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Gosh, it seems so long ago when food blogging started. But once word got out, others started jumping in. Not only were there new and even more diverse voices from around the world to be heard, but the next geners were better with their cameras than the rest of us were, setting the standards for the future. (For me, it was quite a learning curve. All I used to know how to do was bake cookies and cakes!) One who really stood out was Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille. Her photographs were stunning, she was also from the Basque region, from a family of pastry chefs, so her recipes were solid too.

As people like Pim of Chez Pim went on to open a series of amazing Thai restaurants and earning a Michelin star, Clotilde became a personal coach, Adam of Amateur Gourmet moved to LA to be a screenwriter, Graham of Noodle Pie became an editor and writing coach, Elise, who moved back home with her parents and learned how to cook, sold her massively successful blog, and Matt of MattBites became a much sought-after food photographer, and Aran opened her own photography studio and wrote three cookbooks, including her newest Canelle et Vanille Bakes Simple. Whew!…has time flown by or what?

I loved peeking into Aran’s world, from her home in Seattle, with glimpses into her life and family on trips to the Basque region, an area that straddles France and Spain, which has its own language as well as its own culture and cuisine. Aran is a fourth-generation baker and comes from a family of pastry chefs so it’s no surprise that she is an ace baker, and her career spanned from going to pastry school to working in a fancy 5-star hotel.

Eventually Aran decided to spend more time with her family and left the professional baking world. It was then she found out that she, and her kids, were gluten-intolerant, and she began what she calls in the book her “own career trajectory” exploring the world of alternate flours, which culminated in writing Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple, her book devoted exclusively to baking without gluten.

Aran’s training as a pastry chef shines through (and as a photographer as well, with beautiful photos in the book that she took herself) and I found the gluten-free bread chapter particularly compelling: There’s a recipe for a quick, crusty boule, another for roasted Concord grape bread, chewy bagels lavished with tons of seeds, highly-toastable English muffins (page 90), as well as babka, crackers, garlic and herb naan and…yes…crusty baguettes, right there on page 92.

There’s also a range of cakes in the book (…I’m looking at you, Coconut Layer Cake with Caramel!), nearly two dozen recipes in the chapter of “The Flakiest Tarts, Pies, and Biscuits,” and whole chapter devoted to Holiday Desserts including a Chocolate bûche de Noël. And, of course, you can’t write a baking book with cookies, and she’s got ’em in a chapter of Crispy, Crunchy, Chewy Cookies.

I was intrigued by the Chocolate-Tahini Buckwheat Marble Cake with chocolate glaze. I had an a-ha! moment (which I explained in this post about Kig ha farz, buckwheat dumplings from Brittany), when I learned that French buckwheat flour is lighter, and more refined than American buckwheat flour, which is darker and whole-grain. A few readers commented on the exceptionally dark color of their buckwheat crêpes (called galettes in France) and other desserts and I finally learned why.

Since many of you likely don’t have access to light buckwheat flour, in this recipe you can also use superfine brown rice flour or make light buckwheat flour yourself, as Aran does, grinding buckwheat groats in a high-speed blender. Or you can use darker, whole-grain buckwheat flour, as I did here, which will taste just as good, although the layers won’t be as distinct.

Aran also includes non-dairy and vegan substitutions in the book. While there’s a tendency to blow off vegetarians and vegan baking, I like vegetarian food and don’t have a problem with polenta, buckwheat, coconut milk, and almond flour in baked goods. There’s a way to use those things, and others, without making food taste like a sad shadow of what it should taste like. It’s just different, and there’s nothing wrong with being different.

I was also intrigued by the chocolate glaze for this cake, which is non-dairy. It’s a lighter and fruitier riff on chocolate ganache, but without any cream. It’s off-script but interesting – and yes, it’s delicious. And I didn’t feel any guilt spooning it with abandon over the cake.

[For a limited time, signed copies of Canelle et Vanilla Bakes Simple are available at Now Serving cookbook store.]

Chocolate, Tahini and Buckwheat Marble Cake

Adapted from Canelle et Vanille Bakes Simple by Aran Goyoaga
Aran recommends using light buckwheat flour, which is the kind that's usually sold in France. Living in Seattle, she grinds her own buckwheat groats in a high-speed blender. (You can also use a coffee bean grinder.) Whole-grain buckwheat flour is darker and what is usually available in the US, although not commonly found in France. Whole-grain buckwheat flour will work (it's what I used in the post) but will make the marbling much less distinct. For those who want to use wheat flour, Aran noted that all-purpose flour will work in its place.
The glaze is a super-easy take on ganache, lightened up with apricot jam in place of the usual heavy cream, and has a pleasant fruity edge. Maple syrup is lovely in it but very mild honey would work, or another liquid alternative sweetener, although the texture might be a bit different. The original recipe made a full cup (250gml) of it and I had plenty leftover from that so I halved it here. Feel free to double the quantity and use any extra for serving with ice cream.
Course Dessert
Servings 10 servings

For the Cake

  • 1 cup (125g) light buckwheat flour, (see headnote)
  • 1 cup (100g) almond flour, also called almond meal
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) melted virgin coconut oil , or neutral-tasting vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (120g) well-stirred tahini
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, or oat milk
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process

Chocolate Glaze

  • 6 tablespoons (105g) apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons (40g) maple syrup, (or mild honey)
  • 2 tablespoons (22g) neutral-tasting vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons (13g) unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

For the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC.) Spray the inside of a 9- or 10-cup (about 23cm) bundt pan with nonstick spray or brush with coconut oil.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour, almond flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the melted coconut or vegetable oil, tahini, milk, eggs, vinegar or lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix just until smooth, but don't overmix. Place half of the batter into a smaller bowl and whisk in the cocoa powder.
  • In alternating, generous spoonfuls, layer the batters into the pan. Use a butter knife to swirl the two batters slightly, but don't overdo it. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes, then invert it onto a wire cooling rack and remove the cake pan. Let cool completely before glazing.

For the glaze

  • Put the jam, maple syrup, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt in a mini food processor or blender. Blend on high speed for 1 minute until very smooth and creamy. If you want to use it right away, if it's too thick to pour it can be very gently warmed, but if it's pourable, spoon it right over the finished cake.


Storage: The cake can keep at room temperature 2 to 3 days. The glaze can be made 1 week in advance and refrigerated. Let come to room temperature, or gently rewarm it, to use.



    • Lori

    I’m incredibly intrigued by this cake, David! I have all of the ingredients on hand. I’m going to give it a go on Friday. Thank you for what looks like a very interesting and delicious recipe.

    • Janet

    I waited for Aran’s new cookbook for months and just got it yesterday. Everything looks delectable! I had made her “Black olive, caraway & honey yeast bread” from her previous cookbook “Cannelle et Vanille” a few times and it tasted like a bread I could get from a very decent bakery in France. Since then, she’s become my hero! This time round, I will attack the baguette recipe first, as it seems it’s near impossible to make a decent gluten-free baguette. That whole bread section will keep me glued to her book for a while. And I’m not even gluten-intolerant. She is just an angel sent from Heaven!

    • Chris

    Much of what you wrote is also true about you. You are multi-talented as a writer, photographer and recipe developer!

    • Susan Geery

    Amen to what Chris said. I enjoy your emails and love your first book and the one about the remodeling of your home in Paris. Susan

      • Wendy

      In my experience, almond meal is a more coarse grind, and almond flour is very fine. Do you think it matters for this recipe? My best friend eats gluten-free and dairy-free, so I love ideas of treats she can enjoy.

    • Kathy Sabatier

    I’d like to make this cake without chocolate. What would you suggest as a substitute both in the cake and the glaze?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Maybe carob?

      • Diar A.

      The Zoom event would be midnight sharp in Indonesia time, but I’m so looking forward to it.

      • Chloe

      I wonder if ginger cake spices and molasses would make a good stand in for chocolate. I’m thinking it would need something strong to contrast the buckwheat.

        • rose

        @Chloe Chocolate and buckwheat really go well together – give it a try!

        And David, I’ve read all the blogs you mentioned, including yours obviously!, since the early days. I mourned Pim’s blog so much but she led me to discover the amazing David Kinch and Manresa and that was a nice parting gift. I’ve never been to eat there but have you? His talented California chef’s life with all the surfing and local farm relationships seems/seemed like the sweetest (Cali usage) culinary existence.

        I used to rely on Bea of Tartine Gourmand’s gf recipes and then Aran came to the party with C-et-V so I cannot wait to try this cake!

    • Mark Steele

    David, I love your trip down food blog
    memory lane. So glad you are still doing it in 2021! Will order Aran’s book,
    as more and more people are asking for gluten free desserts.

    • Hesther

    Hello! David, I enjoy your writing very much (and I think you’re getting sassier & sassier so now you’re double my role model)! I’m wondering, in general, what (if anything) is a good substitute for a bundt pan?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Hester: A tube pan works well, too

      As food blogs evolve, and multiply so quickly, the voices are sometimes sounding similar and I miss some of the voices and diverse opinions of people in the food community. Also the public has become used to certain things, thanks to (or because of) social media, and it’s not always possible to keep up with everything. One reason that I’m moving more of my content to my newsletter is that I can be looser and creative there, like the first days of blogging where things were a lot more casual…and there wasn’t so much technology to keep on top of! : )

    • Melanie

    Hi David, I’m excited about this book, and appreciate you sharing it with us. Your bundt pan is beautiful–I’m wondering whether one like it could be found in the US. Would you mind sharing what brand it is? Also, thumbs up for linking to the book on instead of that giant company that starts with A.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      It’s a Nordicware pan. Made in the U.S.!
      : )

        • Melanie

        Oh that’s great, thank you. I love Nordicware. Also meant to say, I think I will try this recipe with peanut butter, as I’m not a big fan of tahini. Although I must admit I’ve not tried it in a dessert, and maybe the flavor would be different in this recipe? Your photos are lovely and are definitely urging me onward toward baking.

    • Francheska Leon De La Barra

    Hi David, this looks delicious! I do have to sub the almond flour for some other gf alternative due to nut allergies. Any suggestions? Was thinking maybe oat flour. Thanks !

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      My guess is that yes, you could sub another flour for the nut flour. Nut flours do add some moisture as nuts are high in oil, but if you give it a try with oat (or another) flour, let us know how it turns out!

        • Francheska Leon De La Barra

        I just made this cake with oat flour rather than almond flour and I can confirm it came out great! I’m sure it changed the flavor a bit, but if anyone wants to make this gf, and nut allergy friendly, I’m happy to say oat flour is a good alternative :)

          • David
          David Lebovitz

          Thanks for letting us know that worked well!

    • Susan Dailey

    Oh thank you so much for this recipe. I love cake, but have just been put on Low FODMAP diet and I can make this.

    • Lori

    David, I made this cake in mini Bundt pans so I could share with others. It came out fantastic. Something about the mix of flavors is truly addictive. I also used the regular (not light) buckwheat flour, and it came out wonderful. The glaze also is really different. Super enjoyed the recipe! I just made it a few hours ago, and already had a slice. Can’t wait to share it.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks for letting us know it worked out well in mini bundt pans…and that you and your friends liked it too! Yes, the glaze is different. Not the same as cream-rich ganache, but I did like it a lot.

        • Lori

        You’re welcome, David. And thank you for sharing this truly unique and wonderful recipe! It’s a keeper that I’ll be using over and over.

    • Hannah

    Hi David, this post reminded me of when you did a book signing at the American Library in Paris a few years ago. I believe you mentioned something about “go out there and have experiences!” Or at least that’s what I remember. I lost my notes. :(
    If that sounds like something you might have mentioned, will you elaborate on it? Inspiring post!

    • Kimberly

    I have a friends-giving next weekend and I’ve been looking for something to bake. (and a bit more nutritious using buckwheat flour too)

    • Arturo

    Just am fyi -On the topic of the corn bread you made i think pinole (roasted corn flour) might be generally available it’s often used for drinks so you’d have to get it with no sugar or flavoring. I’m thinking of using it to try and make the Basque talo as well

    • Jill

    Brilliant chat with Aran today!

    I saw you flash this article and wanted to address accessing light buckwheat in the US. I use Ployes Acadian Light Buckwheat in gf bread and cookies. I wonder if it would work here. I will try to grind my own as well to compare but for people who don’t want to, this is definitely much, much lighter than the other US brands.

    • Katherine

    This looks great! I’m excited to give it a try!

    You mention that “Aran also includes non-dairy and vegan substitutions in the book.” Did she suggest anything to replace the eggs in this recipe? I have a friend who is allergic and I’m wondering what would be best in their place.


      • David
      David Lebovitz

      She has a general recommendation in the book of 1T flaxseed meal (ground) mixed with 2T hot water per egg, letting it sit until it gels. She also suggests adding 1/4 teaspoon additional baking powder to a recipe that calls for baking powder. If you do try it, let us know how it turns out!

    • Ariane

    These are sooooooo good! Thanks for the recipe! I baked 1/2 recipe in muffin tins (6) as I’m the only one home loving this kind of flavor association. As my sister would say (in French): “c’est chelou ton truc”.

    • Karen

    I really looked forward to making this cake, and was disappointed. The flavors were lackluster, the cake slightly on the dry side. The glaze was good and gave it a bit more personality, but definitely not what I expected. The recipe needs a bit more work.


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