The Best Gluten-Free Apple Cake

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This Gluten-Free Apple Cake is studded with caramelised cinnamon apple chunks for a comforting homely bake. It’s an absolute family favourite and easy to make with whatever gluten-free flour you have to hand. Plus, no xanthan gum!

cut apple cake on a cooling rack next to a knife

We all need some great foolproof cakes up our sleeve for every day occasions. The kind of simple cake that we can turn to for Sunday tea, mid-morning with the mums, an after-school snack or a delicious dessert with lashings of custard. This Gluten-Free Apple Cake fits that bill and as long as you have apples to hand and the baking basics you can whip it up in no time.

Apple cake on a cooling rack next to a knife and a sifter of icing sugar

Why is this recipe so brilliant?

  • The secret of this recipe is that the chunks of apple have been caramelised with buttery cinnamon prior to baking. Oh my gosh – these mini apple nuggets are gorgeous bursts of treasure sunken within the sponge.
  • This recipe can be made with the lovely alternative flours I suggest in the recipe or just a regular gluten-free flour.
  • No xanthan gum is needed. Here is why I never bake with it.
  • It always goes down a treat at any occasion – Apple Cake is such a crowd pleaser.

ingredients for apple cake

Gluten-Free Flours

This recipe uses 2 alternative flours which is my preferred flour choice for the recipe as I love the flavours they impart:

Sorghum Flour – this flour is chosen purely for flavour. It’s earthy buttery flavour is a perfect backdrop for the apples and the cinnamon. For more info on how to use sorghum flour in your bakes visit this post.
Potato Starch – this flour is needed to help add structure to the cake.

However, you can substitute the sorghum flour and the potato starch for the same amount (both added together is 230g) of regular gluten-free flour. I tested this recipe with Doves Farm Gluten-Free Plain White Flour and it worked a treat. You could use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 or any of your preferred brands.

Ground Almonds

We use a good amount of ground almonds in this cake to help with the structure of the sponge. Nuts are packed with protein so they give a great moist yet fluffy texture to the cake.

Can you substitute the ground almonds for another kind of ground nut?

I wouldn’t recommend substituting the full amount with another ground nut since there is a large amount called for and too much of another nut could become a little overpowering (almonds are quite gentle in flavour). But you could substitute some of the ground almonds for ground pecans or walnuts.

If you want to know more about nut flours then visit this post for all the details on how to bake with them.

How do you make Gluten-Free Apple Cake?

(Find the full method in the recipe card below)

  1. Melt the butter, sugar and cinnamon together then stir in cubes of apple. Gently cook for 5 minutes until the apple is just starting to caramelise. Set aside to cool.Cubes of apple caramelising in a pan Cubes of apple caramelising in a pan Cubes of apple caramelising in a pan
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.creamed butter and sugar
  3. Add the eggs one at a time then the vanilla extract.
  4. Whisk the flours, ground almonds, baking powder and salt together in separate mixing bowl.hand whisking flour in a bowl
  5. Take 2 tablespoons of the flour mix to sprinkle over the cooled apples. Toss to coat and set aside.apple cubes sprinkled with flour
  6. Add the flour mix in batches alternately with the milk and mix until just combined.cake batter in a mixing bowl
  7. Pour 1/3 of the cake batter into the tin. Sprinkle over half of the apples. Then add another 1/3 of cake batter, followed by the rest of the apples. Cover the apple with the final 1/3 of cake batter and smooth the surface.apple cake in a cake tin preparing for the ovenapple cake in a cake tin preparing for the oven
  8. Bake for 50-55 minutes in a 8×4” round cake tin at 160°C (fan setting).
  9. Remove the cake from the oven, cool on a wire rack then scatter with icing sugar to decorate.Apple cake on a cooling rack next to a knife and a sifter of icing sugar

Bakers Tips

  • Let your caramelised apple cool completely before adding into the cake.
  • Coat the apple in a couple of tablespoons of the flour mix so the apple chunks do not sink to the bottom of the cake.
  • Try to avoid placing any of the caramelised apple pieces right in the centre of the cake. This helps with the cutting of the cake later on. If the centre of the cake is apple free you can produce cleaner slices which won’t crumble at the tip of the knife.

Apple cake on a cooling rack next to a knife and a sifter of icing sugar

Recommended Equipment

slice of apple cake on a plate

What can you serve with Gluten-Free Apple Cake?

This Apple Cake is good enough to serve all by its lonesome with just a sprinkling of icing sugar.

However, if you are looking for a crowd pleasing dessert then it’s simply divine with lashings of fresh custard or even Bird’s Custard. You made the cake, sometimes making your own custard is one step too far.

slice of apple cake on a plate with custard next to cut cake

FAQs

  • What apples are the best to use? – Bramley apples are my favourite apple to use here but any tart garden apple will be fine. Granny Smiths are also lovely.
  • Should you peel the apples? – Yes, the peel doesn’t give a great texture to the cake if left on.
  • Freezing – the cake freezes really well. I recommend double wrapping in cling film and then tin foil to protect it really well. Remove from the freezer and let defrost overnight before unwrapping.
  • Storing – The cake will keep really well for up to 5 days in an airtight cake tin in a cool dark place. You can keep in a plastic cake box if that’s all you have but the cake will get a little damp and then it’s best within 3 days.

slice of apple cake on a plate with custard

Taking your Apple Cake one step further

  • Sultanas – this cake is so delicious with a handful of sultanas included in the batter as well.
  • Spices – by all means amp up the spicing by adding another teaspoon of cinnamon to the batter and also a teaspoon of ground ginger or mixed spice.
  • Stem Ginger – Diced stem ginger added to the batter before baking is never going to be a bad idea! Have you tried homemade stem ginger too? Then you’ll really be living the life!

If you like this recipe then you may also like:

Apple and Cinnamon Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream
Bramley Apple and Mincemeat Pudding
Apple and Blackberry Crumble
Gluten-Free Fruit Cake
Gluten-Free Victoria Sponge
Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

If you make this Gluten-Free Apple Cake then please leave a comment below and give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

cut apple cake on a cooling rack next to a knife

Gluten-Free Apple Cake

This Gluten-Free Apple Cake is a family favourite. Studded with caramelised cinnamon apple chunks for a comforting homely bake. Plus, no xanthan gum!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 418kcal

Ingredients

  • 400 g bramley apples 2-3
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 20 g unsalted butter
  • 3 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 150 g sorghum flour*
  • 80 g potato flour*
  • 220 g ground almonds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 200 g unsalted butter
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 90 ml whole milk
  • teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Melt the butter, sugar and cinnamon together in a large flat based saucepan for about 3 minutes until the sugar has melted. Pour in the apple cubes and coat with the cinnamon caramel. Gently cook for 5 minutes until the apple is just starting to caramelise.
  • Remove from the heat and spread the apples out on a tray in a single layer to allow to cool whilst you prepare the rest of the cake.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/ 160°C fan / gas mark 4 and line and grease an 8x4” round cake tin.
  • Cream the butter and sugar on a high speed in a food mixer for about 5 minutes until very light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and mix until completely incorporated. Then add the vanilla extract.
  • Whisk the flours, ground almonds, baking powder and salt together in separate mixing bowl.
  • Take 2 tablespoons of the flour mix to sprinkle over the cooled apples. Toss to coat and set aside.
  • Add the flour mix into the rest of the ingredients, alternately with the milk, adding the flour in three additions and the milk in two (begin and end with the flour), scrape down the sides of the bowls as needed and mix until just combined.
  • Pour 1/3 of the cake batter into the tin. Followed by half of the apples. Then add another 1/3 of cake batter, followed by the rest of the apples. Cover the apple with the final 1/3 of cake batter and smooth the surface.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes or until an inserted cocktail stick comes out clean.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and leave to settle for 5 minutes in its tin, then turn out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely before scattering with icing sugar.

Notes

  • *You can substitute the sorghum flour and potato starch with 230g regular gluten-free flour (I use Doves Farm Gluten-Free Plain White Flour)
  • You can use any kind of tart apple or Granny Smiths.
  • Let the apple chunks cool completely before adding to the cake batter.
  • Avoid placing the apple chunks right in the centre of the cake - it helps to stop the cake from collapsing in the middle when you start cutting it.
  • The cake is delicious warmed and served with vanilla custard.

Nutrition

Calories: 418kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 128mg | Potassium: 243mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 568IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @FromTheLarder or tag #FromTheLarder!

Comments

  1. Hi Georgina,
    Thank you for your site, it’s helped me to experiment with flours and I’m finally eating cake for the first time in years! Unfortunately I’m also allergic to peanuts and almonds and intolerant to rice. I’ve been looking for a safe apple cake recipe so getting an email with this one recipe got me really excited then deflated – is there anything (rice-free) I can use to replace the ground almonds?
    Thanks
    Catherine

    • Hi Catherine, I won’t be able to recommend a direct substitution for the almonds as they are the key ingredients in giving the cake structure. It’s all to do with the proteins in the nuts. All I can do is encourage you to experiment. You could switch out the almonds for a nut you are not allergic to – maybe pecans or walnuts. You will then need to decrease the amount of nuts as the taste of the alternative nut would be too overpowering. Then increase the amount of sorghum and potato starch to make up the difference. I can’t guarantee the results as I’ve never tried it this way and the taste of the cake would be very different – although I would imagine delicious.

  2. Sonja Ellis says

    Hi Georgina,
    Is it possible to substitute corn or tapioca starch for the potato starch?
    I love your recipes and I would like to make this one too. I have to avoid night shade produce and potatoes are on that list.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
    Cheers,
    Sonja

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