Coconut Oil: The Key to Vegan Baking
Baking is so connected in many people’s minds with eggs and butter, that it’s hard to imagine how a delicious, moist cake can be made without. I’m here to tell you it can be done! I’ve made both vegan and non-vegan versions of this cake, and everybody agrees—they are both delicious.
What’s my secret to vegan baking? The first one is coconut oil. Coconut oil is prized by vegan bakers, and for good reason—it’s a fabulous butter replacement. Like butter, it has a high melting point (solid at temperatures up to 76°F), which means that it can be used in recipes that require a solid fat (think pastry crust and scones). In this Apple Cake recipe, I use coconut oil in its liquid form, but it still serves here as a butter replacement.
Apple Sauce as a Binder
Another vegan baking tip is the use of apple sauce. Apple sauce can often be used to replace eggs, because it helps bind ingredients together much like eggs do in many baking recipes. Mashed bananas serve this function too, but apple sauce is the right choice for any apple-based recipe like this cake.
You can use store-bought unsweetened apple sauce, but I like to make my own—it’s easy to do! Use about 1 cup of cut up apple chunks and about a ½ cup of water. Cook them together on medium heat until soft, then blend with and immersion blender or Vitamix until smooth. There will be a bit more than what is needed for the apple cake, so store what you don’t use.
Sheet Pan or Bundt Pan?
This recipe can be made in either a sheet pan or a Bundt Pan. I’m showing the sheet pan recipe here, because it is a little bit simpler, and because it’s easy to serve up small portions for a large crowd. The Bundt Pan version is a more elegant presentation, which matters sometimes. If you use a Bundt Pan, then use grated apples (instead of chunks) and bake the cake for about 10 minutes longer.
Step By Step Instructions
Start by preheating the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease your pan of choice. In this recipe I chose to use a sheet pan. Next peel and core the apples. I like to use a mix of sweet and tart apples, though any kind of apple will work well. This is a great recipe to use with apples that have been on the tree or in the cupboard for a while and are no longer as crip as they first were. These apples, which tend to be softer and sweeter, are perfect for baking! Peel and core the apples, then dice them into about 1/2 inch chunks. If you are making the Bundt Pan version, then you will grate your apples at this stage.
Next, chop the nuts into small pieces. I use a mix of nuts, as they each add their own flavor and texture. In this case I used a mix of pecans, almonds and walnuts—but you can use whichever nuts you like, or omit the nuts altogether. Don’t chop these too small—the larger pieces will give the cake a nice crunch.
Next, in a large bowl, measure your flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. This is where you can substitute gluten-free flour. You can also substitute alternatives to cane sugar if you prefer. I like to use a mixture of half cane sugar, half coconut sugar. The coconut sugar will give you a mildly sweet and rich cake.
Whisk all dry ingredients together until they’re blended well.
Now pour in the melted coconut oil (Dr. Bronner’s Organic Coconut Oil, of course!), apple sauce and vanilla. Stir until combined. This dough will be very stiff, not like most cake batters. But don’t worry—the fresh apples will create a lot of moisture as the cake bakes, which is why a stiff batter works so well in this recipe.
Next, fold in the diced apples and nuts. You may have to use your hands to get them incorporated—it’s my favorite part of making this cake 😊
Now you’re ready to press the batter evenly into your pan. Bake for 45 minutes is a sheet pan or 55-60 minutes in a Bundt pan. How will you know the cake is done? The color should be a nice golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. You can use a wooden skewer for a Bundt pan.
Making the Magic Caramel Sauce
In a small pot, add the vegan butter (Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter is my favorite) and sugar of your choice. Heat over low to medium heat until the butter melts. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir constantly using a whisk. Continue to for boil 2 minutes. Add the coconut cream using a whisk. Once the coconut cream is blended and the mixture is hot, remove from heat.
If you’re using coconut sugar and the sugar is having a hard time dissolving, put the hot mixture into a blender or use an immersion blender. If using an immersion blender, this step can be done directly in the pan.
Now you’re ready to serve!
Drizzle caramel over a barely warm sheet cake and spread using a spatula. If using a Bundt cake, let cake cool almost completely and let caramel cool about 15 minutes to thicken up before drizzling. This will prevent it from running off the cake.
You can top with coconut whipped cream or vegan ice cream!
Vegan Apple Cake with Magic Caramel Sauce
- 3 cups organic all-purpose flour
- 2 cups organic cane sugar (coconut sugar can be used)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp pink sea salt
- 1 tsp organic ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp organic ground cloves
- 1 cup Dr. Bronner’s Organic Coconut Oil (no substitutions😊)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tsp organic pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups organic peeled diced or grated apples
- 1 cup organic chopped nuts (optional)
Magic Caramel Sauce
- 1/2 cup vegan butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp coconut cream (any milk substitute can be used but won’t be as rich)
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly grease your pan. For this recipe I chose a sheet pan.
- Peel and core apples. Dice apples into half inch chunks (grate for Bundt cake).
- Chop the nuts into small pieces.
- In a large bowl, measure the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt.
- Whisk all dry ingredients together until they’re blended well.
- Pour in the melted coconut oil, apple sauce and vanilla. Stir until combined. This dough will be very stiff, but the apples add moisture.
- Fold in the diced apples and nuts.
- Press the batter evenly into your desired pan.
- Bake for 45 minutes is a sheet pan or 55-60 minutes in a Bundt pan. Color should be a nice golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. You can use a wooden skewer for a Bundt pan.
While the cake is cooling, it is a good time to prepare your Magic Caramel Sauce.
Magic Caramel Sauce
- In a small pot, add the vegan butter and sugar of your choice.
- Heat over low to medium heat until the butter melts.
- Bring to a boil and stir constantly using a whisk. Continue to boil 2 minutes.
- (Skip this step if you are using cane sugar) If using coconut sugar and sugar is having a hard time dissolving put hot mixture into a blender or use an immersion blender. If using an immersion blender, this step can be done directly in the pan. If using a blender, the mixture will go back into the pan for instruction number 5.
- Add cream using a whisk. Once cream is blended and mixture is hot remove from heat.
- Drizzle caramel over a barely warm sheet cake and spread using a spatula. If using a Bundt cake, let cake cool almost completely and let caramel cool about 15 minutes to thicken up before drizzling. This will prevent it from running off the cake.