Wholesome Vegan Apple Cake (Gluten-Free)

GFGluten FreeNFNut FreeSFRefined Sugar FreeVVegan

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This Wholesome Vegan Apple Cake is a hearty & cozy gluten-free cake filled with chunks of sweet, fragrant apples and warm fall spices. A rustic autumn treat!

This Vegan Apple Cake is a wholesome homemade fall treat that’s bursting with flavor! Sweet chunks of fragrant apples nestle into a dense and decadent gluten-free cake batter that is perfectly spiced. As if that wasn’t delicious enough, this moist cake is topped with thinly sliced roasted apples for that rustic ‘fresh out of grandma’s kitchen’ look 🙂 Every bite practically melts in your mouth!

slice of apple cake on plate surrounded by fresh apples

INGREDIENTS + INSPIRATION

There are many variations of the dessert, but this one is most inspired by Jewish Apple Cake – a dense, apple-studded cake of Polish origins that’s often served on the celebration of Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. This moist and cozy homemade version is similarly hearty and goes heavy on the apples, but here’s the twist: I decided to pump up the warming spices beyond the traditional addition of cinnamon, (in honor of fall 😉) plus, I made a few tweaks to make this cake 100% plant-based and gluten-free!

Ingredients for vegan apple cake in small white bowls on stone background. Clockwise text labels read spices, coconut sugar, oat flour, almond flour, baking powder, vanilla, applesauce, full-fat coconut milk, and apples

This cake is made from wholesome ingredients like oat flour, almond flour, and of course, apples. The combination of full-fat coconut milk and applesauce eliminates the need for added oil, which makes the cake a little lighter on the stomach.

HOW TO MAKE WHOLESOME VEGAN APPLE CAKE

Side-by-side photos of marinating spices apples next to a photo of apple cake in cake pan before baking

This hearty cake comes together in 3 main steps: the spices apples, the dry ingredients, and the wet ingredients. Feel free to use any variety or combination of apples you’d like here – my favorites are Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, McIntosh, and Golden Delicious. You can also replace the coconut sugar with brown sugar if you’d prefer. 

  1. Combine the diced apples, sugar, cinnamon, and salt and mix well. Set aside.
  2. Sift the oat flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and optional nutmeg and cardamom into a separate bowl (don’t skip the sifting!). Whisk everything together. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, applesauce, and vanilla until uniform, then pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Gently stir until a smooth batter forms, then fold in 3/4 of the cinnamon apples and all of their juices. 
  4. Transfer the batter into the cake pan, top evenly with the remaining apples, and bake until the cake is golden and the center is cooked. Let cool on a cooling rack, then transfer to a serving dish and top with optional powdered sugar. 

Close up photo of apple cake with slice cut out of it. A slice of the cake also rests on a gold pie server

This cozy fall cake can double as a sweet breakfast or an evening treat, which is just one more reason to love it 😉 Similar to a dense coffee cake, this is perfect with a hot cup of coffee or a steamy chai! Plus, it can be pre-sliced and frozen for up to 2 months, making it perfect for a fuss-free treat for anytime you’re craving something sweet but don’t have the time to bake a whole cake! If you opt not to freeze any slices, this apple-studded cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days. 

Close up photo of apple cake with slice cut out of it. A slice of the cake also rests on a gold pie server

If you’re looking for more apple-infused recipes, you’ll also love these Pumpkin Apple Muffins, these Baked Apple Cider Donuts, and this Salted Caramel Apple Tart!

Finally, if you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I love seeing your delicious recreations 🙂

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Wholesome Vegan Apple Cake

Vegan Apple Cake dusted with powdered sugar on white plate with stone background

This Wholesome Vegan Apple Cake is a dense & cozy gluten-free cake filled with chunks of sweet, fragrant apples and warm fall spices. A rustic autumn treat!

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 80 Minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

For the Cinnamon Apples:

  • ~6 apples, diced (I used honeycrisp and granny smith)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

For the Batter: 

  • 2 cups rolled oats, blended into a fine flour*
  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar (or sub brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Optional: powdered sugar or an icing drizzle, for serving

Instructions

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9″ cake pan and set aside. Add the diced apples, sugar, cinnamon, and salt to a large bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Dry Ingredients: Sift the oat flour, almond flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cardamom (if using), and salt into a large bowl. Sifting the flours creates a lighter cake texture, and I strongly recommend it. Whisk to combine.
  3. Wet Ingredients: Whisk the coconut milk, sugar, applesauce, and vanilla together in a smaller bowl. Once uniform, pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients and gently stir to form a smooth batter. Fold 3/4 of the cinnamon apples and all of their juices into the batter.
  4. Assemble: Transfer the apple-studded batter into the cake pan, then top evenly with the remaining apples. Bake in the center rack of the oven for 80 to 90 minutes, until the cake is golden and the center is cooked. Transfer the cake tin to a cooling rack and let cool; run a knife along the edges of the pan once cool, then transfer to a serving dish.
  5. Serve: serve as-is, or topped with a dusting of powdered sugar or an icing sugar drizzle. Leftovers will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days, or can be sliced and frozen for up to 2 months. This cake is delicious at room temperature, but can also be reheated in the toaster oven for an extra cozy bite.

Notes

  • Substitutions: Coconut sugar can be replaced with brown sugar. Full-fat coconut milk can be replaced with an extra creamy oat milk. I have not tested this recipe with any flour substitutions, so experiment at your own risk. I believe that the applesauce could be replaced with pumpkin puree, but I have not tested this myself.
  • Baking Apples: Feel free to use any apple combination you’d like here, but my favorite apples for baking are Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, McCintosh, and Golden Delicious.
  • Roughly inspired by the apple cake from Smitten Kitchen

Keywords: apple cake, healthy apple cake, breakfast apple cake, vegan apple cake, gluten free apple cake

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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Comments

  1. Seriously, that is the BEST vegan/GF cake I have ever had. I’ve made it twice now tweaking the recipe a bit but absolutely love it and will be making this many times in the future! I would also guarantee that anyone who is not vegan/GF will also find this delicious! Thank you!

  2. I find that almond flour can be pricey so I always use all purpose flour when I make it and it turns out great ! Once I put a tiny bit of almond extract since I had it to get the almond flavour, and I always make it that way since.

  3. This looks great! I want to make it this afternoon. I have a question about the coconut milk. Canned? As in what I would use in curry? Or coconut milk in the carton like almond milk? Thank you!

    1. Hi, Lynne! Used in the recipe is full-fat coconut milk. It would be up to you to use either the canned or carton option.

  4. This came out so well!!! I subbed pumpkin puree for the apple sauce and whole wheat flour for the almond flour. Thanks for the wonderful recipe, as always 🙂

    1. Loved the twist that you made for the recipe. Glad it turned out great. Thank you for the feedback, Annelise 🙂

  5. My family is eating this right now and it is delicious!! I used vanilla soymilk instead of coconut milk, I also used brown sugar instead of coconut sugar. I also lined my cake pan with parchment paper. It is choked full of apples, it’s so delicious and I don’t feel any guilt eating this treat! Thank you for the recipe 🙂

  6. Hi Caitlin, I have a question- I have oat flour so don’t need to make it but how much do I need please. Really want to make this cake as it sounds like it will be delicious! Thanks.

  7. Saw this recipe today and knew I had to make it ASAP, and I was not disappointed! It was really great

    I did make the following adjustments because it’s what I had at my house, but I will totally be making it the way the recipe calls for next time!

    – used all purpose flower
    – used steel cut oats
    – used regular vegan sugar
    – used brown sugar

    I did put coconut shreds on top to get the extra coconut flavor!

    Overall was really amazing despite not being able to follow the recipe exactly due to my impatience to have it right away!

    I know what I’ll be making for thanksgiving this year! Really easy but really great flavor!

      1. Light coconut milk contains the same ingredients as regular coconut milk; it just contains more water. Just like with regular milk, sometimes the swap will work, but sometimes it can negatively affect the overall texture of the dish.

  8. I see an asterisk after the 2 cups of oats, but don’t see its reference anywhere?? Can we just use oat flour – how much?
    Thanks