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  • Writer's pictureMcKenna

gluten-free apple cake

Makes 1 large cake

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 45-50 minutes

You know that feeling when you make a recipe for the first time & realize that everyone is going to be taking a bite all at once, while you're sitting in the room anxiously waiting to hear their comments & analyze their facial expressions? Was that a good eyebrow raise or a concerning one? Is the silence because they're in awe or is it because they're too embarrassed to say how they really feel about it?

I'm sure someone here can relate to fearing that dreaded response. It's sorta like a job interview, especially when you create recipes for a living. The last thing you want is a complete & utter flop. Which has most certainly happened.

Thankfully, that was not this recipe.

In fact, it was a massive crowd-pleaser, gone in one sitting, & enjoyed many times since. The hints of cinnamon, ginger, & vanilla bring out the warm apple filling beautifully. The crumb topping adds a lovely crunch. And the blend of gluten-free flours created a light, flavorful crumb filled with nourishing fats & more micronutrients than your average glutenous cake.

If you don't have some of the ingredients on hand, don't worry, I provide substitutions for you below that will hopefully allow you to enjoy this cake, too! This cake is certainly more of a project, but well worth the effort (I'm biased though). If you have some time on your hands & love an apple cake, this is perfect for you.

Gluten free apple cake

apple cake considerations:

Preparing the apple mixture: The goal is to soften the apples & break them apart but not make applesauce. You're looking for a mixture of half-mashed apples that's soft to bite.

IMPORTANT: Coconut milk: You may be tempted to use coconut milk from a carton, but I would highly recommend it comes from a can. The texture is a bit thicker which lends nicely to baking. Additionally, it's important to use canned coconut milk vs coconut cream. The cream will be a little too thick, we're looking for a nice in-between. After you open the can, stir together the solids on top, with the liquid on the bottom. Once well mixed, measure out the coconut milk.

Almond flour: I loved the nutty flavor the almond flour added. However, you could also experiment with hazelnut, pecan, or even tiger nut. I wouldn't try coconut flour though as it's a bit too dense.

Sugar: So... I rarely bake with cane sugar. However, I really wanted the texture of this cake to be lighter which can be hard to create with coconut sugar. So, I used a mixture of both. Feel free to hold back the sugar by a few tablespoons, I would take from the cane sugar if you choose to do this.

Arrowroot powder: If you don't have arrowroot powder, you can substitute with potato starch no problem. Tapioca flour is a last resort option if you have it; however, keep in mind that tapioca flour can change the texture of your cake by making it a bit chewier. I love tapioca flour but since I was shooting for a lighter crumb, I went with arrowroot.

Bake time: This will depend on how runny your filling is. The first time I baked this cake, it took 50 minutes on the dot. As for the next, 45 was perfect. I recommend checking it at 45 with a knife (or toothpick). It should come out almost clean. As the cake cools, the middle will continue to cook, so, if you push the time too long, it might end up pretty dry. The top should start to look golden brown & the cake shouldn't wobble when you shake the pan.

you may like these fillings too:

Fun fact: this cake was originally a strawberry + blueberry mash-up. I was leaving for the weekend & the only fruit I had stocked up were some frozen bluebs & a few strawberries on their last leg. The result? A hit. 10/10. But I'm a lover of apple pie & had the urge to replicate the cake with a warm apple filling. If I had to pick, the apple version is the real winner here. But... I'd eat both again any day. You pick your fav.

Strawberry + blueberry

Apple + strawberry

Rhubarb + strawberry



A slice of gluten-free apple cake


measuring cups / spoons

1 very sharp knife

1 medium saucepan

2 medium bowls

1 large circular dish - about 10" diameter, 2" tall

blender / food processor, if making your oat flour




¼ c arrowroot powder

¾ c brown rice flour

c almond flour

¼ c oat flour

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ginger

½ tsp sea salt


½ c organic cane sugar

¼ c coconut sugar

½ c coconut oil, melted

½ c + 1 Tbsp coconut milk, canned, full-fat

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp lemon zest

juice of ½ lemon

apple topping:

3 medium gala apples, chopped into ½" pieces

½ apple, thinly sliced, reserved for decorating

2 Tbsp coconut sugar

1 Tbsp ghee, melted

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp cinnamon

juice of ½ lemon

pinch of sea salt

crumb topping:

⅓ brown rice flour

⅓ gluten-free rolled oats

3 Tbsp coconut sugar

3 Tbsp room-temp coconut oil

¼ tsp cinnamon

large pinch of sea salt


Preheat oven to 350F. Oil a large circular dish with coconut oil. Set aside.

Make the apple topping. Chop 3 apples into ½" chunks. Add ghee to a medium-sized saucepan & heat over medium heat. Once melted, add the apples. Toss together & soften for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the coconut sugar, sea salt, vanilla, & cinnamon & mix together. Using a fork, continue mixing & mashing the apples until soft & well broken down. This will take about 5 minutes. Once finished, turn off the stovetop & add the lemon juice. Stir together & set aside. *See note

Prepare the cake. If making your own oat flour, begin by blending 1/4 c oats into a fine flour. Skip this step if using ready-made oat flour.

In a medium bowl, add all of the dry ingredients, including the oat flour, & mix together.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs & sugar until thoroughly combined. Next, melt the coconut oil & add to the extra mixture along with all of the remaining wet ingredients. Stir together until there are no clumps remaining.

Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, mixing as you go. Stir together until there is no dry flour remaining.

Grab your baking dish & pour the batter in. Set aside.

Prepare the crumb topping. In a small dish, mix the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, & sea salt. Add the room-temp coconut oil, it should be soft & malleable, not melted. Incorporate the mixture into the coconut oil using your hands, continue until you have a crumbly consistency.

Add your toppings. Grab your baking dish & begin to top the cake with your apple mixture. Place one layer of the mashed apples on top of the batter, leaving ½ - 1 inch of cake batter uncovered around the entire edge of the dish. Take your crumb topping & do the same thing, placing it over the apples. As the cake bakes, the toppings will sink to the center of the cake & the edges will come in, covering the apple & oat mixture.

Decorate the top. Though not required, this step is a nice touch. Slice the remaining 1/2 apple as thin as possible. Arrange however you'd like across the top of the cake, tucking one end into the cake batter to hold them in place. If you're looking for inspiration, I like to stack 4-5 slices together then fan them out & place on top. Repeating this 3-4 times.

Finally, place in the oven to bake for 50 minutes. Check on the cake at 45 minutes, take it out of the oven when the toothpick (or knife) comes out just barely clean. *See note

I hope you love this cake as much as I do. If you make it, send me a picture or tag me on Instagram, I'd love to see your creations!

xo, Kenn


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