This easy Apple Spice Cake will be your new favourite autumn dessert! It’s made with whole wheat flour, apple pie spice and apple cider, and topped with a vegan buttercream frosting. It’s the perfect cake to serve for Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert!
Single layer snack cakes are my favourite desserts to prepare for gatherings. They come together quickly and serve up easily. And they’re always a crowd pleaser!
My all time favourite (and reader favourite) is this vegan chai cake with orange cardamom frosting. It’s so easy to pull together and always a go-to dessert for me around the holidays.
The same will be true for this vegan apple spice cake going forward!
This cake is lightly spiced, with a soft and tender crumb, and the sweet vegan buttercream perfectly complements the taste and texture of the cake.
And if you love apple spice, you’ll also want to try these apple spice muffins!
Why you’ll love this apple spice cake recipe
- It’s a single layer cake. So you just need to frost the top. You don’t need to worry about assembling and frosting multiple layers.
- Apple flavour with just apple cider. There’s no fussing with chopping or grating apples. And you don’t need to reduce the apple cider for this recipe either.
- Dairy-free and vegan. It’s a great dessert option to offer your holiday guests who are vegan or follow a dairy-free diet.
Details on a few ingredients
Apple cider – Apple cider adds a subtle apple flavour to this cake without having to add apples or applesauce. I used fresh pressed sweet apple cider which is just pressed apples. You can use reduced apple cider (just boiled down on the stovetop) to get a more concentrated apple flavour, but to save time, I didn’t do that for this recipe.
Apple pie spice – I’m using store-bought apple pie spice with a mix of cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and cloves. Different apple pie spice recipes have different combinations and proportions of spices so the type of apple pie spice you use may alter the taste of the cake slightly.
Cinnamon – As the apple pie spice I was using had a pronounced star anise flavour, I added extra ground cinnamon to the cake. You can reduce the amount if your apple pie spice is heavy on the cinnamon.
Coconut sugar – The caramel flavour of coconut sugar enhances the flavour of the apple cider and warm spices. You can substitute brown sugar with similar results.
Butter – To keep this recipe vegan, I used vegan butter to make the buttercream frosting and brought it to room temperature so it would whip up easily. If you don’t need this recipe to be vegan, you can use regular butter.
Powdered sugar – Also called icing sugar. You’ll need this to sweeten and thicken the frosting. If your sugar is lumpy, be sure to sift it first so your frosting turns out super creamy.
How to make apple spice cake
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, spices, baking soda and salt.
Add in the milk, apple cider, oil and vanilla and stir until just combined. Don’t over mix.
Pour the batter into a 8-inch pan lined with overhanging parchment paper and bake for 24-26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
How to make vegan spiced buttercream frosting
Add the softened butter to a mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until smooth.
Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until smooth and fluffy. (If you want your frosting sweeter and thicker, you can add more powdered sugar. I suggest adding a few tablespoons at a time).
Add the apple pie spice and vanilla and beat again until incorporated.
- For the nut milk, I normally use unsweetened cashew or almond milk, but you can use another type of non-dairy milk or use dairy milk for a non-vegan cake.
- If you don’t have coconut sugar, brown sugar works as a substitute in this cake.
- You can use store-bought or homemade apple pie spice. I used store-bought but here’s a recipe to make homemade apple pie spice.
- If apple pie spice is not for you or you want to change up the flavour of this cake, you can use cinnamon, pumpkin spice or chai spice.
- Instead of the vegan buttercream, you can use any kind of buttercream recipe you like or a cream cheese frosting. To keep it vegan, try a coconut whipped cream or this chocolate avocado frosting.
Make ahead and freezing instructions
Although I think this cake is best enjoyed freshly made, you can store the frosted cake, covered, in the fridge for 3-4 days.
You can also make the cake 1-2 days in advance, leave it unfrosted and store it covered at room temperature. When ready to serve, whip up the buttercream and frost the cake.
You can also make the frosting 1-2 days in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will firm up so you’ll need to let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before giving it a good stir and then frosting the cake.
You can store the unfrosted cake in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just let it cool completely, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container or resealable freezer bag before freezing it.
To defrost, keep the cake in the plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator the day before you want to serve it or leave it at room temperature for a few hours. Once defrosted, make the buttercream and frost the cake.
Frequently asked questions
While I haven’t tested this, I have read that apple juice can be used in place of apple cider in a pinch. I would make sure the apple juice is unsweetened. If you try it, please let me know how it goes!
No. The apple cider in this cake adds a sweet apple flavour. If you substitute apple cider vinegar, the cake will have a distinct vinegar taste.
I’ve only tested this apple cider cake with whole wheat flour. All-purpose white flour isn’t as absorbent as whole wheat, so if you try to use it, you will need to reduce the quantity of wet ingredients used or add more flour.
This cake is made in an 8-inch square pan. You can use a 9-inch square pan, but the cake will be very thin and you’ll need to reduce the baking time. Instead, I would use a 9-inch round pan, which is more comparable in size to the 8-inch square.
If the cake is left unfrosted, it is best stored in an airtight container at room temperature. If it’s frosted, it should be refrigerated.
The unfrosted cake will last at room temperature for 4-5 days. Once frosted, the cake will last in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Key recipe tips
- Measure flour properly. To ensure you’re adding the correct quantity of flour to the recipe, be sure to spoon and level your flour.
- Don’t over mix. This can lead to dense or gummy cakes instead of light and airy.
- Toothpick test. Oven temperatures can vary so I always test a cake for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the centre. If it comes out clean (or with just a few crumbs), the cake is ready to come out of the oven.
- Parchment paper. I lightly spray my cake pans and then line them with overhanging parchment paper. The spray helps the paper stick and the paper makes sure the cake doesn’t stick to the pan. It also helps lift the cake out of the pan for easy frosting and serving.
- Let the cake cool before frosting. If the cake is not fully cooled, the buttercream icing will start to melt as you spread it on.
- Sweeter frosting. The frosting recipe doesn’t contain as much powdered sugar as some other buttercream recipes. If you like your frosting sweeter and thicker, you can mix in additional powdered sugar.
Other easy vegan cakes
- Orange Spice Cake
- Pumpkin Snack Cake
- Sweet Potato Cake
- Banana Snack Cake
- Easy Chocolate Sheet Cake
- Chocolate Cranberry Cake
- Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes
If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!Print
This easy Apple Spice Cake is made with whole wheat flour, apple pie spice and apple cider, and topped with a vegan buttercream frosting!
For the cake:
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, spooned and levelled
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons apple pie spice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 cup fresh-pressed sweet apple cider
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 3/4 cup vegan butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F and line a 8-inch square baking pan with overhanging parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, spices, baking soda and salt.
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the milk, apple cider, oil and vanilla. Stir until just combined. Don’t over mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 24-26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
- To make the frosting, place the softened butter in a mixing bowl. Using a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.
- Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar a 1/4 cup at a time until the frosting is smooth and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed. (You can add more powdered sugar if you like your frosting thicker and sweeter).
- Add in the apple pie spice and vanilla and beat again until incorporated.
- Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Slice and serve.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy within 3-4 days.
- For the nut milk, you can use unsweetened cashew or almond milk, another type of non-dairy milk or even dairy milk for a non-vegan cake.
- If you don’t have coconut sugar, brown sugar works as a substitute.
- You can use 1/2 cup of reduced apple cider if you prefer a more concentrated apple flavour.
- You can use store-bought or homemade apple pie spice. Just note that different apple pie spice recipes have different combinations and proportions of spices so the type of apple pie spice you use may alter the taste of the cake slightly.
- As the apple pie spice I was using had a pronounced star anise flavour, I added extra ground cinnamon to the cake. You can reduce the amount if your apple pie spice is heavy on the cinnamon.
- Be sure to check out the other sections above the recipe card for more detailed advice and suggestions for making this recipe.
Keywords: apple cider cake, vegan apple spice cake