This vegan apple cake is a great way to use seasonal apples. It consists of a simple vegan vanilla cake recipe with fresh apple slices baked into the surface.

Similar to German sunken apple cake (classic Versunken Apfelkuchen) but without eggs or dairy. The apples are arranged on top of the cake which bakes around them, leaving beautiful apple slices peeking out of the surface!

You can use green or red apples, depending on what you have to hand, or a combination of both like I did. Perfect served with a big dollop of vegan whipped cream or custard, or a scoop of non-dairy vanilla ice cream.

apple cake with 2 scoops of ice cream on top on a ceramic plate with milk bottles and apples in the background.Pin
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🔪 What To Expect From This Recipe

  • Easy to make. With just 20 minutes of prep time, and 10 ingredients.
  • Perfect for fall. Or any time apples are in season! I reckon this cake would make an excellent centerpiece for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even a fall twist on Birthday cake!
  • Fluffy and light. With a delicate crumb, this cake isn't heavy or soggy like some apple desserts can tend to be.
  • Allergy-friendly. As well as being eggless and dairy-free, this apple cake is made without nuts.

📝 Ingredients Needed

Here's everything you need to make this simple vegan apple cake recipe from scratch:

ingredients to make vegan apple cake measured out in bowls.Pin

Notes about the ingredients

  • Fresh apples. You can pretty much use any firm eating apples. Pink lady or Braeburn apples are sweet, whereas Granny Smiths add acidity. If you're not a fan of apple skins, you can peel them - but I love the color they give to the finished cake.
  • Vegan buttermilk. This reacts with baking powder and helps the cake to rise and gives it a tender crumb.
  • Vegan butter. Whenever I make vanilla-based cakes, I tend to go for butter instead of oil. Oil lacks the structure that vegan butter provides when at room temperature. This recipe calls for vegan block butter, and not margarine from a tub as this has higher water content.
  • Vegan yogurt. Like in my vegan vanilla cupcake recipe, plant-based yogurt adds a slightly tangy flavor from the acidity. It also adds moisture to eggless cake recipes. My favorite is vegan Greek-style yogurt, but soy or coconut yogurt also works.
  • Granulated sugar. I use golden granulated here as it has a slightly caramelized flavor, but regular sugar works too.
  • Vanilla extract. As this is the main flavor for the base of the cake, try to get a good quality vanilla extract such as Neilsen Massey pure vanilla extract or Taylor and Colledge vanilla bean extract, if you can! 

🥣 How To Make Vegan Apple Cake

(1) Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or large mixing bowl, until light and fluffy.
(2) Add in vegan yogurt and vanilla extract and whisk again to combine.
(3) Switch to a regular whisk or paddle attachment on your stand mixer, and alternate between adding the buttermilk and dry ingredients in 2 increments.
(4) Whisk to combine the ingredients, be careful not to overmix the batter.

mixing cake batter in a clear bowl with a whisk, with red apples scattered around the bowl.Pin

(5) Transfer the batter into the prepared cake pan, and smooth out the top with a spatula.
(6) Arrange the apple slices on top of the cake, and press them into the surface of the cake batter.
(7) Bake the cake until golden brown, and transfer to a wire rack until completely cool.
(8) Dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar before serving.

unbaked apple cake in a cake pan with apple slices on top, and baked apple cake on a wire rack with powdered sugar on top.Pin

👩‍🍳 Recipe Success Tips

  • Measure the recipe in grams. Using a kitchen scale will always give you the best results. Cups tend to be inaccurate, which can lead to problems when baking as it is truly a science! If you must use measuring with cups, follow the scoop and sweep method.
  • Don't overmix the batter. Whisk the ingredients together until just combined. Overmixing the batter can lead to a chewy or gummy mouth feel as it activates the gluten proteins (ref: Food52). The goal is to have a light and fluffy cake, so don't be tempted to over-whisk.
  • Prepare the apples at the last minute. To prevent the apples from discoloring, make sure you prepare most of the other elements before slicing them. The cake batter should not be left sitting around before baking, however. So get your buttermilk, wet ingredients, and dry ingredients ready, followed by the apples, and then mix the cake batter.
  • If you like you could take this vegan apple tea cake to the next level by adding a crumble topping, like in my pumpkin muffins.

💬 Frequently Asked Questions

How long can you keep vegan apple cake?

It will last for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

Does apple cake need to be refrigerated?

Yes, unless you plan on eating it within the first 24 hours, the cake needs to be refrigerated.

Take it out of the fridge an hour or two before serving so it comes back to room temperature, otherwise, the crumb may appear a little denser when chilled.

Can you freeze apple cake?

Yes, apple cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap it well in parchment paper before freezing, then thaw in the fridge overnight before serving.

slice of cake with apple topping on a plate with a fork next to it, and red apples scattered around.Pin

🍎 More Apple Recipes

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Easy Vegan Apple Cake

5 from 6 votes
PREP TIME: 20 mins
COOK TIME: 40 mins
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr
Servings: 8
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Description

This easy vegan apple cake is reminiscent of German apple cake. With a fluffy vanilla sponge and seasonal apples baked into the batter. It's the perfect tea cake for fall.

Ingredients

  • 236 ml (1 cup) soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) vegan butter, room temperature *see notes
  • 170 g ( cup) golden granulated sugar, or granulated sugar
  • 85 g (3 oz) vegan Greek-style yogurt, or soy/coconut yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 250 g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 ½ apples, I use a mix of Granny Smith and Braeburn, *see notes
  • 2 tablespoons organic powdered sugar , (confectioner's sugar), optional
  • optional garnishes, vegan vanilla ice cream, custard, or whipped cream

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 175°C (347°F). Line the base of a 9" cake tin with parchment paper. Lightly grease the sides with some oil or vegan butter, and dust the sides with flour until lightly coated.
  • Prepare the ingredients: To make the vegan "buttermilk" add the soy milk and apple cider vinegar to a medium bowl or jug, stir and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  • Add the butter and sugar to a stand mixer or large mixing bowl and cream them together with an electric mixer for 4-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add in yogurt and vanilla and mix again to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Prepare the apples: Wash, peel, and remove the cores from the apples. Quarter them, then slice each quarter thinly, keeping the slices intact to create a fan shape.
  • Make the batter: Switch to a regular whisk or paddle attachment on your stand mixer, and add the buttermilk and dry ingredients to the creamed butter in 2 increments. Whisk to combine between each one, being careful not to overmix the batter.
  • Assemble: Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the top of it with a spatula (expect the batter to be pretty thick). Press the apple slices into the surface of the batter.
  • Bake: Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown. Check the cake is done by piercing it with a toothpick or a knife, the knife should come out clean.
    Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 15-20 minutes. Then carefully remove the tin, and transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely for another 10-15 minutes. 
  • Serving: Dust with powdered sugar and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some vegan whipped cream.
  • Storage: This cake is best served at room temperature to ensure it keeps its fluffy consistency. If you don't plan on eating it on the day it's baked, seal it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Then remove the cake from the fridge about 1-2 hours before serving to bring it back to room temperature.

Notes

  • Measure the recipe in grams. Using a kitchen scale will always give you the best results. If you must use measuring with cups, follow the scoop and sweep method.
  • Vegan butter: Take this out of the fridge to sit at room temperature for 30 mins to 1 hour. Make sure you use vegan block butter NOT spreadable butter from a tub. I use flora plant butter which is nut-free, coconut-free, and gluten-free.
  • Some white sugar in the US is not vegan, if in doubt use organic sugar.
  • Apples: If you're not a fan of apple skins, you can peel them - but I love the color they give to the finished cake.
  • If you like you can add a crumble topping, like in my pumpkin muffins.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 334kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 375mg | Potassium: 171mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 636IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 138mg | Iron: 2mg
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