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Lucky Comestible II (5): Apple-Quinoa Cake

[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  For this second entry, I’m focusing on Quinoa. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. This is the last entry on quinoa.]

The moment I decided to present a Lucky Comestible series about quinoa, I simultaneously decided I’d have to include at least one baked goodie.  I know what you’re thinking:  “Now, Ricki, haven’t you already included a recipe for said baked goodie?  After all, you did post about Almond-Quinoa Muffins before the involuntary GBR, didn’t you?” 

Why, yes! Yes, I did. However, technically speaking, muffins are a “baked good,” not a “baked goodie“–the latter term reserved for dessert-type treats, such as cakes, pies, cookies, tarts, or bars.  I wanted to see if I couldn’t turn quinoa into something at least quasi cake-like, despite its elevated whole grain status–something worthy of the term, “dessert”–something that even skeptics like Johanna or Wendy (who mentioned on Johanna’s blog that quinoa reminds her of worms!) could enjoy. 

So, even though personally, my favorite use of quinoa is as a base for salad (where its true essence can shine through), I let my mind wander back toward baking.  And while so doing, I remembered that, in actuality, quinoa is not really a grain–it’s a seed related to beets and leafy greens such as spinach or chard.  Well, okay, I’ve already used spinach in a previous baked goodie, so that didn’t deter me at all.  And even if my quinoa creation didn’t turn out as decadent as a molten chocolate cake, I figured I could still whip up something with both a great nutritional profile AND a sweetness rating high enough to please the kids as an after-school snack, or to serve unexpected guests, with a steaming cup of green tea.  (“And don’t forget, it’s also good enough as a special treat for your sweet and devoted Girls, Mum! We LOVE apple-quinoa cake. . .”)

Since we already had a bag of Macintosh apples withering away on the counter, I started there.  I imagined that a lightly spiced batter would work well with the sturdy taste of quinoa, which can sometimes be a bit domineering in a crowd. For some reason (perhaps because quinoa itself is gluten-free), I decided the bars should also be celiac-friendly. 

What I ended up with was a light and moist cake, studded with raisins and sunflower seeds alongside thin shreds of apple and grains of quinoa.  The cake is slightly chewy, slightly crunchy, with a tender crumb and pleasing spice.  And because it’s fashioned from leftovers of both quinoa and apple, I thought it would be a perfect submission to the Leftover Tuesdays event, hosted by Project Foodie

Mum, you disappoint us.  Raisins?  You know we can’t eat raisins.  But maybe you could pick them out for us. . . ”

 Apple-Quinoa Cake

Next time you cook up some quinoa and find yourself with leftovers, try this great snack cake. Without being excessively sweet and boasting sunflower seeds, two fruits and two whole grains, the cake is nutritious enough to eat for breakfast, though still light enough for dessert.  The subtle apple and trio of spices is a tantalizing combination–you may have to stop yourself from having more than one piece!

2 whole medium apples, cored and coarsely grated (about 1 cup lightly packed or 200 g.)–I used Macintosh and left the skins on

1/2 cup (125 ml.) agave nectar

1/2 cup (125 ml.) sunflower or other light-tasting oil

2 cups (160 g.) cooked quinoa

2 tsp. (10 ml.) finely ground chia seeds*

2 tsp. (10 ml.) pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. (5 ml.) apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup (40 g.) sunflower seeds

1/4 cup (40 g. ) raisins

1-1/3 cups (160 g.) whole oat flour

1 tsp. (5 ml.) baking powder

1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) baking soda

1 tsp. (5 ml.) ground ginger

2 tsp. (10 ml.) ground cinnamon

1 tsp. (10 ml.) or less, to taste, cardamom

1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) sea salt

1/4 cup whole oats

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).  Grease a 9″ square pan, or line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix the grated apple, agave nectar, oil, quinoa, Salba, vanilla, vinegar, sunflower seeds and raisins.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, soda, ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, and sea salt.  Add the oats. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix well. 

Pour into prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool before cutting into slices.

Makes 9 breakfast servings or 12 dessert servings.  Best eaten the day it’s made.

* If you don’t have or can’t find chia, you could try substituting 2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds; but the cake will probably be denser and heavier this way.

Other Posts in this Series:

Lucky Comestible II (1): Quinoa Salad with Buckwheat and Cranberries

Lucky Comestible II (2): Almond-Quinoa Muffins

Lucky Comestible II (3): Quinoa-Oatmeal Croquettes

Lucky Comestible II (4): Tagine of Quinoa with Chickpeas, Olives and Prunes 

Other Quinoa Recipes:

(Got a quinoa recipe?  Send me the link during this Lucky Comestible week, and I’ll add it to the list!)




31 comments to Lucky Comestible II (5): Apple-Quinoa Cake

  • Ricki, I thought that your FIRST type of quinoa baked good was amazing; and now you came up with these bars!! You’re simply brilliant!!


  • Em

    Those bars look sensational! Wow!!


  • I’m a sucker for quinoa, and I’m a sucker for convenience foods such as bars. You hit the jackpot in my books!! =)


  • I will definitely be baking up this recipe! I’ve been meaning to tell you that I’m going to make my quinoa breakfast bars again and post the recipe to share.


  • what do you mean that muffins aren’t baked goodies! You might change your mind if you tasted some of the decadent chocolate flourless muffins I have had! Maybe I would get over my quinoa skepticism if I combined it with chocolate 🙂 Seriously, I think I could do these but with another fruit – like banana or apricots!


  • you are fueling my quinoa obsession! but i like it


  • Ricki, I’m in heaven! Quinoa is one of my favorite foods of all times, and your recipes are incredible!! This cake looks positively heavenly – I have some apples waiting in the fridge that must have been made for your luscious cake… 🙂 I can’t wait to run home after class and fix this… Thank you for the incredible recipe, and the wealth of quinoa goodness!


  • I love quinoa–love it plain with a little olive oil and salt–but making it a cookie bar just made it oh so much better! Yum! I love the detailed quinoa resource you’ve created here!


  • You know, I tried one of Lucy’s quinoa recipes at the weekend and really quite liked it. Also fancy these cakes. Perhaps I’m being converted. 🙂


  • This looks beautiful and so tasty. I’ve copied down the recipe.


  • Yet another fine quinoa recipe. I’m just loving this series Ricki!


  • Those look wonderful and a great use of leftovers! Yum!


  • Romina,
    Thanks–not sure about “brilliant,” but definitely on the trail for great quinoa recipes!! 😉

    Thanks! Let me know how you like them if you try them out.

    I think these would be a good way to get quinoa on the run–so yes, convenient AND chock full of your favorite grain!

    Glad it appeals! And I’m very much looking forward to seeing those bars (sounded like a perfect breakfast to me) 🙂


    Okay, I guess SOME muffins can be “goodIES” rather than “goodS” (well, yours sound decadent, anyway!). I’d love to hear how these come out with other fruit–though I think dried fruit wouldn’t work, as the moisture from the raw apple contributes to the texture of the bars here.

    Happy Herbivore,
    There are worse obsessions to fuel–so go for it!

    Astra Libris,
    Thanks so much! Do let me know how they turned out if you end up making them!

    Thanks so much! Your description of quinoa in its pure glory with olive oil and salt made my mouth water–that’s something I HAVEN’T tried yet (and thinking I must).

    Thanks for your comment! Yay–a quinoa convert (okay, almost). 😉 Hope you’ll give these a try.

    Thanks so much! Would love to hear how you like them if you end up trying them out.

    Thanks so much! Glad you’re enjoying it. 🙂

    Foodie Pam,
    Welcome to the blog–and thanks for your comment! Glad you like the look of this one. I had fun creating it for the event and look forward to the roundup!


  • This sounds fantastic! I’ve been dreaming up a recipe like this in my head but wasn’t sure how to go about it… you’ve made my life much easier 🙂


  • Foodeater,
    Thanks for your comment, and welcome to the blog! I am happy to oblige. . . 🙂


  • This cake really appeals to me. Like you, I tend to use quinoa in savoury salads but I’m keen to diversify to baking with it. 🙂

    Ha, and I like your distinction between baked goods and baked goodies, I have a habit of thinking like that too!


  • Cindy,
    Thanks so much, and welcome to the blog! And I do think we need both “goods” AND “goodies” in a balanced diet! 😉


  • […] an intriguing looking recipe for a quinoa cake at Diet, Dessert and Dogs that I haven’t gotten to try yet, but it’s high on my […]

  • Charles Hipser

    Are quinoa and salba the same thing?


  • emmie

    made this cake today (with a few additions of my own fancy- ginger & whiskey preserve and some sour cherries!). WHAT A FIND!! absolutely gorgeous; so moist & tasty. Goes so well served warm with ice cream or yoghurt. I added grated carrot in place of half of one of the grated apples. My work colleagues often get the benefit of my baking sprees, this’ll definitely be one of the more popular “treats” i’ll be taking in next week on nightshifts!. thanks very much.


    Ricki Reply:

    Emmie, so glad you liked it! I love your additions, too. I’ll have to try it again that way! 🙂


  • Kay

    Thanks for posting this recipe! I was looking for a breakfast-type cake using quinoa, and this is a great one. I didn’t have sunflower seeds, and I don’t care for raisins in baked goods, so I didn’t include those, but I did add blueberries instead. Yum!


  • […] Ricky’s Apple-Quinoa cake. I made these into cupcakes so I could easily freeze them. They were very moist, lightly sweetened, and full of flavor! I also loved the texture the quinoa gave them. A+ […]

  • That looks incredibly delicious!! 🙂


  • Govs

    This recipe sounds gorgeus! I tried a quinoa cake with apple and cinnamon in a organic food store, I’ve been looking for the recipe since then!
    I’ve followed your instructions and now I have the cake in the oven, it’s been there for 70 minuts but when I test the center is still wet, I’ve used your measures but I think it may have too much quinoa or I don’t know what else can failed. When you put the mixture in the pan it looks thick or it may be liquid?


    Ricki Reply:

    Hi Govs,
    I’m not sure what made it stay wet. It could depend on the type of apple, the humidity or elevation of the location, the exact size and material of the pan, or the specific oven you used. It is a very moist cake, and it does dry out a bit once it’s cool. How did you fare in the end?


  • Sarah

    I am on the candida diet and always on the lookout for baking that works for it (the blueberry muffins are a go-to favourite!) – would there be a way to make this with stevia instead? Substituting something (applesauce?) for the lost moisture of the agave?


    Ricki Reply:

    That’s a tough one, Sarah, as I’ve never tried it that way. I think using applesauce is a great idea. If you can tolerate coconut sugar, try that first (or a combination of coconut sugar and stevia for a better flavor). Let me know how it turns out if you give it a try! I have been thinking recently about revamping some of the older recipes to be ACD-friendly. . . gotta get on that!


  • barb

    What can I use instead of oats and oat flour?


    Ricki Reply:

    Hi Barb,
    I’ve never made it any other way except with oats and oat flour, so I’m not sure what else might work. You can try quinoa flakes or buckwheat flakes instead of the oats, and I’d go with millet or all-purpose GF flour for the oat, but I can’t promise it will turn out that way. If you do try it, let me know how it works out! 🙂


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