ cake. There is no pig involved in the creation of this cake. We often brought these to family reunions.

Pig Pickin’ cake is one of those cake mixes that gets all doctored up. Well, my challenge was to make this delicious orange and pineapple dessert.

It became one of my top sellers. I even made it for a wedding!

pig picking cake for wedding

pig picking cake for wedding

I made it recently for a family reunion. This was for the Northeastern segment of my family (yes, I come from a mixed marriage, Daddy is from the north and Mama from the south!) I was shocked that my younger children had never tasted it. I had not made a Pig Pickin’ cake in so long.

Well, I decided to share the joy of a homemade traditional southern dessert.



1 ½ cups sugar

4 eggs

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 ¼ teaspons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup oil or melted butter

8 ounce cans of mandarin oranges


1 cup of cream for whipping

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 ounce of cream cheese softened

1 can crushed pineapple

8 ounce can of mandarin oranges

Preheat oven to 350

Butter two 8” cake pans

Take out cream cheese to soften

Combine sugar and eggs, beat for 30 seconds on high, add remaining ingredients and blend for one minute until all is combined

Bake about 25 minutes – until a toothpick inserted into cakes comes out clean

Let cool (I often place my cakes in the fridge or even freezer if I am in a hurry to cool!)

Whip your cream and the vanilla until fluffy – do not over mix or you get butter 😦

Drain the pineapple and blend with the softened cream cheese, when these two are combined gently fold into the whipped cream.

Frost your two layers and place the drained mandarin oranges in any pattern you please.


Then watch out! This cake will disappear quickly!


I love baking. It relaxes me. It chills me out.

I tried knitting. I would go to conferences and see the Zen aura haloing the knitting needled goddesses as the sticks gently clacked together as soft sweaters and scarves emerged. I tried it. It totally freaked me out! I wanted to scream. I wanted to impale those needles into the eyes of those sweater-making freaks. I could not sit still and make sure I counted those stitches and the rows. What if I fell short a stitch. I could not go back. If I unrolled it I would cry. Eventually my daughter finished the scarf I started years ago. She wrapped it up in beautiful Christmas wrap and placed it under the tree.



So, I went back to the kitchen. Baking is honest, straightforward.  There are rules but they are bendable. There is creativity. Before I was a lactation consultant I had a little baking business called Leigh Anne’s Southern Sweet Tooth. I baked for a local café and I baked for a restaurant in SoHo. I also baked for private events including a couple of weddings.

About three years ago I discovered I was allergic to wheat! Yikes! I have toyed with gluten-free flours and flour-free baking. Some has been great while some has turned out disastrous.

Nonetheless I still bake with beautiful, silky, binding flour. Nothing holds a cake or cookies together the same as good old-fashioned wheat flour – not whole wheat, just regular flour. Go get some, run your hands through it. It is dreamy.

One of my popular cakes is my lemon cake. No one makes the way I do – until now. I am going to share this recipe. This is a dense, moist, sweet and tart cake.



Leigh Anne’s Luscious Lemon Cake



1 ½ cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice (6-8 lemons)


Zest of 2 lemons (some will be used for the frosting)

2 ½ cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350. I like to put wax paper on my pans and use butter to prep the cake pans. I use two eight-inch pans.




Beat together the eggs and sugar for 30 seconds.


Add the remaining ingredients and beat on high for a minute and a half. Pour into the baking pans. Bake for about 20 minutes. Use a cake tester, knife or fork to test for doneness.

Let cool.



1 box of confectioners sugar

1 block of cream cheese

1 stick of unsalted butter

Zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla






Let the cream cheese reach room temperature, combine all the ingredients until smooth.

Frost the cake and enjoy!