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Gluten-Free Gingerbread Apple Cake


Let’s get this straight right now: baking with whole grain, gluten-free flour while avoiding dairy, refined sugar and eggs does not typically make for super moist, easy and delicious baking. Until now, my friends. This gluten-free gingerbread apple cake is soft, buttery and an amazing feel-good treat.

My recipes are pretty flexible in general. I like it when people can take a look at my recipes for inspiration and then adjust them to suit their tastes or to choose local and seasonal ingredients they can easily find at their local market or grocery store. With baking, however, we need to be a little more precise. And no one wants to have a mouthful of dry, crumbly cake.

This cake wasn’t dry at all. It was super moist, just sweet enough and way too good to have around the house. What was my secret weapon?

gluten-free gingerbread apple cake

Applesauce. I love using apple sauce in my gluten free baked treats because it works in three magical ways to make for baking success.

  1. Applesauce has a naturally occurring pectin, which acts as a binding agent to help with gluten-free baking.
  2. Applesauce has a natural sweetness to it, so less additional sweetener is needed.
  3. Apple is fibre-rich, which helps to hold in and retain moisture. This means it can also replace some of the oil in most recipes.

Something about using applesauce whether it be in muffins, pancakes, brownies or cake, always seems to do the trick. And it’s super easy to make your own! All you need is apples.

How to Make Homemade Applesauce

Here’s what you need:

  • Organic Apples: Any kind will work, really. Pick your favourite, or try a mix of varieties. How many apples you use will depend on how much applesauce you want.

What to do:

  1. Core the apples, then chop them into 1-inch chunks. No need to peel them if they are organic apples – there are tons of nutrients in the peel. Add them to a pot with a little bit of water, just so the apples don’t scorch as you wait for them to release their juices.
  2. Simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes, until the apples are cooked through and really tender.
  3. Mash the apples, or run them through your blender or food processor to get them super smooth.

Spice options: This is optional, but nice to give your applesauce some oomph. Try cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, ginger or star anise. Experiment and see what you like!

I prefer to make applesauce in large batches and then freeze it in mason jars to use in baking or to have on hand as a snack. Applesauce is lovely when sprinkled with hemp seeds or paired with coconut yogurt/kefir.

Other Reasons to Love This Gluten-Free Gingerbread Apple Cake

Applesauce isn’t the only reason why I love this gluten-free gingerbread apple cake. It’s packed with health-promoting ingredients, including:

  • Ginger: A highly anti-inflammatory herb that’s great for indigestion and nausea.
  • Cinnamon: This sweet spice is wonderful for balancing blood sugar levels.
  • Molasses: Molasses is a by-product of refining cane sugar, but unlike processed sugar, it is full of nutrients such as iron, magnesium and potassium.
  • Ghee: This is clarified butter, which removes the milk proteins and milk solids. It’s rich in easily digested fats as well as the Vitamins A, D, E and K. I ate a lot of ghee while pregnant and I think my baby Finn is 50% ghee.
  • Sunflower Seed Meal: This nut-free alternative is high in the antioxidant Vitamin E, along with magnesium which is great for helping our muscles and nerves relax. Sunflower seed meal in baking while sometimes turn baked goods green: this is a chemical reaction between the seeds and baking soda. The green-ness isn’t mold and is safe to eat. If nut allergies aren’t an issue, you can swap the seeds for almond meal.
  • Buckwheat Flour: This gluten-free flour is high in fibre, magnesium and a flavonoid called rutin, which helps lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease.
  • Chia Seeds: This egg replacement is a rich source of omega-3 fats, which are anti-inflammatory, and they contain fibre and bone-building calcium.

I love this cake because it is easy to make and is perfect for both the holiday season and all year round as an elegant dessert or snack. If you want to up your  gluten-free cake game, top this one with coconut whipped cream or cashew cream.


gluten-free gingerbread apple cake

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gluten-free gingerbread apple cake

Gluten-Free Gingerbread Apple Cake

  • Author: Meghan Telpner
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x



Dry Ingredients

  • ¾ cup gluten-free brown rice flour
  • ¾ cup gluten-free buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
  • pinch of clove
  • pinch of sea salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp chia, ground and mixed with 1/4 cup warm water


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Line cake pan with parchment or grease with ghee/oil and dust with flour.
  3. Mix together all dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl or blender, whisk/gently blend together the grated ginger, sugar, syrup, molasses, apple sauce, water vinegar and butter/oil.
  5. Mix wet into dry and add the chia paste.
  6. Pour into cake pan and smooth out with a spatula
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick, inserted into the centre comes out clean.


You may wish to use 2 cups of your own favourite gluten-free flour blend.

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins

What are some of your favourite baking substitutions?

37 responses to “Gluten-Free Gingerbread Apple Cake”

  1. Kristin Rugg Dovbniak ( says:

    Yum! I love using applesauce in baked goods too! What a delicious vegan version of my new-favorite cake :)

  2. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat says:

    This recipe sounds delicious! I also regularly sub apple sauce for butter, oil or margarine in recipes, as well as yogurt and other fruit purees. When it comes to dips and dressings that would normally use mayo, I’m all about the Greek yogurt!

  3. Monica says:

    Really mouth watering cake, gonna give a try. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Andrea says:

    Would any adjustments have to be made if I used spelt flour since its not gluten free? I have some I want to use up and this recipe looks delish!

  5. Jane says:

    Having trouble eating Chia seeds – may be my gallbladder trying to process the omega 3 fat. Since moisture is included with the Chia ingredient what can I use as a substitute that’s not fatty? Thanks much

  6. Jane says:

    Chia seems to bother me. What can I substitute for it?

  7. Jane says:

    What other ingredient can I use to substitute for the Chia? thanx

  8. Jen @ Existential Evolution says:

    Sounds grand! Can’t wait try out the recipe!

  9. Carolyn says:

    I made this in muffin form and it is delicious! I think this will be entered into my regular baking rotation.

  10. Ann says:

    Just had a slice if this cake and it is deicious!! Thanks for another recipe winner!!!

  11. Rose says:

    Made it this morning. DEEE-LICIOUS!! And it was a hit with the kids too. Will definitely be making these a lot this fall and winter.

  12. achircop says:

    I made this last night and brought it into work this morning. It is already GONE. My kids and hubby loved it too. I will definitely be making more tonight. I used the leftover pulp from your apple cider recipe (also amazing btw), added medjool dates (I didn’t use molasses)and the result was unbelievable and super moist! Thank you again for coming to speak at our firm yesterday as well!

  13. 20 Holiday Treats to Knock Your Stockings Off says:

    […] This cake is rich in spicy holiday flavours, spices that also add a super healthy dose of immune power. This is the perfect weekend afternoon cake to be served with a hot cup of tea. GET THE RECIPE […]

  14. Riley says:

    LOVE this one! I pull it out at every family gathering and no one can ever believe its gluten and refined sugar free. Great recipe!

  15. Sandy says:

    Sounds like a great recipe I can’t wait to try it. I’m trying to “print” a copy (via the print icon) but keep getting an error telling me that page is missing.

  16. Tanya says:

    Out of all gf flours I only have coconut and almond flour at the moment.
    Can I sub with those?
    Can I just grind up some brown rice and some buckwheat into flour? I have grinding Vx attachment, would that work? I am itching to try this! :)

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Unfortunately those are too drying and heavy to bake an awesome cake. You’d need loads of eggs which is essentially changing this recipe right up- so can’t really offer much guidance beyond that. Grinding whole grains or event nuts into a flour, won’t work as it will be too fiber heavy.

  17. Nanna says:

    Just did it this morning, tastes amazing, fits perfectly for the holidays. Just one question: do you think I can also bake it in muffin tins? Would be the perfect potluck food for the christmas party at the kids’ daycare. Thanks

  18. Kerry-Anne Pumphrey says:

    Hi, what size of cake pan – 8″ spring form???
    thank you

  19. Lindsay says:

    “dust with flower”! Hehehe! :-)

  20. sarah says:

    Do you think this could be made with a psyllium egg instead of chia? Any thoughts on the psyllium egg? Thanks!

  21. Kimberly says:

    I can’t wait to make this! I just joined your site and look forward to lots of learning. I’m “sensitive” to many foods but soy is the biggest. Is there any soy or wheat (this too bul leas than soy) in this recipe?

  22. amanda says:

    Do you have a sub for rice flour and the sunflowers. My husband is allergic.

  23. Tanya says:

    I’ve just baked the cake. I substituted sunflower meal with almond meal, and omit coconut sugar because I think molasses and maple syrop bring enough sweetness, to my taste. I haven’t tasted it yet. It looks and smells good. One thing that went off was baking time. My cake was not ready after 25 minutes. I baked it for an hour. I kept picking it with a toothpick. The toothpick was clean but I had a feeling the cake was still raw and sticky.

  24. Rowena says:

    This looks great. Can it be made ahead of time I.E. will it keep a couple of days? Or should I freeze it? Thanks

  25. Joyce motz says:

    Love these health food choices thank u so much for sharing

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