This moist and delicious Vegan Apple Cake tastes like fall and is just as easy to make as box cake mix. A healthier version of what Bubbe used to make, this cake is sweet, soft, and a tiny bit crunchy when you get a little pop of baked apple!
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Hey Internet, as our next celebration of Jewish Week, here’s a delicious Jewish apple cake! What, didn’t know apple cake was Jewish?
Apples are a very common recipe ingredient in Ashkenazi Jewish cooking. If you didn’t know, Ashkenazi and Sephardic are different types of Jews, and you’re usually one or the other (or something else in some cases!). Fun fact: I hail from both Ashkenazi AND Sephardic heritage--that’s what you get with a very blended family!
But anyway, apples are a big part of fall, and there’s a mighty big Jewish holiday that happens in fall and I’m not talking about Chanukah.
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year. Jews follow the Hebrew calendar, which is a lunisolar calendar in sync with the natural cycles of the moon and sun. It’s not necessarily accurate, but it is traditional, and Jews thrive on tradition (Fiddler on the Roof, anyone?).
We eat apples and honey (ahem, agave or maple syrup) on Rosh Hashanah to celebrate a sweet new year. Many Jews bake with apples, and one of the most common holiday dishes is apple cake!
Jewish apple cake often uses orange juice and/or oil to avoid using butter or milk so it remains dairy-free and therefore kosher so it’s perfect for Rosh Hashanah. Of course, this is a moot point for vegans (only very strict kosher laws apply to vegans, so many vegan Jews can keep kosher without too much effort).
This sweet, delicious, and moist (sorry) cake is INSANELY easy to make and so tasty.
Crisp, sweet apples are sliced up (or you can shred them) and thrown right into the batter. The batter also features orange juice, lemon juice, CINNAMON, and coconut sugar, all which make the flavors of the apple pop.
Traditional Jewish apple cake contains a lot of oil, but I’ve gone ahead and replaced all of it with unsweetened applesauce for a lower fat dessert with LOTS of delicious apple flavor.
Alright enough schmoozing (yes this is the Yiddish word for chatting!), let’s nosh (eat)!
What You’ll Need
We’ll start with flour, as most baked goods do. This recipe calls for regular unbleached all purpose flour. Please see the substitutions section if you’d like to sub out the flour.
For wet ingredients, you’ll need some unsweetened apple sauce (this adds so much to the apple flavor and it’s WAY healthier than oil!), orange juice (fresh squeezed preferred), a little lemon juice (optional but so delicious).
Oh and you’ll also need a binder--I recommend flax eggs, which are just made by mixing one part ground flaxseed with 3 parts water and letting it sit in the fridge for a few minutes. Flax is also really good for you but you won’t taste it in this recipe.
Last but certainly not least, let’s discuss the apples, the star of the show.
What Apples are Best for Apple Cake?
For apples, you have a couple options. I mentioned above you can use whatever type of apples you like, but I’d use a flavor that you like, as it will determine the final taste of the cake.
Love honeycrisp? Use those. Prefer a more sour apple like granny smith? Go for it.
I used Pinata apples because they’re big and sweet like honeycrisp but without the big price tag.
Should you peel apples for apple cake? You can, but I didn’t. There’s lots of great apple flavor and nutrition in those peels.
How should you cut apples for apple cake? You can either shred your apples or cut them into small pieces.
Shredding or grating your apples result in a general apple flavor of the cake, with no real apple texture. If you like that, go ahead!
I prefer to cut my apples into thin but noticeable pieces. I simply cut my apple into half inch thick slices, and cut those in very thin slices down each wedge. They’ll get soft enough to eat without crunching during the baking process, but it will still be a lot of that delicious apple flavor.
What Substitutions Can I Make?
As mentioned above, this recipe calls for unbleached all purpose flour. If you’d like to use whole wheat or spelt flour, those should work. If the batter gets too thick to stir, try adding a little bit more orange juice or applesauce.
Oat flour will also work as I’ve used it in similar recipes like carrot cake and banana bread with great results. If using a flour alternative like oat flour, I recommend increasing the baking powder, as sometimes denser batters have a hard time rising.
I just really like coconut sugar. It’s warm and sweet--think cinnamon and brown sugar together in a bag!
But you can also just use regular cane sugar, but as it’s sweeter than coconut sugar, I’d use 25-50% less. (This recipe works fine with less sugar, I’ve tested it.)
Brown sugar should also work but it’s a bit wetter so you may need to add a pinch more flour to get the super thick batter.
Applesauce is generally a great oil replacement in baking. In this recipe it’s great because it enhances the apple flavor.
If you’d like to replace the applesauce, you could use: canned pumpkin (this would be like a fall explosion in your mouth!) or half the amount of coconut cream (as it’s kind of heavy).
Flax eggs, made from ground flaxseed and water, are a very common vegan baking ingredient. After sitting for a bit, the ground seeds bind with the water as a gel, and will help any baked good bind well together.
You can use any vegan binder in this recipe, though, such as chia eggs (again, grind your seeds first) or a commercial egg replacer like Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer.
How to Properly Measure Flour
We want to measure our flour by weight, not by volume. When you scoop flour out of a bag or tin with a measuring cup, you're packing it in there and not necessarily getting the same amount each time.
What's better is to use a food scale with a tare function (allowing you to zero out the scale after you've put the bowl on it so your bowl isn't playing a factor in your equation.
Working in grams, put your bowl on the scale and zero it out. Scoop the flour into the bowl until you reach the desired measurement.
How to Make Vegan Apple Cake
Just because it doesn’t come in a box doesn’t mean this cake can’t be ridiculously easy to make. I was so nervous to make this and after the first time I tested it, I was thrilled with how simple it was.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). We’ll cook this bad boy low and slow, which will really contribute to those delicious baked apple flavors.
Start your flax eggs now by mixing the ground flaxseed with the water in a small bowl or cup and throw them in the refrigerator to gel quickly.
Mix your dry ingredients in a large bowl and set them aside.
Either shred or slice your apples now and add them to a medium bowl. I used a measuring bowl to make sure I had about 4 cups of apple pieces.
To the apples, add the wet ingredients and stir. Don’t forget the flax eggs in the fridge… I speak from experience. :/
Now create a well in the center of your dry ingredients and add in the apple mixture. Stir well until you have thick, apple-y batter.
Prepare your pan--I used a bundt pan but a 9x13, deep square dish, or 2 8-inch round pans will all work--with either coconut cream or cooking spray. I prefer to avoid oil, so I just used my fingers to grease the inside of my pan with coconut cream.
Note: if using a bundt pan, make sure to grease the center wall and the bottom as well as the outer inside wall.
Scoop your batter into the pan using a spatula or spoon. Try to keep things even.
If using a bundt pan, as you scoop each layer in, smoosh it down into the grooves with your spatula or the back of your spoon. Since this isn’t a runny batter, we want to make sure it conforms to the shape of our pan.
Stick the cake in the oven and that’s it!
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour for a bundt pan. If using a wider, lower pan like a 9x13, I’d check it after 30 minutes by inserting a toothpick in the center.
When it comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs, it’s done.
Removing the Cake from the Pan
Let the cake cool for only 20 minutes before removing it from the pan. I use a butter knife to separate the cake from the walls of the pan if anything stuck a little.
I like to use the flip technique. Put a large plate upside down over the pan. Firmly grasp the top and bottom and flip it in one smooth motion.
If you used a square or rectangular dish, you can use a wire baking rack for this part.
Serving Apple Cake
I like to serve my apple cake with caramelized apple slices. You can arrange them on top or serve them on the side.
To make the caramelized apple slices: peel 1-2 apples and slice them very thinly. Toss them in a medium skillet preheated over medium heat.
Add the juice of a lemon, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a few tablespoons of coconut sugar (or whatever sugar you used for the cake). Mix them well and let them cook for 2 minutes.
If they look a little dry, add a tablespoon or two of water. Cook them for about 5-8 minutes total, depending on how soft and caramelized you want them.
I also will say that this apple cake would be DELICIOUS with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream--or on the healthier side, a scoop of vegan vanilla nice cream, made from frozen bananas, non-dairy milk, and a dash of vanilla extract.
More Delicious Vegan Desserts
I may be more of a savory gal but I sure do like my desserts too. It helps having a husband with a major sweet tooth, too. ;)
Here are some awesome vegan desserts you may not have seen from me yet!
Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal - OK this one might be more of a breakfast but it tastes good enough for dessert! I figured I’d throw it in since you probably like apples if you’re here
- Coconut Cake
- Banana Bread
- Carrot Cake
- Matcha Pound Cake
- Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies (no chill)
- Coconut Almond Butter Cookies (no chill)
I really hope you like this recipe! I know I do and so does Mr. Zardyplants, who was happy to eat up all the extra cake we had from testing.
This vegan apple cake is:
- Supremely Moist
- Super Fall-y
- Actually pretty healthy
- And really easy to make!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!