Grain-Free Apple Cake

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but there are four kinds of cake I cannot resist:



white wedding cake with white buttercream frosting


my dad’s Christmas fruit cake


my Sitti’s chocolate cake


dense, chewy, cinnamon-y apple cake

My favorite apple cake of all time is this retro recipe from 1973 called Teddie’s Apple Cake. The description of the cake from The Times is almost as delicious as the cake itself:

“… if you look back in The Times archives at recipes from 30 or more years ago, when most people cooked every day, there were many more cake recipes. Cake was something you whipped up every couple of days, after the previous one vanished to crumbs.

Teddie’s apple cake, which appeared in The Times in 1973, is a typical standby of the period. None of the ingredients are difficult to find — most are probably already in your pantry — and the cake is designed to stay fresh for no more than a few days. Based on oil rather than butter, it creates a light, airy crumb that’s delicious while it lasts, with walnuts, raisins and slivers of apple threading the cinnamon-scented dough. There is no icing, and no need for one.”

I’ve made the original version of this cake a few times, and to me, it’s the perfect apple cake. A little dense and not too sweet, it’s sturdy and unfussy; somehow, it seems to taste better as time goes on.

Last year, I made this grain-free version and was delighted with the result. I’m not a skilled baker, so this is my first/best attempt at translating a traditional recipe into grain-free status. Keep in mind that this is not a light, airy, supermodel of a cake. It’s the reliable friend who’s always there for you. The comforting cup of tea you choose instead of the multi-layered, fluorescent-colored, specialty shot at happy hour. A hunk of love on an old-fashioned china plate.

This cake is kind and true and simple and delicious. I hope you like it.


Grain-Free Apple Cake

Serves a lot | Prep 20 minutes | Bake 60 minutes

  • coconut oil and coconut flout to prepare the 9-inch tube pan (or bundt pan)

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut oil, melted

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar

  • 5 large eggs at room temperature

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour (about 6 ounces by weight)

  • 3/4 cup coconut flour (about 3.5 ounces by weight)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 3 cups tart apples (Honeycrisp or Granny Smith), peeled, cored and thickly sliced

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

  •  1 cup raisins (optional)


Preheat oven to 325F. Butter and flour (with coconut flour) a 9-inch tube pan (or bundt pan). Beat the coconut oil and sugar together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment while assembling the remaining ingredients. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.


In a large bowl, sift together the almond flour, coconut flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir into the batter on medium-low speed. Add the vanilla, apples, walnuts, and raisins; stir until just combined.


The batter is quite thick (and luscious!). Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; I checked mine at 45 minutes and it was almost done. Cool in the pan before turning out. Serve at room temperature with whipped coconut cream.

NOTE: I’ve made this cake three times, and each time it’s looked a little different. Baking with almond flour is still tricky for me. This year, my cake came out pretty dark, but it still tastes awesome. Just keep that in mind as you’re going about your baking business.


Whipped Coconut Cream

This requires a bit of forethought: place a can of coconut milk in the refrigerator, ideally overnight, but 3-4 hours will do. DO NOT SHAKE THE CAN AT ANY TIME DURING THIS PROCESS.

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


When you’re just about ready to eat dessert, put the can of coconut milk, a metal mixing bowl, and beaters from the mixer in the freezer for 15 minutes.


When the coconut milk is cold, turn the can upside down, open it with a can opener, and pour off and discard the watery liquid. Scoop the thickened coconut milk that remains in the can into the chilled mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract. Whip on your mixer’s highest setting until the milk is fluffy and has taken on the texture of whipped cream, about 5-7 minutes. Marvel at the creaminess!


Dollop on whatever your heart desires. But start with the apple cake.

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  • I swear you’re in my head. I was just yesterday gazing longingly at a picture of the apple cake I used to make, wishing.

    Formthe record, Apple cake is about the only cake I find exciting. The ones with frosting just don’t do it for me.

    Thank you Mel! Also, I made Green Beans with Sizzled Garlic from Well Fed 2 tonight. Holy Helmet they were off the charts delicious.

  • Nina says:

    THANKS for including weights too!!! Us europeans are usually confused by cup measuring! :))

  • DJDeeJay says:

    Since you love fruit cake, I thought I’d pass on Nigella’s gluten-free version:

    It’s amazingly moist and delicious and my whole family, none of whom are Paleo, loved it.

  • Heather says:

    Does it have to be a tube pan? Will anything else do? I don’t have one and this cake sounds amazing!!!


    • Mel says:

      I haven’t tried it in another kind of pan. Because the batter is VERY dense, I’m not sure it will work in another type of pan — MAYBE a 13X9, but you would be experimenting.

      The tube pan heats the center of the cake and helps cook it through, which you won’t get in a pan without a hole in the middle. You might try cupcakes?

      • Cindi says:

        Bundt pan is not a good substitute. My cake stuck and broke in half (the top half stayed in the pan…bottom ended up on the plate). But it is still amazing and delicious.

        Need to watch the time a little more closely too.

        Thanks Mel!

    • Gigee Fagerstrom says:

      I used to make an almost identical, but sugar-grain-gluten-filled apple cake in regular and mini loaf pans and it turns out just fine.

      I am definitely trying this version! Thanks, Melissa, for paleo-fying this recipe and sharing it with us!

  • Melinda says:

    I made this today in a 13×9. It only took about 50m to bake and was quite brown on top, so I’d probably test it around 40m next time. I subbed lard for coconut oil and used dried cranberries and pecans for the raisins and walnuts. (I suck at following recipes.) It tasted amazing and was very moist. My only issue is that it didn’t stick together (maybe the lard?) and fell apart in the bowl. However, the taste more than made up for that. Thanks Mel!

  • Colleen says:

    I made it with a bundt cake pan and it turned out well, just had to grease the pan a little extra. This cake far exceeded my expectations (not sure why because all of Mel’s food is amazing!) of a paleo treat. It was moist, fluffy, with incredible flavor. What a fantastic find!! My husband usually turns down fruit cake or bread, but he couldn’t stop raving about this! WIN 🙂

  • Kris says:

    Would I be able substitute honey for coconut sugar?

    • Mel says:

      You can substitute honey, but it will change the flavor a little bit, and you need to make some other adjustments.

      Some people use it in a 1:1 ratio — that is, the same amount of honey as sugar, but other people prefer 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup of honey per cup of sugar.

      Lower the oven temp about 25 degrees F to prevent over-browning and add an additional 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of honey to your batter.

      • Coreena says:

        I made this with honey yesterday and I used one cup honey and reduced the oil to one cup. I made no other changes and it came out perfect!!

  • Saundra says:

    I’ve wanted a recipe for an apple cake They are my favorite! Thanks for sharing one.
    Do you have a print button …. or am I missing it?

  • Kimberly says:

    I made this for our Christmas dessert this year and everyone LOVED it, wanted seconds, thirds etc. The only substitution I made was to use white sugar instead of coconut sugar (significantly de-paleofying it, I know, but it was for a major feast day and all).

    • Mel says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the cake! And honestly, coconut sugar is only marginally better than white sugar, so feel free to substitute anytime. Happy holidays to you!

  • Diane says:

    Hi Melissa! I made this cake yesterday and although I had a brain fog moment and used baking powder rather than soda it is still amazing…..crumbly but oh so delicious!!!! Thank you for your baking genius. Next time I’ll use the soda; I hope it’s as good 😉

  • Jess says:

    Hi Melissa 🙂 Made this cake last weekend as a treat for myself and it was amazing! Even my “not so paleo” boyfriend loved it! I also just bought both of your cookbooks to have on hand in the kitchen at all times! Thanks for thinking up all of this marvelous deliciousness!!

    • Mel says:

      I made this cake for Xmas Eve, and man! I can’t get enough of it. Glad you liked it, too! Thank you for buying our cookbooks… happy cooking to you!

  • Christine says:

    Great Cake ! Made 3. One for my daughter and her husband. Second for my other daughter’s boyfriend family. Third for us. Well I take that back made 4. My sons ate it up. So I made another because I only got a small piece.LOL

  • Hey, thanks for the recipe, my wife made it in aq bunt pa and it is really god, we are doing a 30 day Paleo reset and it hit the spot. So how bad is the calorie and fat count on this?

  • Suzanne says:

    Looks amazing! I can’t have nuts or seeds…have found a 50/50 ratio of coconut flour to tapioca flour makes a great flour. Any clue what the amount would be if I substituted? Many thanks, can’t wait to try.

    • I’m sorry! I have no idea off the top of my head — I’d need to experiment with those flours to figure out how to make it work. Baking is tricky science, so, as you probably already know, you can’t just guess. I’d need to make several batches to get it right. You’re probably better off looking for a nut-free apple cake recipe that already exists.

  • Amber says:

    What if I don’t have a mixer with a paddle? Can I still make the cake?

  • John Winnett says:

    I made the cake and it all went great until starting to take it out. Upon turning the cake over, it broke into a ton of pieces. Has anyone else had this problem? It was very frustrating.

    – I sliced the apples thane cut them into smaller pieces. Anyone else leave them just sliced?

    • I had that happen once, too. Sorry you had that experience. Next time, at the end of the prescribed baking time, reduce the heat to 200F and let it sit in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. You can cover the top with foil if it’s getting too brown.

  • Linnea says:

    Thanks for posting this! I’ve been making Teddie’s Apple Cake every holiday season since I was 7 years old. When I went GF in 2007, I started making it gluten-free with Pamela’s baking mix (works great). Am on Whole30 this month, but plan to eat paleo-ish for a while afterward. Will have to give this a try!

  • Meredith says:

    Melissa: have you ever made these in mini loaf pans (like the 3″ puppies you can get on the baking isle of the grocery store)? I’m trying to make mini-loafs/treats for my Everyday Warrior team members and this looks like a great treat. Thanks!

  • Christine Whittington says:

    This cake is just amazing! Love love love it. I had to bake it an extra 15 minutes, which may have had to do with altitude–we are at 10,200 feet here in Leadville, Colorado. Other than that it worked very well, as is usual with denser cakes, cookies, breads, and muffins. We had it for breakfast with the coconut cream and some goat cheese and cheddar (no, not paleo).

  • Lin says:

    I’m allergic to all things almond. Any other suggestions for flour mix!