Gluten-Free & Vegan Spice Apple Coffee Cake
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Spiced Fall Recipe for Apple Cake (vegan & Gluten-Free)

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Vegan & Gluten-free Spiced apple coffee cake

This has to be the best Recipe for Apple Cake that I have ever had. If you are looking for a good gluten-free and vegan apple cake recipe, look no further. It makes for a delicious fall staple to be enjoyed as a snack at any time of the day. Enjoy with tea or coffee as a snack or if you prefer as a dessert with the icing. The icing glaze transforms this delicious snack into a decadent dessert.

Vegan & Gluten-free Spiced apple coffee cake

Why make a Recipe for Apple Cake that is spiced for fall?

Something about craving those fall spices when the weather starts to turn colder. I always questioned why we would crave these sweet spiced treats in the fall. Is it tradition, or is there something that’s deeper ingrained from a nutritional standpoint… or maybe even a bit of both? Regardless of the reason we all seem to crave these sweet spiced treats, they are so deliciously satisfying. September and October seem to be those key months for me but I often enjoy them well into the winter months. 

What’s best about this recipe is that it can easily be packed up for a lunch at the office or even dressed up for a fancier dinner with friends. 

This Vegan Spiced Apple Coffee cake is:

• Sweet
• Spicy
• Tart
• Moist
• Seasonal
• Versatile enough as a snack or dessert

What goes into this Fall Spiced Recipe for Apple Cake?

Picking the right apples is more important than you would think for this recipe. The wrong apples will change the taste and texture of the cake. I chose granny smith apples this time because I like tart apples in my spiced apple cake but you could use any type of stewing apples for this recipe depending on how sweet or tart you would like it. I would however stay away from apples that are too soft because they will just disintegrate once you bake them.

Here is a list of apples that keep composure when baked that could also work well in this recipe:

  • •        King
  • •        Braeburn
  • •        Honey Crisp
  • •        Cortland
  • •        Pink Lady

What makes this apple cake gluten-free?

It has been a bit of an uphill battle when it comes to finding the right gluten-free flour for the right recipe. So choosing the right flour is going to be key in making this apple cake gluten-free. Since I baked this apple cake gluten-free AND vegan, it adds an extra layer of difficulty. If you have never baked both gluten-free and vegan I would suggest following the steps as instructed. 

My flour of choice for this recipe was the Robin Hood brand of gluten-free flour. It has the best combination of flours that create the fluffiness that is much needed when baking without eggs. If you are not making this apple cake vegan and decided to bake it with eggs (see link here), your choice of flours won’t be as important. 

What makes this apple cake vegan?

Baking is like chemistry. It is a delicate balance between all the ingredients for the right chemistry to happen and get the perfect rise to density in your cake. The traditional recipe for apple cake typically has eggs in it, which are so important for the rise of this cake. Since this apple cake is vegan, it has no eggs so there needs to be an appropriate replacement for the chemistry to happen. In this case, flaxseed worked really well and has the added benefit of extra healthy fiber.  

Vegan & Gluten-free Spiced apple coffee cake


  • Walnuts finely chopped
  • Brown sugar
  • Coconut oil or vegan butter melted
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Plant-based milk of choice
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Granulated sugar
  • Flax seed
  • all-purpose gluten-free flour (Robin Hood brand if possible)
  • Ground cinnamon power
  • Ginger powder
  • Clove powder
  • Cardamom
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Granny smith apples
  • Powdered sugar


8×8″ baking tin

How to make this apple cake recipe

The recipe is so easy to make. Start by preheating the oven to 350˚F (175˚C) and greasing your 8×8” tin and/or lining it with parchment paper. I like to do both because parchment paper really makes for easy removal from the tin and slicing without destroying this beautiful cake. Just leave two little tabs on each side for easy removal.

Making the crumble topping

Start by making the crumble. Mix all of your crumble ingredients into a medium-sized bowl and thoroughly mix until you have a nice crumbly mixture (see image below). If you like coconut oil, I would highly suggest using that because once it cools, it really makes for a nice crunchy crumble on top. I wouldn’t recommend using margarine mainly cause when it cools, it won’t give that same hardened texture that the coconut oil will provide you. If you don’t like the taste of coconut oil, then I would suggest using a vegan butter that is appropriate for baking like Miyokos or one that hardens well in the fridge.

Making the Batter

Next, would be to work on your batter. Mix wet ingredients together in a bowl; grapeseed oil, vanilla extract, milk of choice, and apple cider vinegar. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients; sugar, baking soda, baking powder, flaxseed, gluten-free flour, spices, and salt. Mix till well combined and create a well in the center of your dry ingredients. Pour in wet ingredients and mix till well incorporated and there are no more clumps.

Depending on the brand of flour that you used, the thickness of the batter will vary. The density should be just barely pourable. If it is too liquid, add in more flour, or if it is too dense to pour, add in a little more milk. Stir in the apples.

Cake Assembly

Pour your batter into the 8×8” tin and scrap the sides off with a spatula. Next, pour in your crumble topping and try to spread it evenly over the top. Pop it into the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes testing it at the 45-minute mark because baking times will vary. Once a toothpick comes out dry, your cake is done.

Making the Icing

While the cake is baking, if you decide you want to make it with the icing glaze, now would be the time. It’s quite simple, take a cup of sifted icing sugar, because there is nothing worse than lumpy icing, and add a tablespoon at a time of your milk of choice, mixing it in between with a whisk till it is well incorporated. Depending on how thick you would like it, I would suggest 3 tablespoons, which is just thick enough to pour.

Baking the spiced apple cake

Once your cake is ready, let it cool off for at least 15 minutes. Then, take it out of the pan by pulling out the tabs of the parchment paper and onto a cooling rack. If using the icing, drizzle on as much icing as you would like and cut into 9 even squares. Enjoy hot or cold for about 3 days.

Alternatives and Replacements

How to make apple cake recipe with eggs

If you are not vegan, you can make this cake with eggs and get fluffier apple cake. Replace the flaxseed with 2 eggs.

Making an Apple cake caramel sauce as an alternative to icing

For this recipe, I had chosen to simply make it with icing because let’s face it, who doesn’t love icing on top of an apple cake. However, a caramel sauce could potentially be even better. I didn’t think of it at the time of making this recipe but after the fact, caramel and apples go so well together, why not make this as an alternative to the icing. 

I had originally made this apple cake caramel sauce for a spiced loaf that I had made last year, which inspired this recipe. Made with dates, this apple cake caramel sauce is probably the healthiest version you could possibly make. 

Making this Apple cake with Olive Oil

Grapeseed oil is probably the best oil that you could use for this cake mainly because it is such neutral-tasting oil. However, it isn’t always available or you might not have it lying around. Alternatively, you could always make this apple cake with olive oil. Simply replace the grapeseed oil 1:1 with the olive oil.  

Making it with Almond flour and refined sugar-free

This is a nice alternative for those who are looking for a lower carb version of the same recipe. Quite a few people had requested it and someone came back to me to excited about how delicious it was telling me that the recipe worked really well, so, I’m going to include it :-). Simply replace the regular flour with 3/4 cup of almond flour and add an extra 1/4 cup of tapioca starch. You could also replace the sugar with coconut sugar making it a lower-sugar option and refined sugar free.

Spiced apple coffee cake
Spiced Apple Coffee Cake

Spiced Fall Recipe for Apple Cake (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

This Fall Spiced Recipe for Apple Cake makes for a delicious fall staple to be enjoyed as a snack at any time of the day.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 9
Calories 472kcal
Author Happy as a Yam Recipes


  • 8×8" baking tin


Walnut Crumble for topping:

  • ¼ cup Gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup walnuts finely chopped
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup coconut oil or vegan butter melted
  • cup granny smith apples cubed

Wet ingredients:

  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 ¼ cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Dry ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp of flax seed
  • 2 cups of all-purpose gluten-free flour My go to is the Robin Hood brand
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon power
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • ¼ tsp clove powder
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granny smith apples peeled and chopped into small cubes

Icing glaze

  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp plant-based milk


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 8×8 in. baking pan or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Mix all of the ingredients for the Walnut Crumble together in a medium bowl and set aside. Don’t overmix.
  • In a small bowl, add wet ingredients and whisk until well combined.
  • In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients until well combined.
  • Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients. Using a stand mixer or by using a fork, combine until well-incorporated. Stir in chopped apples.
  • Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking pan. Top with walnut crumble and spread evenly.
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on it. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • In a medium bowl, mix in the icing sugar and plant-based milk and mix until you have a uniform mixture. Set aside.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to slightly cool for at least 15 minutes before drizzling icing sugar on top. Slice and serve.


*Alternatively you could make this with almond flour. Simply add 3/4 cup of almond flour and  1/4 cup tapioca. 
**For a refined sugar-free option, replace with coconut sugar.

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  1. Hi Katia – whilst I am not vegan I really like the look of this cake and love apple cake too. I am inclined to make as is but do you think this would adapt to me using eggs instead of chia seeds? If so how many eggs do you think would be good?
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Sandra, I’m so glade you would like to try this. I think this recipe would work well with eggs too. I would use 2 eggs for this. Let me know how it works out, I might include it as an alternative.

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve recently needed to go gluten-free and have missed homemade baked goodies, but this looks like a perfect recipe to get started up with them again. It looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it.

    1. Hi Jay,
      You could also use any all-purpose gluten-free flour. I used the Kinnikinick but I found that one a little denser that what I would have liked it but it was still very delicious and I am extremely picky when it comes to these things and you might totally disagree. But, if I were to make it again, I would probably choose rice flour instead because the added starches in the kinnikinnick gives it a lot of denseness. I would stay away from bob’s red mill 1 to 1 for this because that one is notoriously dense and more for yeast based doughs. Hope this helps!

  3. 5 stars
    Just wanted to say that I have made this a few times now and it is amazing! I am not so great at baking but this cake turns out good for me every time. It’s now a family favourite!

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