This vegan apple cake is wholesome and rustic. It’s wonderfully moist, full of apples, cinnamon and spice. And it has a deliciously crunchy nut streusel crumble topping. The perfect fall bake!
We love to celebrate the arrival of apple season with a big wedge of this vegan apple cake! It’s perfect for using up those wonky looking and windfall apples that you don’t want to go to waste.
The cake is not overly sweet, uses wholemeal flour and plenty of apples so it’s got a wholesome, almost healthy, feel to it. I’ve just enjoyed a slice for breakfast!
This vegan apple cake recipe is based on the first ever dairy free cake I learnt how to make from the Vegan Society, and I was amazed how easy it is to make a cake without eggs.
We've made variations of this spiced apple cake many times over the years and my favourite way is with a German inspired walnut streusel on top. This makes it almost like a cross between a cake and an apple crumble! We hope you enjoy it!
Here's what you’ll need to make the cake batter:
- Cooking apples - we usually use Bramleys. Granny smith would be a good alternative. Most of the apples are used to make applesauce, and the rest are cut into chunks to be mixed into the batter. We usually leave the peel on, but it's up to you!
- Vegetable oil - choose a neutral tasting oil such as sunflower or canola/rapeseed oil.
- Sugar - you can use caster sugar or a light brown sugar.
- Wholemeal / wholewheat flour
- Bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
- Cinnamon - because no apple cake is complete without some!
- And mixed spice - pumpkin spice is a good alternative for our US friends.
And for the streusel topping:
- Demerara sugar - it gives a great crunch to the topping
- Vegan butter
- Some more flour
- And a spoonful more cinnamon!
Step by step
You'll find the full recipe in the card at the end of the post, but here's a visual overview of how to make vegan apple cake:
Step 1 - Place the apples for the sauce in a saucepan with a splash of water. Cook on medium heat with the lid on, until soft and tender (depending on your apples this takes about 10 minutes). Puree until smooth with an immersion blender.
Step 2 - In a mixing bowl, combine the oil and the sugar, then add the applesauce and whisk in the baking soda. It will fizz up at this point.
Step 3 - Next mix in the flour and spices until you have a light, but quite thick batter.
Step 4 - Gently fold in the apple chunks, but don't overmix. Transfer into a 8 inch/20cm greased springform tin, and level out the top with a spatula.
Step 5 - For the topping, combine the finely chopped walnuts, demerara sugar, flour, cinnamon and vegan butter. I often use my fingertips for this, but you can also just give it a good mix with a spatula.
Step 6 - Cover the cake batter with the streusel topping, and gently firm it down all over the cake. Then bake in a preheated oven at 180℃ / 350℉ for 40-50 minutes.
Variations & substitutions
If you have canned sugar free applesauce you can use it instead of making your own. You’ll want around 1 ½ cups or 375g apple sauce for one cake.
We’ve found it really handy to make a big batch of applesauce and freeze it in individual portions. Simply defrost before use.
Instead of walnuts, you could use pecans, hazelnuts, almonds or other nuts. And if you want a nut free streusel topping, then try pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds instead.
For a vegan gluten free apple cake, replace the flour with a 1:1 gluten free flour blend. If the mix doesn't contain xanthum gum, then you can add 1 teaspoon to the flour to help the cake bind and hold together better.
You can simply enjoy a slice of this vegan apple cake on its own at teatime or with coffee.
But if you want to make it into more of a dessert, then it's also delicious served with some custard or some vegan vanilla ice cream.
Keep leftovers in a cake tin or other airtight container and use within three days.
You can also freeze the cake - either whole or in slices. First let it cool completely. Next, wrap it very well or place in an airtight bag and squeeze out the excess air. You can also put it a container to stop it getting squashed. The cake should keep well in the freezer for at least 3 months. Defrost the cake at room temperature.
More vegan apple recipes
We hope you like our vegan apple cake! Here at Vegan on Board we really love to make the most of apple season, so we have lots more vegan apple recipes for you! Check these ones out:
Try our French inspired Vegan Apple Tart
Have these Vegan Apple Pancakes for breakfast
Learn how to make a Vegan Apple Strudel from scratch
Or have a go at this Apple Curry!
Vegan Apple Cake
- 3 ¼ cups (400 g) cooking apples sliced for applesauce
- ¾ cup (100 g) extra apples diced
- ½ cup (100 g) caster sugar
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda baking soda
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) vegetable oil
- 1 ¾ cup (225 g) wholemeal / wholewheat flour
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp mixed spice or pumpkin spice
- Place the apples for the sauce in a saucepan with a tablespoon of water. Cook on medium heat with the lid on, until soft and tender (about 10 minutes, depending on your apples). Puree until smooth with an immersion blender.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- In a mixing bowl, combine the oil and the sugar, then add the applesauce and whisk in the baking soda. It will fizz up at this point.
- Next mix in the flour and spices until you have a light, but quite thick batter.
- Gently fold in the diced apple chunks, but don't overmix.
- Transfer the batter into a 8 inch/20cm greased springform tin, and level out the top with a spatula.
Nut streusel topping
- For the topping, combine the finely chopped walnuts, demerara sugar, flour, cinnamon and vegan butter. I often use my fingertips for this, but you can also just give it a good mix with a spatula.
- Cover the cake batter with the streusel topping, and gently firm it down all over the cake.
Baking the cake
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) for 40-50 minutes.
- To test if the cake is done, insert a cake tester, toothpick or skewer into its center. If it comes out clean, without batter stuck to it, it is done. Keep in mind that there are apple chunks, so it will retain more moisture than other cakes.
- When ready to serve, remove the cake from the tin by running a knife around the edge of the cake, release the springform, gently loosen the cake from the base and slide onto a serving plate.