Welp, it was 40 degrees when I woke up this morning, and there are a few nights where it’s supposed to drop into the 30s this week. If this was the worst it was going to get and it was only going to last a couple of months, I’d say “whatever” and maybe even embrace the change (maybe). But, that is not how winter works in Boston. It’s going to be five months of relentless gloomy skies and frigidness, which is why every October Aaron and I have long talks about moving to Southern California* and I go all-in on baking in the interim (because carbs). I haven’t made a single thing with pumpkin this Fall (I know. Am I even a real food blogger?!), but I did make this vegan apple cider donut cake!
This simple apple cake came to be because Aaron and I have a yearly apple-picking tradition for our wedding anniversary, where we drive an hour outside of the city to an orchard in Groton, MA and get to pretend we’re country folk for an afternoon (it’s not actually the country—more like the suburbs with a bit of extra land). Last year I used some of our apple haul to make baked apple cider donuts, and this year I just couldn’t stop thinking about apple cider cake in a pretty bundt pan with crunchy cinnamon sugar topping sprinkled all over. In hindsight, I now realize that this cake is basically one GIANT apple cider donut. (You’re welcome.)
I love this recipe because it’s only 10 ingredients and it takes 10 minutes to prep and 35 minutes to bake. I used my very easy homemade cashew yogurt to replace some of the oil (any plain, non-dairy yogurt should work) and I also experimented with different versions using coconut oil, avocado oil, and extra virgin olive oil.** All three tasted great, but I personally find coconut oil to be annoying this time of year because it wants to be a solid when I need it to be a melted-but-not-hot liquid. You can get around this by gently warming your coconut oil and making sure your other ingredients are room temperature to prevent it from solidifying; I prefer the ease of just pouring in avocado oil (which tastes like nothing) or extra virgin olive oil (which isn’t neutral, but I like the flavor). If you want to be even more authentic and indulgent, you could melt some vegan buttery spread and use that instead.
While the cake itself is only a little sweet thanks to the apple cider and a bit of coconut sugar, I went full-on traditional with the topping: crunchy cane sugar + cozy cinnamon, as it should be. And if you aren’t too cold for ice cream, you can’t go wrong serving your cake a la mode.
*In our ideal situation, Aaron and I would split our time between Boston and Newport Beach (and Sonoma? Why not.), but in the real world, these places are beyond expensive. We’re finally getting our act together and working with a financial advisor who’s helping us play out the various scenarios. Hopefully we can work towards a decision instead of being those people who complain about winter while living somewhere that’s winter half the time.
**We have a boatload of cake at our house right now. I froze the extras for safe-keeping although I’m not confident that will be much of a deterrent…
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup apple cider
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the pan
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar
- ⅓ cup plain non-dairy yogurt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons organic granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- non-dairy vanilla bean ice cream (optional, for serving)
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a bundt pan with olive oil and set it aside.
- In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt. Add the apple cider, olive oil, coconut sugar, yogurt, and vanilla. Stir until combined, being careful not to over-mix. The batter will be on the thicker side.
- Transfer the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away from the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let sit in the pan on a cooling rack until completely cool.
- While the cake cools, prepare the topping: In a small mixing bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
- Remove the cake from the pan (if it doesn't come right out, you can use a small rubber spatula or knife to gently go around the edges of the pan to loosen any stuck sides). Carefully transfer the cake onto a serving plate. Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve with a scoop of non-dairy vanilla bean ice cream, if you like.
I've tested this recipe with coconut oil and it works well. I prefer extra virgin olive oil (or avocado oil) when the weather is colder, since coconut oil tends to solidify. If you use coconut oil, it should be melted but not hot. Make sure your other ingredients (flour, apple cider, etc.) are room temperature when you mix in the coconut oil.
The cake can be stored covered at room temperature for a couple of days, or in the fridge for up to a week.
Recipe lightly adapted from my Vegan Apple Cider Donuts.