This vegan apple cake is the perfect cozy recipe to use up fresh apples. It’s the fluffiest, tender cake topped with a sticky pecan glaze. Enjoy it for breakfast like a sticky bun or for dessert with a scoop of your favorite dairy free ice cream. All you need is 10 simple ingredients!
One of my favorite parts of making sticky buns (which I desperately need to share a recipe for) is the pecan glaze. A glaze is just so decadent, perfectly sweet, and perfectly nutty from the pecans. It’s such a comfort food for me.
When I was recipe testing this cake, I made it a couple of times with a cinnamon sugar streusel topping. And while it was good, it wasn’t doing it for me. It was always too sweet and it just doesn’t have the same indulgent feeling as a glaze.
The way this glaze bakes into the top of this apple cake is seriously perfect.
Why This Recipe Works
- The indulgence of sticky buns without having to wait for yeast to rise.
- Grated apple folded into the batter results in delicious apple in every bite.
- Sifted flour into the cake makes for the lightest, fluffiest batter!
What You’ll Need
A few key notes
- Fresh Apples – I love using a combination of honey crisp and granny smith apples for a balance of sweet and tart.
- Vegan Yogurt – Makes this cake extra creamy and replaces traditional buttermilk.
- All Purpose flour – I don’t recommend trying to substitute any other flour. All purpose keeps this cake extra light. Whole wheat or any gluten free flour will likely make this cake extra dense.
- Vegan Butter – Provides a little saltiness and keeps this cake extra moist!
- Flax Eggs – Bind this cake together like traditional eggs!
Step by Step Instructions
- Line your casserole dish with parchment paper and spread the chopped pecans in.
- Pour the glaze overtop the chopped pecans and spread in even layer.
TIP: It is very important you use a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the dish. After baking, we are going to flip this cake upside down so the glaze is on the top, and without the parchment paper this will be impossible.
The Cake Batter
This cake batter is very simple to make and will come together within a couple of minutes. I recommend having all of your ingredients measured before you start. The longer the batter sits, the more dense and deflated your cake will be because the baking soda will lose activation.
- Add the light brown sugar, melted vegan butter, flax egg, unsweetened vegan yogurt, and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl.
- Mix until well incorporated.
- Sift in the all purpose flour. This cake batter is pretty thick and is not as runny and pourable as most other cake batters you’ve likely worked with. Sifting in the flour helps prevent over mixing.
- Fold the flour gently into the wet ingredients until just combined.
- Add in the grated apple. I don’t recommend using diced apple or large chunks. These will sink to the bottom during baking and disperse the apple unevenly in the cake.
- Fold the grated apple gently into the batter. This batter will be thick, but it should not be dry at all!
Last, spread the batter overtop the glaze.
I like to do this by using a cookie scoop and placing scoops of batter overtop the glaze and then lightly spreading together with a baking spatula.
Once your cake has baked, allow it to cool in the casserole dish for 5-10 minutes, or until the butter is no longer audibly sizzling.
Use as light of a hand as possible to prevent pushing the batter into the glaze.
Slide a knife around the edges of the cake to ensure it is not stuck to the sides and place a cookie sheet on top of your casserole dish.
With oven mitts (the casserole dish is HOT!), carefully flip the casserole dish upside down so the sticky glaze is on top.
The longer you allow it to cool the easier it will be to slice but I recommend enjoying a piece warm with vegan ice cream or coconut whip!
I recommend storing this cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Refrigerating this cake will make it dense.
Yes, that should work. Coconut sugar does not melt as well as brown sugar so you may find the granules more pronounced in your cake but I think that would be a fine substitution!
I have not tested it, but it should be okay as long as you make sure to use room temperature vegan yogurt. Consider adding a dash of salt to the cake batter as well to balance the sweetness. I think avocado oil or any neutral oil would also work well.
- Fold gently when combining wet and dry ingredients. Seriously. Over mixing or whisking it together quickly will leave you with a very dense, very gummy cake.
- Coat the grated apple in 1 tablespoon of flour. Before adding the grated apple to the batter, I recommend coating it in a tablespoon of flour. This will prevent it from sinking to the bottom of the casserole dish and evenly disperse it throughout the batter!
- Use more parchment paper than you think you’ll need. If you use too little parchment paper, the glaze is likely to seep underneath it and therefore not stick to your cake at all. Using enough to also slightly cover the sides of the casserole dish will prevent this.
- Serve with vegan ice cream or a scoop of coconut whip!
More Vegan Dessert Ideas
- Vegan Chocolate Mug Cake
- Vegan Pumpkin Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Filling
- Flourless Brownie Bars (no bake)
- Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Vegan Apple Cake with Sticky Pecan Glaze
Apple Cake Batter
- 1 granny smith apple - grated (about 1 cup lightly packed)
- 1 honey crisp apple - grated (about 1 cup lightly packed)
- 2 ½ cups flour - plus 2 tablespoons (328 grams)
- 1 cup vegan yogurt - unsweetened (room temperature)
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 5 ½ tablespoons vegan butter - melted (about ⅓ cup)
- 1 flax egg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ sticks vegan butter - melted
- 1 cup pecans - chopped
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, Fahrenheit.
- Grate the apples with skin, then toss grated apple in two tablespoons of flour to coat. Set aside in a bowl.
- Prepare the flax egg by mixing together 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 2 ½ tablespoons water. Set aside.
- Line the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish with a piece of parchment paper.
- Prepare the glaze my simply mixing together the brown sugar, melted butter, chopped pecans and cinnamon.
- Pour the glaze mixture into the bottom of the casserole dish.
Measure out all the cake ingredients ahead of time so you can prepare the cake quickly. If the batter sits too long it will be difficult to mix and the cake will deflate in the oven.
- In a large mixing bowl, add in the light brown sugar, melted vegan butter, flax egg, room temperature vegan yogurt, and vanilla extract. Fold ingredients together until combined.
- Sift in the baking soda and flour and fold gently into wet ingredients. Avoid fast movements or the dough will get tough.
- Lastly fold in the grated apple until just combined. The batter will be thicker and not runny.
- Spread the cake batter over top the glaze in the casserole dish and gently spread it until fully covering the glaze.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5-10 minutes.
- Lastly slide a knife around the edges of the cake, put a cookie sheet over top the casserole dish and with oven mitts, carefully invert the cake so the sticky glaze will be on top.
- Peel off the parchment paper from the glaze and slice the cake. Enjoy plain or with coconut whip or vanilla ice cream.
- Store leftovers at room temperature for 2-3 days.
- I use these vegan butter sticks. They are great for vegan holiday baking!
- How to easily spread the cake batter overtop the glaze: I like to do this by using a cookie scoop and placing scoops of batter overtop the glaze and then lightly spreading together with a baking spatula.
- Use enough parchment paper. If you use too little parchment paper, the glaze is likely to seep underneath it and therefore not stick to your cake at all. Using enough to also slightly cover the sides of the casserole dish will prevent this.
- Over mixing or whisking this batter together quickly will leave you with a very dense, very gummy cake.
- Using room temperature vegan yogurt will result in a lighter, fluffier cake batter.
General note about salt
Please pay attention to the type of salt called for in the recipe (if applicable). Not all salts are made equal and cannot be substituted 1 for 1. If you are substituting table salt for kosher salt, you will need to cut the amount called for in the recipe by at least half.
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Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
This recipe was originally published on November 5, 2020 and has been updated on March 3, 2021 to include step by step photos and instructions, FAQs, and Expert Tips. The recipe remains the same.