Vegan Apple Cake with Caramel Topping
This vegan apple cake with caramel glaze is fluffy, moist and full of warm cinnamon apple flavor. It’s also easy to make in one bowl and ready to enjoy in just 1 hour.
About this Cake
This simple vegan apple cake with caramel glaze has a soft, spongy texture somewhere between a coffee cake and bundt cake and wonderfully moist and tender while remaining eggless and oil-free.
Enjoy this lovely cake with friends and family, bring it along to a brunch get-together or serve it as part of a holiday meal.
It goes well with coffee and tea or served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a special treat.
It’s an easy vegan cake that’s sure to be a new go-to for any occasion, especially during apple season.
- Light Brown Sugar: Light brown sugar works best in this cake for flavour and moisture though you could substitute white sugar or organic cane sugar if needed. You’ll also need brown sugar to make the caramel glaze.
- Applesauce: Unsweetened applesauce is recommended since there’s already quite a lot of sugar in the cake.
- Milk: Any dairy-free milk is suitable. Unsweetened almond milk is recommended but you can use cashew milk, oat milk, soy milk or almond milk.
- Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract or artificial vanilla both work.
- Flour: This recipe is for all-purpose flour. You should be able to substitute a 1:1 baking gluten-free flour though I haven’t tested it.
- Spices: The recipe calls for cinnamon and ground cloves. You could substitute 2 tsp apple pie spice if you like.
- Leavening: You’ll need both baking powder and baking soda for this cake.
- Apples: You can use any variety of apple. I like envy, Fuji, pink lady, Honeycrisp, ambrosia, Braeburn or gala. You can use Granny Smith apples if you like. The apples will soften in the cake once cooked so it doesn’t matter if it’s a soft or crunchy variety.
- Coconut Cream: This is used to make the optional caramel glaze for the cake. Good quality thick coconut milk would also work.
Please scroll down the page to find the complete recipe card with ingredient measurements.
Variations & Serving
- Skip the glaze and serve with a smear of slow cooker apple butter, berry chia seed jam or coconut butter.
- Date paste (just dates) or date caramel (dates, almond butter and a bit of milk) would make a good option for a sugar-free “frosting”.
- Try this cashew cream cheese frosting or vegan cream cheese frosting instead of caramel.
- For apple walnut cake, add up to 1/2 cup chopped walnuts when you add the apples. Pecans or raisins would also work nicely.
- For another alternative to the glaze, sprinkle the cake with granulated sugar like demarera sugar, turbinado sugar or coconut sugar before baking. You could add some cinnamon to the sugar for a yummy cinnamon sugar topping.
- A dusting of powdered sugar would also work as an alternative to the caramel glaze.
- For a more Italian-inspired apple cake, omit the cinnamon and cloves.
- Serve warm with or without the caramel glaze with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Prepare for making your cake by preheating the oven to 350 F and rubbing an 8×8-inch baking dish with oil or parchment paper. You can also use a 8 to 9-inch springform pan.
Coconut oil, avocado oil or olive oil works or you can use a light coating of non-stick cooking spray.
Step 1: Combine the applesauce and light brown sugar using a spatula, spoon or handheld electric mixture in a large bowl.
Step 2: Add plant milk and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
Step 3: Add flour, spices and leavening agents. Carefully mix the dry ingredients up to help distribute the baking powder and baking soda before mixing everything together, then fold them into the wet ingredients until just combined.
Step 4: Add the diced apple to the batter and gently fold to combine. You can use diced apple or grated apple, peeled or unpeeled. I did not peel the apple for this recipe. If you’d like to add something like crushed walnuts or raisins, add them now as well.
Step 5: Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking dish and shake or gently spread until it’s more or less in an even layer in the dish.
Step 6: Bake your apple cake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. When it’s done it should be firm, have risen nicely and be light golden brown in colour. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes in the pan.
Step 7: Whisk together the sugar and coconut cream then bring to a light boil over medium-low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between intervals.The caramel will be a bit runny at first but will thicken as it cools over the cake.
Step 8: BPour the glaze over the cake. You can create a number of holes in the top of the cake with a toothpick if you’d like some of the glaze to seep into the cake.
That’s it! Slice and serve your cake right away while it’s still warm or let it cool at room temperature until the glaze is thicker.
Baking time will depend on your oven size and temperature, pan size and the exact ingredients, so your cake make take more or less than the suggested 40 minutes to bake.
The best way to check for doneness is with a clean toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out wet with batter on it, bake the cake for a few more minutes and check again.
You can check the cake at 35 minutes if you think it may be done but avoid opening the oven before that.
Yes. You can freeze apple cake just make sure it’s completely cool before storing. Wrap the whole cake tightly in plastic wrap or foil or freeze individual slices in a freeze bag or sealed container.
Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature or in the fridge before serving.
You can use an 8-inch square pan, 8-9-inch deep pie tin, bundt cake pan or springform pan.
You should be able to use a 1:1 gluten-free baking flour blend but I haven’t tested it so I can’t guarantee results.
Any variety of apple works in this cake so I’d suggest any kind you prefer! Some of my favourites are gala, honey crisp, Fuji, envy and ambrosia.
For more tartness, you can use Granny Smith or any other tart green apple. A mixture of apples also works for more depth of flavour.
To store leftover cake, let it cool completely then wrap the whole pan tightly with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container. Store for up to 4 days at room temperature or in the fridge for up to 6 days. Just note the glaze will harden if stored in the fridge.
- Don’t over mix. Because the cake contains gluten, over mixing the batter will result in a dense, gummy cake. For a light and fluffy cake, stop mixing as soon as the flour is incorporated, no more.
- Be prepared. Be sure to preheat your oven and prepare the pans before you start. It’s important to get the cake into the oven as quickly after mixing the batter as you can to take advantage of the leavening power of the baking powder and baking soda.
- Measuring. Baking is a science so I always recommend using a digital scale to measure your ingredients for best results. This is the best way to ensure accuracy and therefore, success!
- Substitutions. It’s best to follow the recipe and not make substitutions unless you’re an experienced and confident baker. If you have specific questions about substitutions, please ask in the comment section and I’ll try to help the best I can.
- Use active leavening ingredients. Always store your baking powder and baking soda in a cool, dry place with their lids properly closed and make sure they’re not expired. We need them to be active to help the cake rise properly.
More Vegan Baking
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Scroll down to the comment section to leave a star rating and review.
The perfect cake for a fall dessert! This delicious vegan apple cake features plenty of warm cinnamon flavour and soft bites of apple throughout.
For the Apple Cake
- 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed (150 g)
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce (118 g)
- 1 cup almond milk (150 g)
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups white flour (400 g)
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3 large apples, diced (about 2 ½ cups, 350 g)
For the Caramel
- 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed (150 g)
- ¾ cup coconut cream (130 g)
- Prepare: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and rub down an 8×8 inch baking dish or 8-9-inch cake pan with coconut oil or spray with cooking spray.
- Mix Sugar and Applesauce: In a large mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar and applesauce. Stir the ingredients together until homogenous.
- Add Milk and Vanilla: Whisk in the almond milk and vanilla until the batter is runny and free of any clumps.
- Add Dry Ingredients: Gently whisk in the flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and baking powder until no clumps of dry ingredients remain in the mixture.
- Fold in Apples: Gently fold the apple chunks into the batter until they are evenly distributed.
- Bake: Pour the batter into the baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick can be cleanly removed from the center of the dish. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes.
- Prepare Glaze: Make the glaze by whisking together the brown sugar and coconut cream. Whisk together the brown sugar and coconut cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat the mixture in 30-second intervals in the microwave until the caramel begins to bubble or on the stovetop by constantly stirring over medium-low heat until the mixture begins to bubble. The glaze will initially be a little runny but will thicken as it cools.
- Glaze Cake: Pour the caramel glaze over the still-warm cake, serve, and enjoy!
Please see the Ingredients Notes section in the post for any possible substitutions. If I haven’t listed a substitution, it’s because I haven’t tested it and can’t guarantee results. If you’re confident with baking substitutions you can certainly make them, I just can’t guarantee how it will turn out.
Let the cake cook completely before storing. Store at room temperature wrapped in the pan or in a container for up to 4 days or in the fridge for up to 6 days. Note the caramel will harden if stored in the fridge. See the post above for freezing instructions.
Nutrition facts for the cake without the glaze, per square, are as follows: 302 calories, 1 g F/69 g C/5 g P.
- Serving Size: 1 square with glaze
- Calories: 414
- Sodium: 195 mg
- Fat: 5 g
- Carbohydrates: 88 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Protein: 6 g
Keywords: vegan apple cake, vegan apple spice cake