This applesauce cake is super moist and tender, and needs just one bowl to whip up! No oil, no dairy, and no eggs are needed, but you’d never tell- It’s healthy and wholesome!
Applesauce, to me, is one of life’s magic ingredients. It’s an essential ingredient for healthy baking and is often used to replace butter and oil. It keeps baked goods moist and tender, and cuts down on the sugar needed, thanks to its natural sweetness.
This applesauce cake recipe is the (literal) proof in the pudding. It’s super moist and fluffy in the middle and has a tender crumb. It’s naturally sweet and for such a tender cake, you’ll love how it only contains a small amount of plant-based butter. Furthermore, the applesauce intensifies the cinnamon flavor!
What I love about this cake is that it is the PERFECT use of homemade applesauce– This recipe calls for TWO full cups!
Ingredients to make this recipe
- Flour– Either all purpose flour or whole wheat flour. If you’d like this recipe to also be gluten free, be sure to use gluten free all purpose flour. I tried this with Bob’s Gluten Free 1:1 flour successfully. I cannot vouch for other brands of gluten free flour.
- Baking soda and baking powder– Both leavening agents are used to give the cake some rise and fluffiness.
- Cinnamon– A must for any recipe calling for applesauce, AND it is a fabulous Fall flavor.
- Milk of choice– I used unsweetened almond milk, but any milk will work.
- Vinegar– Vinegar is used because it curdles when mixed with the milk, and replaces the need for any eggs. I used white vinegar, but apple cider vinegar should be fine too.
- Unsweetened applesauce– Be sure to use applesauce that is 100% unsweetened. There are plenty of brands that have added sugar in them, so double check to be sure.
- Sugar of choice– White sugar, brown sugar, or coconut sugar all works, as do sugar substitutes.
- Butter OR vegan butter– To keep this recipe vegan, I used vegan butter. Be sure to use butter from a block, not a spread, as they generally contain no added fillers or water. Again, if you follow no specific diet, traditional butter is fine.
- Vanilla frosting– Optional, but I can never say no to frosting! I used a simple cream cheese frosting.
How do you make an applesauce cake?
Start by mixing together your dry ingredients and set that aside. In a separate bowl, add your milk, vinegar, applesauce, sugar, softened butter, and whisk until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes, so the vinegar is able to thicken the mixture. After 5 minutes, add the dry mixture and mix until combined.
Now, grease two 8-inch cake pans and divides the batter between the two. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out just clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, frost the cake, if desired.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Oven makes and models differ. It took me 20 minutes to bake my cakes completely, but you may need 25-30 minutes. Do the toothpick or skewer test to see.
- You can use homemade applesauce, but be sure it is completely smooth and has a thin texture. If your applesauce is too thick, simply run it through a blender or food processor.
- Feel free to add more fall spices into the cake batter, like nutmeg, cloves, and even a touch of ginger.
- If you’d like to make a single layer cake, simply halve the ingredients.
Storing and freezing tips
- To store: If you don’t frost the cake, you can store the cake at room temperature. Keep it in a sealable container, with a paper towel on top. It will keep for 5 days. If you’ve frosted your cake, you must store it in the refrigerator. Cover it in plastic, and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- To freeze: Leftover slices of cake can be stored in a freezer friendly container and stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator.
Frequently Asked Questions
Traditionally, applesauce is used in cakes to replace butter, oil, or any other added fats. It keeps cakes moist and soft in the middle, without impacting the flavor whatsoever.
Depending on the recipe, applesauce CAN be used instead of butter in a cake. You can swap out equal amounts of butter with unsweetened applesauce.
Applesauce can be used in cake mixes to replace eggs, butter, oil, and water (like in a pumpkin cake).
- 3 cups flour all purpose, wholewheat, or gluten free
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 cups milk I used unsweetened almond milk
- 3 tablespoon vinegar
- 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
- 2 cups sugar white, brown, coconut, or sugar free subs
- 1 1/3 cups butter softened, dairy free or standard
- 1 cup vanilla frosting or preferred frosting
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans with cooking spray and parchment paper and set them aside.
- In a mixing bowl, add your flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, and mix well. Set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together milk, vinegar, butter, sugar, and the applesauce, until combined and glossy. Let sit for 5 minutes. Combine your wet and dry ingredients.
- Distribute the batter amongst the two baking pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out just clean.
- Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, layer the cake by adding frosting between them and on top.