This vegan apple cake is perfectly spiced and made with apples, cinnamon, non-dairy yogurt, and aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) and (surprise!) no oil. It’s topped with an utterly irresistible maple chai-spiced drizzle. Perfect for dessert, breakfast, or anytime in between.
This vegan apple cake with a chai-spiced caramel-like glaze is our secret weapon during the holidays. It easily serves triple duty as dessert, breakfast, and anytime-of-day nosh, and since it’s vegan and can easily be made gluten-free (though you’d never, ever be able to guess that from the taste), it’ll easily please all the diners at your table.–Angie Zoobkoff
☞ Table of Contents
Vegan Apple Cake with Maple Chai Glaze
For the cake
- 6 tablespoons aquafaba (the drained liquid from one 15-ounce (425-g) can of chickpeas)
- Scant 2 cups whole-grain spelt flour (or use gluten-free flour)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup plain non-dairy yogurt
- 2 medium apples any variety, cored and coarsely grated
For the chai drizzle
- 5 tablespoons store-bought or homemade cashew butter or almond butter, preferably made from unroasted nuts
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla powder or vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Seeds from 1 cardamom pod
- Small pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- Pinch of salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons nut milk if needed
Make the apple cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20-cm) springform or round cake pan with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer), beat the aquafaba until stiff white peaks form, 3 to 6 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour. Add the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, coconut sugar, and salt. Stir until combined.
- Using a spoon, gently mix in the yogurt, whipped aquafaba, and apple.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes in the pan placed on a wire rack. Then turn the cake out onto the wire rack, turn it right side up, and let it cool completely.
Make the chai drizzle
- In a blender, combine all the ingredients except the nut milk and blend until smooth. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little of the nut milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Assemble the cake
- Once the cake has cooled completely, set a sheet of parchment paper under the rack and pour over the chai drizzle.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This vegan apple cake is a simple snack cake that’s quick to throw together. The texture of the cake is hearty and a bit coarse in a positive, muffiny way. The flavor is very good and the topping is the essential secret as the peppery cardamom spice mix is delicious with the maple and almond butter. Maybe next time we’ll even double the topping.
We served the apple cake with tea in the afternoon and then again in the morning for breakfast.
To whip the aquafaba, we used a large metal bowl and a whisk. Stiff peaks formed in less than 3 minutes. Our cake was slightly overdone at 50 minutes (the edges were a bit dry) so next time we will test for doneness at 45 minutes.
We used spelt flour, “Cashewgurt,” Pink Lady apples, smooth salted almond butter, and added 2 tablespoons almond milk to the drizzle. The cake easily serves 10.
This vegan apple cake epitomizes my favorite kind of baking. It isn’t elaborate and it doesn’t require painstaking decoration. It isn’t showy and it isn’t overly sweet. Instead, it relies upon the flavor and texture of the cake itself. With a simply presented cake like this one, the cake needs to be just right and full of flavor, and this one is exactly that. That it is vegan and can be gluten-free is the proverbial icing on the cake.
Speaking of icing, the chai glaze here is spot on, and everyone who tasted it took it for a caramel. The one difficulty with this cake was that neither almond nor cashew butter made from unroasted nuts was readily available. My workaround was to make my own cashew butter in my Vitamix. I used 3 cups raw cashews and 1/2 cup safflower oil to go in a 32-oz Vitamix container (if you have only the larger containers, you will need to do a larger batch). This yielded roughly 20 ounces of absolutely delicious, naturally sweet cashew butter. That’s what I used for the glaze. The cashew butter I made was a pretty loose consistency so I didn’t need to add any additional liquid to the chai glaze.
In hindsight, I do think it would be fine with a nut butter made from roasted nuts, so if that’s what you have available and you don’t feel like making your own, don’t let that stop you from making this recipe. The flavor will be a bit different, but I bet it will still be delicious.
I made this recipe gluten-free. I used King Arthur’s Measure for Measure gluten-free flour. For the aquafaba, I obtained more than the 6 tablespoons needed from just one 15-ounce can of chickpeas. (If you’re needing a use for the drained chickpeas themselves, I like to just toss them with a bit of oil and some seasoning—you can go in many directions here—and roast at 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes. These make a great salad topping, pasta add-in, or just eat them like popcorn.)
This spiced apple cake had non-vegans and vegans alike going back for seconds. It’s moist, similar texture to a carrot cake, which I love. The chai maple glaze is deliciously spicy, adding a great zing to the dessert.
I used plain flax yogurt as I didn’t want to add any extra sweetness. One individual container was just about the perfect amount required. I didn’t have white cashew or almond butter at my store, but the Justin’s brand has a maple cashew butter so I used that, and it worked well.
My glaze was very thick as I didn’t add any extra liquid to the recipe. It didn’t drip down the side but I actually ended up liking how thick it was when we were eating it.
This was very easy to make, although I never enjoy having to whip egg whites or aquafaba for a cake. I used a mixture of spelt and gluten-free flour, and added the whipped aquafaba last, after mixing in the yogurt and apple, as I wanted to make sure I didn’t collapse the whipped stuff. I baked it for about 55 minutes and it came out of the pan beautifully.
Paired with vanilla ice cream, this was an addicting finish to a meal.
I don’t care what diet this recipe fits, I’m sold on this wholesome version of apple spice cake. Now, skeptics of “healthy” desserts may be more comfortable with a reference to snacktime or brunch, as the whole-grain spelt flour puts you in mind of a bran muffin, as does its dark crumb. And without the drizzle, the cake itself toes the line where sweet meets not-sweet. That aside, where this treat doesn’t hold back is in its unapologetic warm, fall spice. Oh, and the chai drizzle? Spicy, unusual, and doesn’t taste at all of nut butter. I’d eat it off a spoon (actually I already did).
A couple real-talk kitchen notes, mostly good news: Don’t have a springform pan? This worked fine, no overflow, in a regular 8-inch cake pan, well-buttered with parchment paper underneath. And my usually well-stocked grocery had no non-dairy yogurt, so I (skeptically) reached for the Tofutti non-dairy sour cream; it was a win. I used a Gala apple. Caution: My cake was done, tester-clean, aromatic, and pulling away from the edges at only 43 minutes! It’d have been a shame to dry this tender cake out.
Now for another piece, and a ponder: could carrots sub for apple? What about tossing in raisins? And what WON’T that chai drizzle taste good on?! I went easy on the ginger and used more like 3/4 t. I used 1 T + 1 t hot almond milk to thin the drizzle. I used microwaved almond milk to loosen the sticky drizzle mixture. It was pleasantly drippy with 1T plus 1t milk.
Originally published November 22, 2019