Gluten-Free Gravenstein Apple Cake

A trio of simple gluten-free flours and fresh Gravenstein apples layered into a tender gluten-free apple cake makes for a delicious late summer treat.

Gluten-Free Gravenstein Apple Cake

My girls have returned to school, giving me the opportunity to pack their lunches with healthful options like naturally sweetened mini banana muffins and lower sugar chocolate chip cookies (I need to do these last as gluten-free cookies) and I’m holding myself to it for the remainder of the academic year. But then the weekend arrives and I’m ready to bake something a bit more decadent, a bit more sweet and satisfying. This apple cake — which is actually not too sweet, is, in fact, just sweet enough — certainly fits that requirement.

This is a rich, tender, buttery cake that is unique in that it has a layer of thinly sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon coconut sugar in the middle. That is topped with another layer of vanilla-scented cake and finally topped with more apples and cinnamon. You could claim that this cake is perfect for fall, but while fall is one of two of my favorite seasons I’m not willing to give up summer just yet. I think a cake like this could be served from here through mid-winter. You could also change up the spices as the year progresses — ginger or cardamom for the cinnamon would be lovely.

The flours here are three that work beautifully together: oat, almond, and tapioca (see substitutions below), with the oat flour bringing whole grain heft, the almond flour moisture, and the tapioca to balance and keep the cake from being too heavy. To make this cake dairy-free, substitute 1/2 cup coconut oil at cool room temperature for the butter and switch in coconut yogurt for the sour cream.

Here’s to summer.

Til next time — N xx

What You’ll Need for Gluten-Free Apple Cake

  • Unsalted butter
  • Sugar or maple sugar
  • Eggs: Use large eggs
  • Oat flour: This delicious whole grain gluten-free flour makes cakes fluffy
  • Almond flour: Choose almond flour rather than almond meal
  • Tapioca flour:  Brings lightness and binding to gluten-free cakes
  • Baking powder
  • Fine sea salt
  • Apples: Use your favorite baking apple
  • Coconut sugar
  • Ground cinnamon

Tips for Success

  • Let batter rest for at least 15 minutes before baking. Gluten-free flours really benefit from a rest to let them absorb liquids.
  • Bring ingredients to room temperature before using.
  • See “Notes” section following the recipe for substitution suggestions.

How to Store

To store, wrap the cake well with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for 3 days.

Gluten-Free Gravenstein Apple Cake

Firm, slightly tart apples are best in this cake but you could use any that you have. This recipe is inspired by Ina Garten’s fresh peach cake; the sour cream makes the batter lusciously smooth and rich.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10 servings


  • ¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup maple sugar or cane sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups/140 g gluten-free oat flour
  • ½ cup/70 g almond flour
  • ½ cup/70 g tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp fine grain sea salt
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 lbs/16 oz. apples of choice (I used Gravensteins), peeled, cored and thinly sliced


  • Butter a springform cake pan and line with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, using an electric or stand mixer, cream together the butter and maple sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, beating well to incorporate fully. Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Keep the mixer on low and slowly add the dry mix to the batter. Mix until well combined.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the coconut sugar and cinnamon.
  • Spread half of the batter in the prepared pan, smoothing it with a rubber spatula. Top the batter with one-half of the sliced apples and sprinkle with two-thirds of the coconut sugar/cinnamon. Spread the remaining batter on top, again using the spatula to smooth the top. Place the remaining apples on top and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Let the batter rest and hydrate in the pan while the oven heats. Then place the cake in the oven and bake for 55-65 minutes, checking frequently after 55 minutes. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, the top of the cake is set and slightly springs back when pressed, and the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.
  • Cake will keep, well wrapped in the fridge, for up to 5 days. I find it tastes best at room temperature or slightly warmed.


Oat flour substitute: Try sorghum flour
Almond flour substitute: Try ivory teff flour or buckwheat flour
Tapioca flour substitute: Try sweet white rice flour or arrowroot
Keyword gluten-free
nicole spiridakis © copyright 2023