Recipe: Gluten Free Low-Sugar Prune Cake

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Today we step away from writing and fangirling, and delve into cooking… (I apologize for the lack of jump to recipe–I’m in quick mode and don’t have time to figure that out right this second–just go to the bottom of the page). Click Jump to Recipe if you want to get there quickly!

When I was growing up, during the holiday season my mom used to make this prune cake that I loved. It was amazingly moist (I attribute that to the sugar and oil). It was a little dense, but so good. I ate it up as soon as I was allowed to cut into it (I had to wait for whatever event it had been made for!).

Going sugar free (for diet-controlled pre-diabetes) meant no more sweet baked goods, and at the time, options for substitutes were limited. Then I discovered that I also needed to be gluten free, and baking mostly just… stopped.

In recent years, more options have come out for sugar substitutes. And with more information about how to work with gluten free products being produced, I was able to start arming myself with data. I’ve been jonesing to bake again. It was my happy space, once upon a time, and I’d love if it could be again. But the problem is, I don’t want to bake when the food only tastes good to me. I want to create gluten free and low-sugar items that make other people want to indulge as well.

I’ve picked a selection of old favorites (and at least one new-to-me) from my recipes to start modifying, and yesterday, I made prune cake to share with my knitting group.

Instead of a bundt, I baked it in a 9×13 pan. I didn’t use my mom’s recipe–I didn’t want to bug her to go find it and transcribe it RIGHT NOW when I was having the urge to bake. Instead I found one online that was close to what I remembered. I also had to deal with it being much harder to get 8oz of pure pureed baby food prunes at a decent price these days, so I used a prune/apple combination (which I do think changed the flavor a little).

Was it exactly the cake I remembered? Hah, no. But oh my goodness, it was GOOD. Like everyone at knitting complimented it good. The texture isn’t the same, but it IS cakey, and light, and delicious. The sweetness levels were surprisingly close to perfect; I might back off a tiny bit on the amount of sucralose included.

A little about my thought processes as I rebuilt the recipe…

For the sweeteners, the original called for 1c brown sugar, and 1c white sugar. Like. WOW that is a LOT of sugar. I swapped that for 1/2c sucralose (for the super sweet), 1/2c swerve (because it behaves better, but we don’t want too much of that minty effect), and 1c allulose (less sweet than sugar, but behaves well). I also used 2T of blackstrap molasses–it has lower sugar, and more taste. Next time I make this (and yes, I’ll edit the recipe if it works better), I will probably add 1T of molasses and go down to 1/4c of the sucralose.

You’ll notice I do not use stevia. I recognize that a lot of people are big fans of it. I’m not. I am one of those people for whom it is very bitter, so I try to avoid it in my baking.

The other issue was, of course, the 2c all purpose flour. For my purposes, I swapped that out to 2c of Bob’s Red Mill GF Baking Blend (I think that’s the proper name) by weight, and rounded up (I used 300g instead of 298g). I also added an egg, increasing from 3 to 4 in the recipe, because eggs help with structure.

I definitely used more cinnamon and cloves than were called for, and I added vanilla. To be honest, I wanted a bit more spice, and a lot more prune flavor, so I will work on that next time, too.

I didn’t glaze it, because well, sugar! But I did serve it with a sugar-free cinnamon and vanilla stabilized (with cornstarch) whipped cream.

If you decide to make it, I’d love to know how it comes out.

A brown cake on parchment paper on a cutting board. One piece has been cut out.

Gluten Free Low-Sugar Prune Cake

Old-world prune cake modernized for the gluten free and low sugar diet.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Servings 16

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup sucralose
  • 1/2 cup erythritol (I used Swerve)
  • 1 cup allulose
  • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 2 cup all purpose GF flour blend (I used Bob's Red Mill GF baking blend which worked perfectly–any blend with xanthan gum included should be good)
  • 1 cup neutral oil
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (add more to taste)
  • 1 pinch cloves (add more to taste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 8 oz baby food pureed prunes (prunes + apples also works)
  • 4 eggs

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Either place baking parchment into, or grease, a 9×13" pan.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together sucralose, erythritol, allulose, cinnamon, cloves, and GF flour.
  • In another bowl or large measuring cup, whisk the eggs. Add the oil, molasses, and vanilla, and whisk until well combined. Whisk in prunes.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and beat until the mixture is smooth. Pour into the prepared pan, and place in the preheated oven.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean, and the center of the cake is mostly-dry and springy.
  • Remove from oven when done. If using baking parchment, use it to lift the cake out of the pan to cool on a rack. If not, place the pan on a rack and cool. Let cool completely before slicing into squares and serving.
    Note that this cake is very tender.

Notes

Some quick notes to help out!
Check the sizes on the baby food containers, and confirm that they add up to 8 ounces. To get pure pureed prunes you may need to buy smaller containers.
I have not tried making this gluten free but with full sugar. If you do try this, let me know how it comes out!
If you use a flour blend that does not contain xanthan gum, you will need to add some. I have not calculated how much at this time.
I have seen recipes that glaze this hot so it soaks in. My mom made a sugar glaze that we put on after it cooled–the kind that cracked deliciously.
Keyword Cake, Gluten Free, Low Sugar

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