Grain-free Cinnamon Apple Cake Recipe - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Grain-free Cinnamon Apple Cake Recipe

grain-free cinnamon apple cake | pamela salzman

One of the first desserts I made my boyfriend-now-husband was the Chunky Apple Walnut Cake from The Silver Palate Cookbook.  Do you remember that book?  Even though it’s from 1982, I still have it on the shelf in my kitchen with more current titles.  It was probably the second cookbook I ever bought and still one of my all-time favorites.  That Chicken Marbella is legendary!

mixing it altogether

But I might have won my husband’s heart with that apple walnut cake.  It was dense, sweet and chock full of apples and walnut pieces.  I actually healthified it many years ago with whole wheat flour, coconut oil and sucanat, with delicious, but still decadent results.  But lately I’ve been trying to limit the gluten and indulge in it when it counts (e.g. crusty bread, pizza).  After the wildly successful grain-free chocolate zucchini cake (if you haven’t made that, you must!), I decided to do a twist on that and make a cinnamon apple version.

grain-free cinnamon apple cake | pamela salzman

This apple cake is very different from the Silver Palate one, but my husband has also come around to a lighter, more healthful way of eating, especially since we hit 40. When he and the kids went crazy for this grain-free cake, I knew I had to teach it in my classes.  It was a big hit there, too.

grain-free cinnamon apple cake | pamela salzman

When September rolls around, it’s not only back to school, but apple season and the Jewish new year, too.  This was the perfect week to post this recipe since this Sunday is the first night of Rosh Hashana.  Even if you don’t celebrate the Jewish holidays this cake is a delicious treat in a lunch box or after dinner with a dusting of powdered sugar to make it look a little fancier.  My husband loves pieces of walnuts or pecans in here, but my son preferred a version I tested with raisins.  Either way, this is a more wholesome, clean cake than most out there and who can resist tender chunks of apple enveloped in a sweet and cinnamon-y cake?   And you won’t know this is flour-free or grain-free.  It tastes as good as “normal” cake no matter how you slice it.

grain-free cinnamon apple cake | pamela salzman

It freezes beautifully and I found out that it even tastes great frozen after I tried to tuck some away so that I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it.  Can someone please explain “self control” to me?  Who eats frozen cake???  I am planning on making at least one of these for my Rosh Hashana luncheon next Monday and I know I won’t have to worry about leftovers.

grain-free cinnamon apple cake | pamela salzman


5.0 from 4 reviews
Grain-free Cinnamon Apple Cake Recipe
Serves: 1 cake
  • unrefined coconut oil or unsalted butter for greasing pan
  • 1 cup creamy, unsweetened, unsalted almond butter, raw or roasted (or use unsweetened sunflower butter for a nut-free cake)
  • ⅓ cup pure Grade A maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon fine ground sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼” cubes (about 1 ½ cups)*
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (or you could use raisins)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9-inch pan or an 8- or 9-inch round pan. If you want to remove the cake from the pan in one piece, line it with unbleached parchment paper as well. You do not have to grease the parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl combine the almond butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, egg, vanilla, and baking soda until smooth.
  3. Stir in apple pieces and nuts or raisins.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake until just set and a toothpick comes out clean or with dry crumbs. Do not overbake. A 9 x 9 pan will take 35-45 minutes. An 8 x 8 pan will take 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
I like the chunks of apple in the cake, but you can also use 1½ cups of shredded, peeled apples (about 2-3 medium apples.)

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  1. SOOOO yum. Who knew you could make a delicious cake without any kind of flour. Was skeptical but really obsessed with this recipe, thanks so much.

    • I knew this cake was a winner the moment the hubs approved it! Glad you enjoyed it, Carlee!

  2. Pamela,
    I made this cake this afternoon. It’s delicious! Only problem is I’m having trouble keeping away from having a little taste every hour.
    Thanks again for another wonderful recipe!

    • That’s usually the case when I make this cake lol

  3. Making this tomorrow. Can I use a loaf pan? Thanks!

    • I haven’t tried it, so I don’t know how it would turn out as a loaf. I think it may be a little flat.

  4. Can you make this in a Bundt cake pan? How long would that cook for?

    • Probably, but it’s not going to be very high like a traditional bundt cake. I would guess you would cook it a bit longer, but since I haven’t tried it in a bundt pan, I really don’t know.

  5. NM! I just saw someone else already asked my question! Best!

  6. Just checking- can I make this the day ahead or best the morning of?

    • Either!

  7. Hi Pamela,
    Can I use almonds in this recipe?


    • Sure! But feel free to skip the added chopped nuts if you wish.

  8. Hi Pamela
    I would like to try making this cake and the chocolate zucchini one and would use sunflower seed butter due to a nut allergy- however I’m wondering how to proceed as the sunflower seed butter that I buy is very dry and thick (the same when I’ve tried to make my own) and the recipe specifies creamy almond butter, so if making it with the nut free alternative sunflower seed butter, would I need to thin out the sunflower seed butter first? Many thanks in advance.

    • Ok, first of all, know that sunflower butter and baking soda will have a chemical reaction which will cause the batter to be green. Not harmful, but the apple cake will look green-ish. The chocolate cake you probably won’t be able to tell. I would blend all the ingredients (except zucchini, apples, chopped nuts and chocolate chips) in a food processor. If you think you need to add a tablespoon of avocado or olive oil, go for it.

      • Many thanks Pamela, I’ll give it a try.

  9. Hi Pamela
    Can I make this 1 day ahead and if so, what is the best way to store it? In the fridge? I’m covered apples will make it soggy? Thanks

    • It will be wonderful after it has been refrigerated, not to worry. Just keep it covered.

  10. Hi Pamela, I’m hoping to make this cake for Passover and I would like to be able to give some to my baby to try. She is allergic to egg. Is there anything you would suggest as an egg substitute? Thank in advance!

    • Try a flax egg. It works in my chocolate zucchini cake and this recipe is based on that one. 🙂 For 1 egg, mix 1 Tablespoon ground flax meal with 3 Tablespoons warm water. Allow to sit at room temp for 10 minutes before adding to the batter.

      • Thank you so much! Happy Passover!

  11. I did not have any almond (or cashew) butter on hand today — and to be honest, to get good organic nut butters is quite expensive. I have made this apple cake MANY, MANY times using raw or roasted almond butters or cashew butter. It is one of my family’s favorites and a must-have for ALL holidays – whether for dessert or to have with coffee or tea during the day. I do not add nutmeg or raisins so keep it just with apples and nuts – usually walnuts or pecans. I was able to make the cake today using blanched almond flour and melted unsalted grass fed butter. I make 2 cakes at a time (usually freeze one) and used 3 cups blanched fine ground almond flour (NOT packed, just scooped from the bag) and 3/4 cup melted unsalted butter. If you needed to be dairy-free, you can use coconut oil in place of the butter, but I have to say that the butter added a richness that I will not be giving up any time soon!
    We love this recipe and it was great to be able to come up with an alternative to buying the nut butter to enjoy it! 😀 Happy New Year!

    • How wonderful to know a great alternative to this cake using almond flour. Thank you for sharing and happy new year!

  12. If I wanted to add Almond Flour to the recipe, how much of it would I use ??

    • I’m really not sure since I haven’t ever tried it that way. I would only be able to guess with no guarantees.

  13. Made this for new years eve–So so so good & easy to make! Kids loved it too.

    • I mean, good and easy – what could be better?! Thanks for the feedback, Laken!

  14. What if I add an extra egg or xanthan gum? Thinking the egg could make it puffier, the xanthan gum could help it hold together. Also wondering if I could add cranberries for a holiday touch. So much possibility here!

    • Hi! Not sure why you would want to add anything to this batter. It holds together really well and it puffs like a regular cake!

  15. This cake was perfect for an afternoon bridal shower two days after Thanksgiving. Sweet but not too sweet. Perfectly accompanied by coffee and a little coconut whipped cream. Will make again! Thanks for another crowd pleaser Pamela!

    • Mmmmmm with coconut whipped cream — so perfect for a fall bridal shower!

  16. Can I use a flax egg instead? Looks yummy!

    • I think it’s worth a try! It should work.

  17. Super delicious! I used cashew butter instead. My kids loved it.

    • Great to know cashew butter works!

  18. This tasted great but did not slice well at all, it was very crumbly. I followed the recipe exactly- what could have gone wrong?

    • Hmmm…..My guess is that your almond butter was really dry (was it well mixed? Had you drained off any oil?) Or maybe the egg was omitted unintentionally? Also, with grain-free cakes, it’s a good idea to allow them to cool before slicing. It’s hard to say since I wasn’t there, but this was a recipe I taught in my cooking classes, which means I tested it a bunch of times and then taught it in a minimum of 16 classes, usually 2 cakes per class, so I know the recipe works.

  19. I so enjoyed this, as well as the zucchini chocolate cake. They’re both great cakes for doing with kids as well, as they’re one-bowl and you don’t have to feel bad about anything you’re feeding the little ones! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • I’m so glad. Both are so popular with my kids and they’re friends, and quite easy. Happy holidays!

  20. Does this have a texture more like a pudding than a cake? Do you think it would still be good after two days in the fridge? Have you had success freezing it?

    • No! The texture is like cake! Maybe the cake seems a little lighter and less dense than normal cake. But it is spongy and airy like cake, nothing at all like pudding. It can last for up to a week in the fridge and it freezes very well. 🙂

  21. How far ahead can I make this and still receive rave reviews?

    So glad I stumbled upon your blog.


    • I would say a day ahead is still good. The apples can make the cake a little soggy after a day, at which point you can refrigerate it.

  22. I just happened to check your site for a dessert recipe and bam I saw this apple cake and had all the ingredients for it. This cake was really good and super easy. Thanks for another great recipe!

    • Wow! Love that! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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