Winter is Coming — Apple Spice Layer Cake with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Frosting [Dairy-Free]

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. I am thankful that although winter is coming, it is not quite here. Thankfully, it’s still months away!

Apple Spice Layer Cake with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Frosting

We’re just being greeted by Autumn — with her cool evenings, sunny days and breathtaking colours. It also means apple season is here and it’s time to take advantage of something else Autumn has brought us. Crisp, fresh and flavourful apples.

This apple cake was inspired by many attempts to make the right apple cake over past autumns. Then last fall, Nagymama (aka Emma and Katie’s grandmother, my mother) mentioned how she had *the* one. Well, now we really have the one — our go-to apple cake filled with all sorts of goodness and missing a few other things – namely nuts and dairy.

This cake comes together very quickly and is incredibly moist and delicious on its own (the way G and I like it) or with the frosting (the way Emma and Katie like it). It’s a perfect ending to Thanksgiving dinner or any Fall dinner you have planned. And it’s the perfect excuse to go apple picking and enjoy the sunny days and breathtaking colours before winter’s arrival.

[Dairy-free] Apple Spice Layer Cake with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Frosting

inspired by my mother and Martha Stewart
(serves 10-12)

For the cake:
  • 2 1/2 cups spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp ground kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted + 1 tbsp for the pans
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 medium Royal Gala apples, washed, peeled, cored and shredded

For the frosting:

  • 3 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, softened
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp gold shimmer sugar (optional)

Lightly grease two 8″ round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and salt. In a large bowl, beat together the maple syrup, 1/2 cup coconut oil and the eggs.  Stir in the shredded apples and mix until well combined.

Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix until the flour has become entirely incorporated. Do not overmix. Pour the batter evenly divided  across the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 35-45 minutes in the preheated oven until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. The cake will be starting to pull away from the sides of the cake pan.

Cool on rack in pan for approximately 30 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and remove the parchment paper.  Turn the layers right side up and cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the brown sugar, icing sugar, Earth Balance, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Using the whisk attachment, mix at low-speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the frosting starts to come together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then mix at medium-high speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute until creamy.

When the cake is cool, place the first layer of the cake on to a cake plate. Using an offset spatula, spread 1/2 cup or so of the frosting over the top of the layer. Place the second layer on top of the frosted layer and spread the remaining frosting on the tops and sides of the cake. Sprinkle top with gold shimmer sugar, if using. Refrigerate for one hour to allow the frosting to set. Cover lightly with plastic wrap until ready to serve.  Remove from refrigerator and let the cake come to room temperature before serving.

Tips and Suggestions:

  • This cake is perfect for a make-ahead dessert.  You can make the cake layers and frosting days in advance. Just wrap/seal them in airtight containers and refrigerate. When you’re ready to assemble the cake, take the frosting out of the fridge ahead of time to warm up. Then assemble the cake. Or assemble the cake, wrap and refrigerate. The cake will be fine at least one week refrigerated.
  • If shredding the apples by hand and you have some small chunks left over, just add them into the batter. They’ll soften just fine during baking.
  • This cake is wonderful without the frosting too. And, without the frosting, it is dairy-free, wheat-free and refined sugar-free.
  • For those who prefer a smoother frosting, use 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar rather than the proportion listed in the recipe.
  • For those not concerned about dairy, substitute 1/2 cup butter and one 250g package of cream cheese for the Earth Balance in the frosting.

I shared this recipe on TidyMom‘s I’m Lovin’ It Party.


  1. Pingback: Experience 5: Baking Apple Cake | a hectic life

    • ‘Tis the season for apples! I hope you enjoy it — btw, I noticed on your site that you’re vegan. I’m pretty certain you can use an egg substitute (I haven’t tried it yet, but intend to) to make the cake entirely vegan. I’d love to hear if you try it, and how it works out!

  2. Pingback: 2013 Thanksgiving Roundup – Part One | Food Bloggers of Canada

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