Holiday Apple Cake


Sweet Freedom

Published by Ricki Heller

This image courtesy of Ricki Heller

A cake this big and bursting with apples really does evoke a celebration. My mom used to bake a similar cake for the holidays in our house. With its double layer of cinnamon-soaked apples and moist, honeyed cake, this beauty will likely become a favorite at your house, too.

NotesCorn Free

Recipe can be nut free or soy free, but not both at the same time (the recipe calls for one or the other; using almond milk renders it soy free; using soymilk renders it nut free).

Cooking Methodbaking


Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursedessert

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Mealbrunch, dinner, tea

Taste and Texturefruity, sweet

Type of Dishcake, dessert


  • 3½ to 4 cups (about 800 ml) thinly sliced apple (from about 4 large, peeled and cored apples; or leave the peel on if you prefer)
  • ¼ cup (45 g) Sucanat (or other unrefined evaporated cane juice)
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) cinnamon
  • ½ cup (120 ml) light agave nectar
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) brown rice syrup
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) finely ground chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) plain or vanilla soy or almond milk
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp (2.5 ml) pure lemon extract
  • 1½ cups (215 g) light spelt flour
  • ¾ cup (90 g) barley flour
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
  • ½ tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Lightly grease a large bundt pan with coconut oil or spray with nonstick spray.

  2. In a medium bowl, toss the apple slices with the Sucanat and cinnamon; set aside.

  3. In another medium bowl, combine the agave nectar, brown rice syrup, chia seeds, oil, soymilk, vanilla, vinegar and lemon extract. Whisk together to ensure that there are no small lumps of chia visible. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.

  4. In a large bowl, sift together the spelt flour, barley flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir to blend.

  5. Pour 1/3 of the batter into the bottom of the pan (you can just estimate). Cover with a layer of about ½ the apples, taking care not to let apples touch the sides of the pan (it’s not a tragedy if they do happen to touch the sides, but it will make it a bit more difficult to remove the cake from the pan without it breaking). Top with another 1/3 of the batter, gently spreading to cover the apples as completely as possible. Add the rest of the apples, again taking care not to touch the sides of the pan; finish with the last 1/3 of the batter, and gently smooth the top. All the apples should be covered with batter; if a tiny edge or point of apple sticks out from the batter on top, this is fine, but most should be under batter.

  6. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, rotating pan about halfway through, until a tester inserted halfway between the outside and inside walls of the pan comes out clean (it can be moist from the apples, but shouldn’t have any batter on it). The cake will be domed on top and deep golden.

  7. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before turning out onto a rack and cooling completely. This cake is lovely plain, with ice cream or whipped cream, or dusted with some Sucanat and cinnamon that have been powdered in a blender or coffee grinder.

  8. Store covered in refrigerator for up to 5 days. May be frozen.


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