Easy Apple Coffee Cake (GF, Vegan)

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Squares of gluten-free vegan apple coffee cake

You know when you take a bite of cake and just breathe a sigh of relief and satisfaction? Well, get ready. Because after many tests (we lost count — 6 or 600, maybe?), we’ve cracked the code on the perfect apple coffee cake! It’s balanced, slightly toasty, undeniably comforting, and infused with cinnamon. 

Made with wholesome almond flour and nutty coconut sugar, it’s gluten-free and plant-based, yet full of flavor. It’s perfect for afternoon tea, an indulgent breakfast or brunch, or as a snack or dessert. All it takes is simple ingredients and 1 mixing bowl. Let us show you how it’s done! 

Coconut sugar, apples, vegan butter, dairy-free milk, cane sugar, almond flour, gluten-free flour blend, spices, baking powder, and baking soda

Origins of Coffee Cake

While the name “coffee cake” might make you think it contains coffee, that’s not usually the case. Instead, coffee cake refers to a sweet cake eaten alongside a cup of coffee. It’s believed that the concept originated in the 17th century in Northern/Central Europe.

Then, immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia brought it to the US. By the late 19th century, some American bakers did add coffee to the cake batter and others modified it to be denser and more cake-like.

The following is a plant-based and gluten-free version infused with apples, cinnamon, and an optional crumb topping.

How to Make Apple Coffee Cake

Almond flour and our DIY Gluten-Free Flour Blend combine for a wholesome, crumb-like base that stands up to the richness of vegan butter. The sweetness comes from maple syrup and coconut sugar, while vanilla, cinnamon, and salt infuse the batter with flavor.

Baking powder and baking soda provide leavening, and a small amount of dairy-free milk adds just enough moisture to mix while keeping the batter thick enough to withstand the moisture from the apples.

Stirring Granny smith apples into cake batter

Chunks of peeled apples infuse the cake with apple flavor in every bite. We tested with both sweet (Honeycrisp) and tart (Granny Smith) apples and much preferred the more prominent apple flavor from the Granny Smith.

Apple coffee cake batter in a baking dish

After a stint in the oven, the top of the cake becomes golden brown and is ready for the optional (but highly recommended) topping.

Adding a crumble topping to apple coffee cake

The crumb topping is made with a simple mix of organic cane sugar and coconut sugar that’s infused with cinnamon and made into a crumbly texture with the help of vegan butter and more gluten-free flour. Another 5 minutes in the oven gets it golden brown and toasty.

Overhead shot of slices of apple coffee cake with a crumble topping

We hope you LOVE this apple coffee cake! It’s:

Sweet
Nutty
Toasty
Comforting
Easy to prepare
& Oh-so-snackable!

It’s perfect for afternoon tea, an indulgent breakfast or brunch, or as a snack or dessert. Pair it with our Easy Vegan Eggnog, Easy Pumpkin Spice Latte, or Easy Masala Chai for MEGA fall feels!

More Apple Recipes

If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!

Picking up a slice of apple coffee cake from a plate

Easy Apple Coffee Cake (GF, Vegan)

Perfectly balanced, slightly toasty, classic apple coffee cake that also happens to be gluten-free and plant-based. Perfect for afternoon tea, or as a snack or dessert! Simple ingredients and just 1 bowl required!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Side view of a stack of slices of apple coffee cake
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 12 (Slices)
Course Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine German-Inspired, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 3 Days

Ingredients

APPLE CAKE

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dairy-free milk (we used almond)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, melted (we like Miyoko’s here)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or sub organic cane sugar)
  • 2 ½ cups almond flour
  • 1 ½ cups DIY Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see notes for store-bought)
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups chopped Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

CRUMB TOPPING optional

  • 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or sub brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter, melted (we like Miyoko’s here)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup DIY Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see notes for store-bought)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C) and line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving plenty of paper over the edges so you can easily lift the cake out later. This recipe will also work in a 9-inch round cake pan, or two 6-inch round cake pans.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine dairy-free milk, melted butter, maple syrup, and vanilla and mix well. Next, add the coconut sugar, almond flour, gluten-free flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and stir until well combined. The texture will be quite thick and will resemble a cookie dough more than a typical cake batter. Add the cubed apples and mix until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread it evenly. It’s okay if the top has some texture; it will be covered with the crumble topping later!
  • Put the cake into the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the crumble topping (optional).
  • To your now-empty mixing bowl, add the cane sugar, coconut sugar, and cinnamon and mix with a fork until evenly combined. Add the vegan butter and mix well. Next, begin adding the flour in 1/4 cup (40 g) increments, mixing well with your fork after each addition. You may need more or less flour depending on the brand of your gluten-free blend. Add flour until the texture appears pale and slightly dry and the mixture clumps together easily when you pinch it.
  • At the 40-minute mark, remove the cake from the oven and carefully add the crumble topping in an even layer on top of the cake. Return the cake to the oven for 5 minutes until the crumble topping is dry to the touch and just beginning to look toasty.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the baking dish. Let cool almost completely before slicing and serving. Keep at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Video

Notes

*We haven’t tried with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, but that would be the closest store-bought option as a sub for our DIY GF Flour Blend.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without optional ingredients.

Nutrition (1 of 12 servings)

Serving: 1 slice Calories: 323 Carbohydrates: 35.6 g Protein: 5.8 g Fat: 18.9 g Saturated Fat: 6.3 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g Monounsaturated Fat: 7.6 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 323 mg Potassium: 245 mg Fiber: 3.5 g Sugar: 14.9 g Vitamin A: 9.8 IU Vitamin C: 0.7 mg Calcium: 130 mg Iron: 1.1 mg

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  1. Abby says

    I’d love to make this in a 9X13 pan- any idea how to adjust the measurements and baking time for that? Thank you!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Abby, we’d suggest making a 1.5x batch. You can adjust the # of servings to 18 and the measurements will adjust in the recipe. We’d estimate it will take another ~10 minutes. Hope that helps!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Jen, We haven’t tried this with all purpose flour yet, but we think it would work. We’d suggest using 2 – 2 1/2 cups of flour in place of the almond and GF blend or for best texture, we’d suggest keeping the almond flour and subbing all purpose flour 1-1 for the GF blend. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try!

  2. Katie says

    Pretty delicious! I made this using 1 cup APF and 1 cup almond flour. I also used real butter bc I didn’t have any vegan butter. Very tasty!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thank you for sharing, Katie! We’re surprised it still turned out well with less flour! Perhaps you made a half batch?

      • Katie says

        l did it based on the comments below (suggesting 2-2 1/2 all purpose if subbing for ALL the flour) and Maria’s experience using 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup almond flour and it filled the 9” cake pan well! Maybe I misinterpreted the comment though?

        • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

          Ah, gotcha! Sorry we weren’t clear on that! We suggest 2-2 1/2 cups all purpose flour if replacing both the GF blend and almond flour because all purpose is more absorbent than almond flour. If using almond flour and all purpose, we’d suggest using the full amount of almond flour and replacing the GF blend 1-1 with all purpose.

  3. Emily says

    This coffee cake was so delicious! I will definitely be making this again and often. It’s delicious with some coconut milk caramel drizzled over it to add even more decadence.
    I used the Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 as the GF flour and it worked great! I think next time I will add a bit more apple but it is amazing as written!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Oooh major YUM to that coconut milk caramel drizzle! We’re so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for sharing, Emily! xo

  4. Kim says

    Seems like a lot of flour. I made the recipe and used half of what it called for and it would have been better with less.

    Thanks for all the inspiring recipes and the hardback book is awesome!

  5. Lisa says

    This cake is amazing! The flavor, the texture, the balance of spices-all perfect. I used King Arthur’s Measure for Measure.
    My father has celiac and I love to bake so I really appreciate you providing recipes we all can enjoy!

  6. Linda says

    Hi this was delicious! Perfect fall recipe. I doubled the ingredients for the crumble and used honey crisp apples as that is what I had at home. My family loved it and we have a new Christmas morning recipe! Will make this again and again!

    Thanks

  7. clio says

    Perfect. Halved the recipe and cut the apples smaller to suit the kids fussy textural issues. Thanks for the yummy cake, quick and easy to make.

  8. VICKY says

    I’m writing this as I sadly finish the last delicious crumbs of this cake. Exquisite! And the best part is that it was so easy and quick to make!
    I wish it didn’t require butter so I feel less guilty eating it lol
    Do you think this could work with avocado oil?
    Thanks!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, thank you so much for your kind review, Vicky! We are so excited to hear you loved this one! We do think avocado oil would work, but won’t have quite the same flavor.

      • The Vegan Goddess says

        I will try this with coconut oil. I don’t mind unrefined coconut oil which imparts a a slight coconut flavor or refined coconut oil which doesn’t impart a noticeable flavor.

        Either way, I have found that subbing coconut oil for butter or vegan butter has always worked well. I use the equal amount of what is called for in the recipe. I am not a fan of commercial vegan butters.

  9. Adrienne Fincher says

    We made this a couple days ago and it turned out great! The only subs we used was Bob’s 1:1 in the cake and coconut oil and all coconut sugar for the topping cuz I ran out of vegan butter.
    We made it to go along with our tea party with my 3 and 6 year old. It was perfect and delicious. Thank you!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi, We haven’t tried this with all purpose flour yet, but we think it would work. We’d suggest using 2 – 2 1/2 cups of flour. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try!

      • Jaime says

        This was excellent! Used coconut oil instead of vegan butter. Was too sweet for us with the topping, perfection without. Will make again!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Kira, We haven’t tried this with all purpose flour yet, but we think it would work. We’d suggest using 2 – 2 1/2 cups of flour. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try!

  10. Maria says

    Just made this! It came out soo good! I didn’t have gluten free flour so I did sub it for 2 cups of regular flour (I saw your suggestion in the other comment) and it was fine. I baked it for about 30 minutes and that seemed to be a good time! The crumble on top is sooo good, paired with a cup of pumpkin coffee this cake is my new go to for the fall season! Thank you for the recipe!

  11. Michele says

    First of all, thank you for all the lovely recipes! I’m not vegan or gluten free but I’ve made so many of your delicious recipes and they never fail to impress!

    I was wondering, do you think this could work if the apples were shredded instead of in chunks?

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, we’re so glad to hear that, Michele! Thank you for sharing! We think for this recipe the texture would be too moist with shredded apples. But it works in our apple snack cake which has a smaller amount of apple!

  12. Mayen says

    Hello! I’m allergic to almond flour and the only safe alternative for me would be pecan flour- would that work?? Thanks!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Mayen, we haven’t tried with that modification, but think it could work! We’d suggest using a little less vegan butter because pecans are more oily than almonds. Hope that helps!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Cara, We haven’t tried this with all purpose flour yet, but we think it would work. We’d suggest using 2 – 2 1/2 cups of flour. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Kris, we’re not sure how this would taste oil-free as the vegan butter does add a lot of flavor. Your best bet would probably be applesauce + nut butter, but we haven’t tried that and can’t guarantee it will turn out. Let us know if you do some experimenting!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Anna, do you mean all purpose or whole wheat? We haven’t tried this with all purpose flour yet, but we think it would work. We’d suggest using 2 – 2 1/2 cups of flour. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Rachel! We haven’t tried it but we think it would work, we’d suggest using 2 – 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try!

  13. Sandy Middleton says

    Hi there – would it change the recipe much if you just used normal flour? I don’t need it to be gluten free, nor do I have the ingredients to make my own. Thanks!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Sandy! We haven’t tried this with regular flour yet, but we think it would work. We’d suggest using 2 – 2 1/2 cups of flour. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try!

      • Vickie says

        Hello, if you substitute regular flour (2-2 1/2cups) for the gluten free blend, do you still add the almond flour? Thank you for your time.

        • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

          Hi Vickie, 2-2 1/2 cups would be if replacing both the GF blend and almond flour. We think it would turn out better with including almond flour, so if you wanted to just replace the GF blend, we think you could sub it 1-1 (or perhaps start with slightly less all purpose). Hope that helps!

        • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

          Hi Myriem, we haven’t tried with those modifications, but think coconut oil would be the next best option. Let us know if you try it!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Bela! We haven’t tried this with oil but it should work, it just might not be as flavorful! Let us know how it goes!

    • Ines says

      Hi,
      I don’t know what brand vegan butter you have out your way but Earth Balance Buttery Vegan Sticks are only 3.5 g Sat fat per tablespoon serving. You might want to look for that brand.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Shari! Unfortunately the almond flour is very important here for the right texture, we haven’t tried it will all gluten free blend but we suspect it would not work very well. It’s possible another nut flour (like cashew or hazelnut) could work?

      • Maria says

        I have often replaced almond flour with ground sunflower seeds. I find it gives the closest baked result. I simply do it because sunflowers are much cheaper than almonds :-)

    • Rebecca says

      If I’m not gluten intolerant and since I don’t have the ingredients to make your gluten free flour blend, can I go ahead and use regular AP flour or WW flour in place?

      • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

        Hi Rebecca, We haven’t tried this with regular flour yet, but we think it would work. We’d suggest using 2 – 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try!