small plates & sweet treats cookbook review

Small Plates & Sweet Treats {Photos: Aran Goyoaga}

I remember instantly falling in love the first time I came across the Cannelle et Vanille blog years ago. I wasn’t the first one nor would I be the last to be enchanted by the beautiful photos, the delicious recipes and the sense of endless summer zen that seemed to reign over Aran Goyoaga’s blog. If it were possible, I would’ve dived in and moved into Aran’s blog to live in a world of beauty, eternal sunshine and sweet treats. Her recipes spoke to me and reminded me of my own childhood, growing up in a home where the sweet smell of my mother’s baking always permeated the air. The Cannelle et Vanille blog became one of my go-to blogs whenever I was searching for a sweet recipe to make.

The first time I emailed Aran with a question about a recipe, I was surprised to get an answer within minutes. I continued emailing on occasion to chat about recipes and then to ask Aran if she would like to come to Montreal for a food styling and photography workshop. It took about a year and a half but we finally made it happen this past June and it was a complete success! It was also the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Watching her work during the workshops and knowing what goes on “behind the scenes” has not in any way diminished the admiration I feel every time I see one of her photos. So imagine a whole book full of these photos! Aran’s book – Small Plates & Sweet Treats – has been on my Amazon wish list for quite some time. I was so happy to finally get my hands on it a few days ago. Flipping through its pages, I felt exactly the same way I did the first time I stumbled on the Cannelle et Vanille blog: I wanted to dive in and live in the book. I wanted to sit down and cuddle with it. And I wanted to make every single recipe!

The book is organized by seasons and I naturally turned to the autumn section and to its sweet treats, because we all know I tend to lean towards the sweet side. The apple, yogurt & olive oil upside down cake  (page 59) jumped out at me so I had to make it, especially since I already had almost everything needed for it on hand. The recipes also happens to be gluten-free because that’s how Aran and her family eat at home but I made a non gluten-free version of the cake by adding up all the different flours in the recipe (by weight) and replacing them with all-purpose flour. The cake turned out delicious! Fluffy, light and perfectly complemented by the caramelized apples on top. I have a feeling it will become a favourite fall recipe.

I topped the cake with Aran’s pistachio crumble, a recipe from her blog which I’ve fallen in love with a while ago. I always make a big batch and freeze it. I then place some on a cookie sheet and bake whenever I need a great, crunchy, bright green addition to a dessert. It’s absolutely delicious with this apple cake. Just make sure to add the crumble just before serving otherwise it will absorb the moisture from the cake and become soggy.

Upside Down Apple Cake recipe

Upside Down Apple Cake recipe {Photo: Aran Goyoaga}

Apple, yogurt & olive oil upside down cake
Recipe by Aran Goyoaga from Small Plates & Sweet Treats


  • 3 Pink Lady apples, or any other crisp apple you like
  • 2 tablespoons (or 30 g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (130 g) natural cane sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • 3/4 cup (105 g) superfine brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup (35 g) almond flour
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) potato starch
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) millet flour
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) packed muscovado or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) whole-milk plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease an 8 by 3-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.
  2. Core the apples, quarter them, and cut each quarter into fourths. Heat the butter, 2 tablespoons of the natural cane sugar, and the vanilla pod (save the seeds for the batter) in a large sauté pan over medium heat until the butter has melted. Add the sliced apples and cook for 7 minutes or until they are tender but still hold their shape. The sugar should not caramelize. Let the apples cool for 15 minutes.
  3. Arrange the apples tightly on the bottom of the cake pan in a circular pattern.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the super fine brown rice flour, almond flour, potato starch, millet fl our, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, remaining cup (100 g) natural cane sugar, muscovado sugar, yogurt, olive oil, and vanilla seeds. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and whisk until the batter comes together. Pour the batter into the cake pan.
  6. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Carefully invert it onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
  7. Store in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it for up to one month.

Note: I replaced the superfine brown rice flour, almond flour, potato starch, millet flour and tapioca starch with 215 g of all-purpose flour.

Pistachio Crumble
Recipe from the Cannelle et Vanille blog


  • 100 grams unsalted butter
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 100 grams flour
  • 125 grams pistachios, chopped
  • pinch of salt


  1. Cream all ingredients together in an electric mixer. It will be crumbly. Place on a cookie sheet or in an air tight container and refrigerate over night.

I freeze the crumble in ziploc bags. Whenever I need some, I place the desired quantity on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until it starts turning golden. Let it cool then top your dessert. It’s great on fruit tarts, chocolate mousse, creamy-type desserts like panna cotta, etc. And it’s delicious with this apple cake!

You can purchase Small Plates & Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga here.

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