This vegan apple crumble cake is moist and fluffy and is topped with a pecan cinnamon streusel! It comes together in just 1 bowl with less than 10 ingredients.
This cake is a reader favorite on Rainbow Nourishments and can easily be made gluten-free, refined sugar-free and nut-free.
Ingredients you'll need
This vegan apple crumble cake uses a few common ingredients including:
Notes about the ingredients
Apple, grated very coarsely or chopped finely. Similar to carrot cake, small pieces of apple gives the cake more flavor compared to chopped apples. I recommend using a sweeter variety such as Fuji or Gala. If you prefer a more tart cake, you may use Granny Smith apples. The apples can be peeled or left unpeeled, depending on what you prefer with texture!
Brown sugar, coconut sugar or granulated sugar. I recommend brown or coconut sugar as they give the cake depth of flavor. For a less sweet cake, use coconut sugar.
Dairy-free milk. I recommend using a full-bodied milk such as soy milk or oat milk as they tend to make cakes more tender. However, any milk will work!
Apple cider vinegar (optional, not pictured). When an acid is added to cakes, it helps tenderize their crumb and makes a lighter fluffier cake. Alternatively, you can use white vinegar or lemon juice.
Pecans or walnuts for extra crunch and flavor in the crumble topping! Or, you can simply omit them.
Even though this apple crumb cake has no eggs, you don't need any special egg replacers!
A complete list of ingredients, quantities and instructions are in the gray recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Tips for preparing the cake batter
The vegan apple crumble cake comes together in one large bowl! This is how you make it:
- Whisk all the dry ingredients until combined.
- Add all the wet ingredients and fold until just combined. The batter should be thick and hold its shape but be pourable.
- Keep the same bowl for the crumb topping because it saves you from washing extra dishes 😉
The batter for the apple cake is quite thick but don't worry, the cake will not taste dry! The moisture from the apples leaks into the cake during baking, so the final cake is very moist.
How to prepare the crumble topping
Simply mix all the ingredients in a bowl until there are no chunks of flour or butter. I like using my fingertips as the butter melts slightly which helps bind all the ingredients.
I've also included a healthier crumb topping that is refined sugar-free and oil-free (see the notes of the recipe card). The healthier version is crunchy and slightly chewy due to the liquid sweetener.
I also topped my vegan apple crumb cake with thinly sliced apples, inspired by the design of German Apfelkuchen. It's a quick and easy way to make a cake presentable! However, you can also top the cake with:
- Cubed apples. This makes the cake easier to slice!
- Shredded coconut
- Pecans or other nuts by themselves
The baked cake is beautiful as is. However, for a special touch, dust the top with powdered sugar or drizzle a simple powdered sugar icing over it. It will make your morning or afternoon coffee even more special!
Top tips to make a FLUFFY apple crumb cake
First, make sure your apple is NOT grated too finely otherwise it could make your cake too moist! If your apple is very juicy, you may need to add more flour to your cake batter (details are in the notes of the recipe card below).
Second, I'd recommend using grams when measuring out your ingredients!
Finally, make sure your oven isn't too hot. If your oven has heating elements on top, the pecan streusel topping may brown quickly. If you can see bits of the topping starting to brown or burn, tent your cake pan with aluminum foil, or cover your cake pan with a large oven-safe bowl (as long as it doesn't touch the cake). Also, reduce the oven temperature by 10°C (50°F).
Can I make this cake gluten-free?
Yes! I've tested this vegan apple cake with the following gluten-free flour combinations:
- A high-quality 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 50% almond flour and 50% gluten-free all-purpose flour (my top recommendation) OR
- 50% almond flour and 50% fine white rice flour.
I recommend using my vegan apple muffins recipe instead. The ingredients are similar to this recipe but the quantities are suited for a 12-cup muffin pan.
Yes, for extra crunch, you can add chopped walnuts and pecans to the cake itself. For extra flavor, try adding some ground ginger, cardamon or even nutmeg!
To take this coffee cake to the next level, you can also add a cinnamon swirl! Check out the swirl recipe from my pumpkin coffee cake recipe (it's a pumpkin version of this apple cake recipe)
Instead of all-purpose flour, you can use spelt or whole wheat flour. The cake will be denser but still fluffy! Also, I recommend using coconut sugar instead of brown sugar!
I haven't tried it myself but a few of my readers said they have successfully replaced oil with unsweetened applesauce in this recipe.
More vegan apple desserts
Vegan Apple Crumble Cake
Dry ingredients for the apple cake
Wet ingredients for the apple cake
Crumb topping (note 3)
- ⅓ cup (35g) pecans, chopped
- ¼ cup (30g) all-purpose plain flour, or gluten-free all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons (30g) vegan butter, margarine or coconut oil, softened
- 2 tablespoons (25g) packed brown sugar, coconut sugar or regular sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 x (180g) medium-size apple, sliced thinly
To serve (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease or line an 8-inch (20 cm) springform or loose-bottom cake pan with parchment paper.
Make the vegan apple cake:
- Add all the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix until there are no lumps.
- Add all of the wet ingredients to the bowl and mix until just combined. The batter should be thick. Scoop or pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top with a spoon or spatula.
Prepare the crumb topping:
- Using the same bowl (or a smaller clean bowl), add all the ingredients for the topping. Mix with a spoon or your fingertips until combined. There shouldn't be any chunks of butter or flour.
Assemble and bake the cake:
- Arrange the thinly sliced apple on the top of the cake in 'fan' shapes or as desired. Sprinkle the crumble in the gaps on top of the cake.
- Bake the apple crumb cake for 55-60 minutes. If the crumble topping is browning too quickly, tent the cake pan with aluminum foil or cover the pan with an oven-safe plate. The cake is ready when you can insert a toothpick in the middle and there is no wet batter on it. The cake is very moist so a few crumbs on the toothpick are fine.
- Rest the cake in the cake pan for 10-15 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and allow it cool entirely on a cooling rack.
- If desired, dust the cake with powdered sugar. Enjoy with dairy-free yogurt, vegan ice cream or/and a cup of coffee.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 day, in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
- For a gluten-free vegan apple crumb cake, substitute the plain flour for a good quality 1:1 gluten-free flour OR 1 ½ cups (150g) almond flour and 1 cup (160g) gluten-free all-purpose flour.
- This cake will be too moist if you grate the apples too finely. Ideally, the grated apple shouldn't leak any juice. If your apple is extra juicy, use an extra 3 tablespoons (25g) of flour in the recipe.
- For a healthier crumble, use the same amount of pecans, flour and cinnamon but combine it with 1 tbsp of maple syrup (instead of the sugar and butter). Mix all ingredients until there are no pockets of flour or syrup then crumble the mixture on the cake.
This post and recipe was originally published in 2019 and updated in 2021 with a video, more detailed pictures and an easier crumb topping. The original healthier crumble is in the notes!
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