Apple Butter Cake

by autumn on December 4, 2011

I’m not great at middle ground. Either I’m going to say screw it and have macaroni & cheese and french fries for dinner or I eat a plate full of green stuff and whole grains. So, when I think of cake, I need layers, sprinkles, and big frosting or something that barely wants to be called a cake at all. I lean toward the former and this is the latter, but this cake didn’t last 48 hours in our house.

I made some apple butter from some crabapples and other apple odds and ends that were hanging out in the fridge too long. It turned out a little too sweet, so I didn’t can it, but knew it’d be great for baking. I found this spiced applesauce cake from smitten kitchen and because all the measurements were in grams, it was super easy to make gluten-free and dairy-free. (The weights of different types of gluten-free flours vary greatly, so the only reliable way to convert recipes is by measuring weight.)

This cake is springy, snack-able, and not too sweet. It’s completely acceptable for breakfast and if you’re the sort of person who totes a little treat around to get you through the day, then this is for you. Without frosting, it’s more portable, but you could top it with a simple glaze (maple would be awesome) or cream cheese frosting if that’s your thing.

Apple Butter Cake


  • 250 grams superfine brown rice flour blend*
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t xanthan gum
  • 113 grams Spectrum organic shortening, room temp
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 365 grams apple butter

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a 8 x 8 square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. Cream the shortening until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla and beat until completely combined.
  4. Beat in the apple butter.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and beat until fully combined. The batter will be very thick.
  6. Spread it into the parchment-lined pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

*I used Cybele Pascal’s flour mix, which is described here.


  • Adapted from here.
  • I relied on the spices in my apple butter to season the cake, but feel free to play around with more cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or a little bit of clove.
  • I didn’t add any sugar beyond what was in the apple butter. If you find the cake is not sweet enough, I’d dress it up with some frosting rather than adding additional sugar to the cake.


Autumn Giles is the creator of Autumn Makes & Does and the co-host of the Alphabet Soup Podcast.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kalinda December 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I agree with that approach. Especially when it comes to dessert. Healthy dessert just seems kind of sad to me.


2 Kate December 4, 2011 at 11:33 pm

I am also not great at middle ground. This looks wonderful, Autumn – and any cake I can have for breakfast is a plus in my book.


3 carrie @plums in the icebox December 5, 2011 at 3:13 pm

i’m still pretty obsessed with apples, even though fall is almost over. this looks delicious! i am largely GF and i usually just use a GF baking mix (i’m much more of a cook than a baker) but i’m intrigued by what you say about converting by weight. i am lazy, but i have to get fully on-board the GF baking train.


4 autumn December 6, 2011 at 11:25 am

Kalinda, Thanks! I agree totally. If it’s dessert, you’ve got to treat yourself.

Kate, Thanks so much. As far as I am concerned, you can have any cake for breakfast, but having this one is a little more responsible. 🙂

Carrie, I’ve definitely gotten into gluten-free baking nerd territory. You’ll get to a point when you realize a scale is worth the trouble (and it’s really no trouble at all). There’s a good article here that gets into why baking by weight will give you consistently better results, especially when converting gluten recipes to gluten-free: In this recipe for example, the volume of flour called for is 2 cups, but when I weighed 250 grams of my all purpose gluten-free flour blend, it was only about 1 3/4 cup.


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