Desi loves apple pie and the way he usually reminds me that he is craving one is by declaring, "I've forgotten what an apple pie tastes like."
But an apple pie -- as divine as it is -- is not always the healthiest option (fruit notwithstanding). So, some years ago, I came up with this vegan Apple Cake recipe that is all whole-wheat, tastes exquisite, and gives all of the satisfaction of pie without the guilt. I shared the recipe with you all those years back, but I've updated it for you with new photos and an optional drizzle/glaze that Jay loves, although I've made no modifications to the cake recipe itself -- it's just that perfect.
This is whole wheat cake, with very little fat added, and yet it's also supremely moist and flavorful and really, really delicious.
The apples bake into juicy little bits scattered throughout the cake, and the walnuts add pockets of nutty crunch. If you are looking for a kid-friendly snack, or an adult-friendly dessert (or breakfast), you couldn't do better.
How to bake the perfect vegan apple cake:
This is a rather easy recipe, and it's quite foolproof. But even so, here are some tips for ensuring success in your baking efforts:
- If you can't find or don't want to use whole wheat pastry flour, use a half-and-half mix of unbleached all purpose flour and whole wheat flour. You can also use all unbleached all purpose.
- Use a neutral vegetable oil, like avocado oil. Coconut and olive both have strong flavors that will linger in your cake, and you don't want to detract from the wholesome flavor of apples here.
- This cake contains a cup of sugar, but if your apples are very sweet, you can use less. You can use ¾ of a cup of sugar and add ¼ cup of applesauce to add some moisture back in. This is a useful tip for anyone who wants to cut down on sugar in a recipe. Sugar acts as a "wet" ingredient in baked goods, because when it melts it becomes liquid. When you remove sugar from a recipe, you remove moisture and your baked good can turn out dry. Applesauce provides a great option when substituting some of the sugar because it adds tenderness and moisture to a recipe. Don't overdo it, though. Replacing one-fourth of the sugar with applesauce is fine, but replacing three-fourths of it is not and is going to show in your results by making the cake so tender, it'll probably fall apart.
- I used an easy applesauce glaze on this cake, to make it prettier and to intensify the apple flavor. You don't absolutely need it, and the cake is just as delicious without it.
What is the best apple to use in the cake?
This is a question that I asked almost every time I made a recipe with apples, and you'll find reams and reams dedicated to the perfect baking apple on the internet. And while you will want to be a little more careful about the apple you choose for a pie or a tart, where your apples will be quite visible, the short answer for this cake is: don't sweat it too much.
While you don't want to use a powdery apple, like a red delicious, which will fall apart, most others will work fine here.
I keep pink ladies on hand most of the time because they are great eating and baking apples, and that's what I used this time, but Granny Smiths, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisps, Braeburns, Jonagolds all work just as well.
You don't even have to peel your apples for this recipe. But make sure you use organic apples.
Can I freeze this apple cake?
Yes, you can, if you have a will of iron and can resist polishing it off at one go. 🙂 Make sure you wrap it in cling wrap, then place it in an airtight container. Thaw completely to room temperature before serving.
You can also refrigerate for up to a week. If you make the glaze, drizzle it on right before serving because otherwise the cake will absorb all of it and become too tender.
This vegan Apple Cake is going to be one I make again and again. Enjoy, all!
Ingredients for Vegan Apple Cake:
- Whole wheat pastry flour (can sub with half whole wheat and half all purpose)
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Vegetable oil
- Ground cinnamon (can also use nutmeg and cloves)
- Pure vanilla extract
For optional glaze/drizzle:
- Confectioners' sugar
More vegan dessert recipes
Vegan Apple Cake, whole wheat
- 1 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour (sub with half regular whole-wheat and half all-purpose if you can't find whole-wheat pastry flour)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon (I sometimes use a mix of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup sugar (if you want to cut down on this, substitute a quarter of the sugar with an equal amount of applesauce)
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp flaxmeal (whisked with 6 tbsp of water to make two flax "eggs")
- 1 cup walnuts , toasted lightly and chopped
- 2 ½ cups apples (About 1 ½ apples, finely chopped. I use Pink Lady or Granny Smith, but most apples would work)
For optional applesauce vanilla drizzle:
- ½ cup applesauce
- ½ cup powdered sugar (sifted)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
- Beat together the oil, sugar and vanilla for about a minute to aerate.
- Add the flaxmeal mixture, beat for a few more seconds to mix, and then add the flour mixture.
- Stir with a spatula to get the ingredients well-mixed. The dough will be very stiff, but don't worry -- the apples will express juices as they bake. Add the apples and the walnuts and mix well.
- Pour the batter into an 8-inch oiled and floured square pan (or use a round cake pan if that's what you have). To make the cake easier to unmold, line the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and then oil and flour. (The first time I baked this cake years ago, I didn't take that extra step and unmolding this cake from the pan was a small battle.)
- Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes. Unmold and continue cooling.
Make the applesauce drizzle:
- Whisk together all of the glaze ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle over the cake just before serving. (Adding the drizzle in advance will cause it to seep into the cake, making it more moist -- it will be totally delicious, but will get too tender.)