This Healthy Apple Cake is a family favourite! Made with unsweetened applesauce, ground flax, and wholegrain spelt flour, this applesauce snacking cake is treat that doubles as a snack or even breakfast. Make vegan applesauce cake with just one simple swap!
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I think there are few things better than the smell of a spiced apple cake wafting through the house.
This apple cake in particular smells and tastes like my childhood. It's a riff on a recipe that my grandmother used to make, which I put an HNL spin on by reducing the sugar, swapping out half of the flour for wholegrain spelt flour, and adding ground flax seeds to the mix.
I'm calling this a Healthy Apple Cake today, but you could certainly refer to it as an Applesauce Snacking Cake or even a Vegan Applesauce Cake if you make one simple swap.
Whatever you want to call it, it's the humble kind of cake that you leave on the counter and steal a small square from every time you pass through the kitchen. No frosting, no streusel, no bells and whistles. Just the glorious taste of autumn in a perfectly spiced cake.
Let's do this.
What's in this recipe?
You'll find detailed amounts of all of the ingredients in the printable recipe card at the end of this post. Let's take a quick look at what you'll need:
- Applesauce --> I use my Homemade Unsweetened Applesauce recipe.
- Flour --> A blend of all-purpose and wholegrain spelt flour.
- Sugar --> I forgot to include this in the ingredients shot above. Whoops!
- Butter --> Swap out for a vegan butter substitute to make vegan applesauce cake.
- Ground flax seeds --> This helps give the cake structure without eggs, and also is hella nutritious!
- Spices --> We're going in with nutmeg and cloves.
- Baking soda --> Our leavening agent.
- Salt --> To bring balance to the whole shebang.
- Raisins --> Not essential, but highly recommended.
You don't need anything fancy to make this cake. It's a one-bowl recipe that I bring together in my largest Pyrex Measuring Cup.
I use an electric hand mixer for this recipe, but you could certainly use a stand mixer instead. You'll need a 9x9-inch square cake tin, although I'm certain it would be fine to use a round tin as well if that's what you have.
How to make this recipe:
Start by pre-heating your oven and lining your cake tin with parchment paper.
Then we're going to mix the ground flax into the applesauce (above) to give it time to thicken up a bit.
Using an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together, until light and fluffy.
Add the flax and applesauce mixture, and cream it into the butter and sugar.
Now add the flours, spices, and baking powder. I use a fork to gently mix the dry ingredients together right on top of the wet mixture, and then stir it down and combine to make the cake batter.
Lastly, add the raisins!
Pour the cake batter into your prepared cake tin, and smooth it out. It's quite a thick mixture, so you really need to spread it out.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake is puffed, golden, and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with only a few crumbs attached.
Try and let the cake cool before slicing into it - good luck with that!
Pro tips / recipe notes:
Can this cake be made vegan? You bet it can! If you want to make vegan applesauce cake, all you need to do is swap the butter for a vegan butter substitute of your choice.
Can I reduce the sugar? I have already reduced the sugar from the original recipe as much as I think is possible without compromising the texture of the cake. Keep in mind that sugar provides structure and moisture, it's not just a sweetening agent.
Can I make this recipe with gluten-free flour? I haven't tested this recipe with gluten-free flour, so if you do try it out, please let us know in the comments! I think a gluten-free all purpose flour blend would probably yield good results, but that's just an educated guess.
How long does this cake last? It'll last for a few days, covered, at room temperature. I freeze leftover cake (I know, what's that?!) in individual squares in a large freezer bag.
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Healthy Apple Cake
- 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 2 Tablespoon ground flax seeds
- ½ cup butter room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup wholegrain spelt flour or white whole wheat
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup raisins
- Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9 x 9 square baking tin with parchment paper, and butter the sides.
- In a small bowl, combine two tablespoons of ground flax with one cup unsweetened applesauce and set aside while you're preparing the other ingredients.
- In a large bowl, us an electric mixer to cream ½ cup of butter (or vegan alternative) together with ¾ cups sugar until it's light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the applesauce mixture to the butter mixture, and use the electric mixer to mix it in well.
- Add one cup all purpose flour, one cup wholegrain spelt flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon cloves to the same bowl as the wet mixture.
- Use a fork to gently mix the dry ingredients together right on top of the wet mix, and then fold the mixtures together until just combined.
- Add ½ cup raisins to the cake batter.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan, and smooth the batter out.
- Place in the preheated oven to bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan on a wire wrack. Slice into squares, and serve.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only.
- Can this cake be made vegan? You bet it can! If you want to make vegan applesauce cake, all you need to do is swap the butter for a vegan butter substitute of your choice.
- Can I reduce the sugar? I have already reduced the sugar from the original recipe as much as I think is possible without compromising the texture of the cake. Keep in mind that sugar provides structure and moisture, it's not just a sweetening agent.
- Can I make this recipe with gluten-free flour? I haven't tested this recipe with gluten-free flour, so if you do try it out, please let us know in the comments! I think a gluten-free all purpose flour blend would probably yield good results, but that's just an educated guess.
- How long does this cake last? It'll last for a few days, covered, at room temperature. I freeze leftover cake (I know, what's that?!) in individual squares in a large freezer bag.
This recipe was first published April 21, 2015. It was re-tested, edited, and updated with new photos on September 18, 2021.