This dairy free apple crumble cake makes the best of seasonal apples, sweetened with honey and lots of shredded apples. Topped with a little naturally sweetened crumble for a perfect healthier coffee cake.
This post was originally published in September 2014. It has been updated with improvements to the recipe, photographs, and content as of November 2019.
When I first shared this recipe, it was right after my childhood home had burned – I had just finished university and was living there before I was supposed to start grad school. (Spoiler: I didn’t start.) Now that I’m going through and updating these old posts that have great recipes but hideous pictures and useless text, a lot of memories surrounding that time are resurfacing.
We were living in a short-term rental about 20 minutes from the house while it was rebuilt, and would go every day to visit Gus, the old farm dog who had a great fear of travelling in cars. When early September rolled around, I also went over and picked all of the apples to make this cake. By then, I think, everything had been ripped out and it was starting to come back together.
It was a few months before we were able to go back to the house. But, by going and picking the apples like I always had, it felt like the change that came with a house burning wasn’t as overwhelming as it could have been. And it’s funny now how I associate food with all of those memories, and how it felt as though I was holding onto home by collecting the fruit.
Apples are intrinsic to autumn, when they’re at their best, and when they vie with pumpkins for the most loved produce of the season. Much like pumpkins, though, apples are excellent almost right through winter. Unlike winter squash, they’re also available year round.
I’ve shared a healthy apple cake before, but that’s a German apple cake, with big pieces of fruit and a nutty cake base. This is a bit more subtle with the shredded apple, though both are excellent.
Apple Crumble Cake
I’ve been making a version of this apple crumble cake for as long as I can remember. It’s one of my mom’s go-to desserts, and I think I first starting messing with adding whole grain flour and reducing the sugar or butter early on. The original title of the recipe was ‘apple streusel cake’ but, you know, I wanted to adapt it more to an english-speaking audience.
The base cake is oil free, with shredded apples and nut butter adding all the moisture you’d get from oil. I’ve altered the recipe slightly to remove the applesauce and use some more milk in its place simply because I often don’t have applesauce in the house. Making it from scratch to make a cake from scratch is just too much work.
This is not vegan; there are eggs in the cake, and it suffers without them. Minus the eggs it becomes claggy, dense, and unpleasant. I have tried to sub them out but the resulting texture is bad. And it is occasionally eggs, after all, you must expect that some recipes will include eggs, right?
More crumble, please
Without the topping, this cake is fine, but not great. It’s very simple, just rolled oats, coconut sugar, whole grain flour, and coconut oil. I’ve accounted for some stealing, so feel free to sneak some bits of crumble before they make it to the cake. Because we all know that’s the best part.
The crumble becomes partly incorporated into the cake, so you end up with a moist cake that has this sort of shield of crumb topping.
Let’s talk ingredients
I like to use whole spelt flour for this cake, but the original called for whole wheat pastry flour (which I can’t find here) and both work well. You could also do sprouted spelt flour, light spelt, or all purpose. To make it gluten free, I imagine an all-purpose mix would work, but I haven’t tried. I know someone will ask!
It’s sweetened with honey, but not much, as the apples add a lot of sweetness. The topping makes up for anything else.
Otherwise, non-dairy milk, whatever kind you prefer, a couple eggs, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I usually use almond or hazelnut butter for this cake, but to make it nut-free you can use sunflower seed butter.
Which apples are best?
Well, that’s really up to you. Granny smith are often recommended but I don’t love that 1. they need to be peeled, and 2. they are sour without flavour. Use an apple you enjoy eating as is – braeburn, elstar, cox, these are all good choices.
Since the fruit is shredded, I see no point in peeling. It’s more work and doesn’t make a difference in taste. Use the large side of a box grater here, keeping the shreds bigger.
More great apple recipes:
- 250 grams / 1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- 60 ml / 1/4 cup nondairy milk
- 60 ml / 1/4 cup nut butter*
- 60 ml / 1/4 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 350 grams / 2 cups grated apple**
- 50 grams / 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 40 grams / 1/4 cup whole spelt flour
- 50 grams / 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 60 grams / 1/4 cup coconut oil
- Begin by making the crumble topping. Add the oats, flour, and coconut sugar to a medium bowl and mix to combine. Add the coconut oil and use your hands to mix until a crumbly blend forms. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F and grease a 26cm / 10in. springform pan with coconut oil.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
- In a smaller bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Add the milk, nut butter, honey, and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Add the shredded apple to the egg mixture.
- Add the apple mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Pour into the prepared springform and shake the pan gently to level the batter.
- Sprinkle the crumble topping over the cake. Bake on the centre rack for 40-45 minutes, or until golden. The edges of the cake should be pulling away from the sides of the pan when it’s finished.
- Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling fully on a rack. This cake can be eaten warm, and will keep well for up to three days at room temperature.
- Serve with yogurt or coconut whipped cream if desired.
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 261 Total Fat: 10g Saturated Fat: 6g Unsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 41mg Sodium: 199mg Carbohydrates: 38g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 16g Protein: 7g
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