Luscious Gluten-Free Apple Cake

This is definitely one of my favourite recipes.  It’s based on a recipe I found in delicious. magazine where it’s called Dorset Apple Cake. It converts really well to gluten-free and, as it’s so moist, I like to call it my Luscious Apple Cake.  The recipe calls for cooking apples, but if you don’t have them, eating apples are fine.  I also made it once using plums.  I guess you could use all sorts of fruit, pears, peaches, whatever you have handy.  But in any case, the best bit is definitely the crunchy demerara sugar on the top.

I think this cake is best served warm straight from the oven with cream or ice cream.  It’s just as nice cold the next day, or you can easily warm a slice for 15-20 seconds in the microwave.

For those who don’t like or can’t eat nuts, just leave the ground almonds out. Also the original recipe says to drain the apple pieces, I never do, I just put it all in, maybe it helps to counteract the dryness of the gluten-free flour and keep the cake moist.  I don’t think it makes it too lemony. I also like to add a teaspoon or so of mixed spice to lift the flavour.

Something else to note, I’ve made this cake loads of times and I’ve never noticed until now it says to dredge with caster sugar when you remove it from the oven.  Personally I think the demerara sugar is quite enough!


  • 225g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 450g Bramley apples
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 225g caster sugar, plus extra for dredging
  • 3 large eggs
  • 225g gluten-free self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Grease a deep 23-24cm springform cake tin and line with baking paper. Peel, core and cut the apples into 1cm pieces, and toss with the lemon juice.
  2. Cream together the butter, caster sugar and lemon zest in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, adding a little flour with each addition to keep the mixture smooth.
  3. Sift the remaining flour and the baking powder into the bowl and fold in with the ground almonds and mixed spice. Stir the apple pieces into the mixture.
  4. Spoon into the prepared cake tin, lightly level the top and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until well-risen, brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the cake starts to look a little too brown, cover with a sheet of baking paper after about 45 minutes.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the tin and place on a serving plate. Dredge heavily with the extra caster sugar.
  6. Cut the cake into generous wedges and serve warm with a spoonful of clotted cream, if you like.
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28 Responses to Luscious Gluten-Free Apple Cake

  1. classyrose says:

    Hi Debs, I don’t have celiac disease but I do have Crohn’s with a gluten intolerance that comes and goes. The recipe certainly sounds delicious and I understand your reasoning on the apples. I’ve tried some store-bought gluten-free breads and they are quite dry even when buttered.

    Just might give this recipe a try. Thanks 🙂

    • LilacDebs says:

      Hi ClassyRose – do give it a try, you won’t regret it. Regarding the store-bought breads, have you tried refreshing them in the microwave before eating? Just 10 seconds per slice is usually enough. Make sure you put the bread on some kitchen towel.
      Hope this helps and good luck with the baking.

  2. I have decided to go on The Primal Diet. Absolutely no gluten. This recipe brightend my day… I can have cake!

    • LilacDebs says:

      That sounds exciting – and hard work. Is this the diet where you eat like a caveman? Any as you say at least you can have cake. There’s plenty more cake recipes that you can make without gluten. I’ll be putting some more links up on my blog soon as well as some more cake recipes. Can you have eggs/butter?

  3. Peter from Horsham says:

    Made the cake yesterday, turned out really well. Am now planning to try with cherries and will let you know how I get on.

    • LilacDebs says:

      Hi Peter, glad you enjoyed it. Were you thinking fresh/tinned cherries or glace? Mmmmmm just imagining what it would be like made with big black juicy cherries – I have some in the cupboard, excellent idea!!

      • Peter from Horsham says:

        Definitely fresh cherries but not looking forward to taking all the stones out. We have a gadget that is supposed to do that automatically but I stil get in a horrible mess!! Also I may wait a few weeks as fresh cherries are very expensive at the moment.

  4. Frances Brock says:

    I was delighted to spot your recipe – and will certainly try it!( I’ve been using a super GF flour ‘Bob’s Red Mill’ all purpose baking flour, sold at Waitrose – it’s really good, and has an unusual selection of flours in it – including sorghum, garbanzo bean, and fava bean flour. If you’re not sure, eat a little slice, just to make sure the bean-flours agree with you – I discovered I am allergic to Teff flour – which a wondeful for many coeliacs – so it pays to be careful when trying new things!)
    Thank you for taking the trouble to share this recipe.

    • Debs says:

      Thanks for taking the time to send in your comments. I think this is a fantastic recipe and hopefully you will too. My daughter loves it warmed in the microwave with ice cream. I’m pretty happy using Dove’s flour, but thanks for the suggestion. It’s good to know there are other options out there.

  5. Alana Boulton says:

    This is absolutely the most lovely apple cake I have ever made, gluten free and non-gluten free. May I recommend it with creme fraiche and scoop out a passionfruit and chuck that on top. Divine.

  6. Kate says:

    Hi, great to find your blog. Im trying my husband on a gluten free diet, hes had digestive problems for,years and although the docs cant fathom it, ive looked up his symptoms and giving this a try. The 2 things he misses are my Delia apple cake so this is a godsend, but id really love it if you could help with any pastry recipes for his other favourite of apple pies or crumbles! Thankyou! Kate x

    • Debs says:

      Hi Kate, I’m glad you like it. I do have a really good pastry recipe and am thinking of posting it pretty soon on the webiste. Why don’t you sign up for the email notifications, then when I post it, you won’t miss it.
      Good luck with sorting out hubby’s problems. Debs 🙂

      • Kate says:

        Thanks Deb have done that and going to try the cake tonight! I tried a gluten free recipie off the internet for coconut cookies yesterday and they were so dry i had to throw them , trying like for like with gluten free flour instead of self raising normal! I guess not all recipies can just be substituted?! Look forward to hearing your pastry recipie thanks! Kate x

        • Debs says:

          Hi Kate. I made this cake last night as we had visitors. I put half apple and half plums in and extra mixed spice. It was lovely. Biscuits are slightly more tricky than cakes and whilst you can more or less substitute GF flour, it tends to soak up the liquid more, so you need to use a little less, or a bit more liquid. And never throw biscuits away unless they are really burnt – make chocolate fridge cake with them! Another recipe I hope to post soon 🙂

          • Kate says:

            Well its out of the oven and looks and smells gorgeous so im a happy bunny, just for the taste test later! The plum mix sounds yummy! Believe me these biscuits i made had to be thrown, i used my rock cake recipie which i substitute the saltanas for coconut and add some to the flour mix too, but they completly stuck to the roof of your mouth and were incredibly dry and tasteless so ill look on for any coconut recipies or rock cake for him gluten free! Im going to sit and go through your blog taking down tips while i eat my slice of cake later, such a great blog!! x

  7. Kate says:

    WOW just eaten the cake and can honestly say this,is so much better than my usual Delia recipie ! It is much lighter, hubby loves it woohoo big success! Try it everyone its delicious , i had mine with clotted cream, he had it,with custard!! So tomorrow, cake and tea when it is cold!!! Thankyou! Xx

  8. Chris says:

    Tried this recipe yesterday and it really is the most delicious and moist apple cake recipe. New to gluten free cooking I tried it with trepidation but was very pleasantly suprised. We wrapped the half that was left over in tin foil and stored it in the fridge overnight and it was even more luscious today. My husband is just about to finish it off with his afternoon coffee.

  9. Chandra says:

    Amazing! Everybody at work loved it and many had second helpings. It is light and fluffy and moist. I have actually added a handful of cranberries to it and because I had a not so great looking clementine, I added that too. I am sure adding half an orange would have a similar effect, making the cake really fresh. I made this cake because it is suitable for somebody allergic to gluten and subsituting butter with margarine makes it lactose-free. Thank you very much!

  10. Kathy G says:

    I am planning to make this cake in a Nordic Autumn Wreath Bundt mould – should be about the right size – for a McMillan Nurses Cancer appeal Coffee morning later in the month. Will it freeze do you think?

  11. Linda says:

    Thanks Debs, great recipe! I didn’t have a lemon so added maple syrup to keep it moist – delicious, warm and cold with cream! I had a lot of baking apples given and wanted something new to try. Great to find such a good Coeliac friendly site!
    Thanks again.

  12. Debbie Clendon says:

    What a great recipe, used Doves flour with great results. Such a light and gorgeous tasty apple sponge. Will definitely make again.

  13. Jane Currah says:

    Just made one of these for tomorrow’s McMillan coffee morning in the village. I had to taste it, just to make sure it was ok. It is absolutely delicious. The texture is perfect. Thank you for sharing your recipe xx

  14. Sandy says:

    I am sensitive rather than allergic to gluten, and am also a Type 2 diabetic, so I made this using Dove’s gluten free flour and Truvia (baking blend) so it was gluten and sugar free, apart from the natural sugars in the fruit! I also added a teaspoon of cinnamon as well as the mixed spice, some raisins and a splash of apple juice as I know you often need a little more liquid when using gluten free flour. The result was a lovely light and fruity apple and raisin cake, which is very moreish!

  15. lis says:

    I just made this cake as|I have a bramley apple tree and I’m getting bored with pies. I’m a coeliac but my daughter isn’t, we’ve both been back for seconds, yum.

  16. Brian Sowerby says:

    My wife and I use the Aga cooker which calls for a variation in method for this excellent recipe – because of the long cooking time. We used the recommended Cake baker which means the cake, in its tin, is cooked within a bigger tin, a sort of Dutch Oven.
    We followed the recipe and cooked it for an hour; lifting the lid we found the cake had risen but was pale on top and a thin knife blade came out sticky. We left the lid off and put cake baker and contents back in the baking oven for 20 minutes.
    A beautiful cake resulted with the texture we have grown use to, not the seedy sludge that commerce would hand out to us. Thank you.

  17. Lyndsay Vaughan says:

    I’m coeliac & always looking for great recipes. Especially if they say to use a flour mix, without having to have all the tapioca, rice, potato, maize, buckwheat flours myself & using different variations in different recipes.
    I’ve made this cake twice now, & it’s delicious!! Really straightforward to make & so light, & tasty. My sister asked ‘are you sure this doesn’t have gluten in it?!’
    I made slight alterations – I cut the apples into slightly bigger pieces, I used salted butter & just cinnamon, as I only had these. I also used Doves gf self raising flour & their baking powder.
    Thank you so much for posting this!!

  18. Glynis says:

    I am going to try this recipe. Someone asked about whether the cake freezes well but there has been no reply. I’d be really interested to know. There are just the two of us and, rather than eat a whole cake, I’d rather freeze half for another time.

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