The Best Gluten-Free Apple Cake for Apple Picking Season

There’s a chill in the air and the leaves are starting to fall, which means it’s time to go apple picking. If you have kids, this is a great way to get them out into nature for a day. In a time when so much of our food is packaged and processed and disguised, a good old-fashioned apple-picking trip is a fun way to give them a sense of where real, fresh food comes from.

Across the country there are “you pick” or “pick your own” farms where you can go and fill up baskets and bags with fruit and pay for them by weight. It’s a good, cheap way to spend a day, and everyone gets to stretch their legs in the fresh air. You can find your local “pick your own” farm at

Once you’ve gotten all of those beautiful apples back to your kitchen, you’ve got the happy dilemma of how to eat all of them. There are only so many apples you can eat raw—or, my favorite way, sliced and spread with peanut butter—so be prepared with some apple recipes. Apple pancakes and apple pie are two classics, but I’m a big fan of a grated apple cake. It’s so easy and with the small amount of sugar called for in the recipe, this cake is good not only for dessert, but for breakfast, too.

Because so many people are gluten free these days, this recipe uses gluten-free flour mix instead of regular flour. It’s widely available in natural food stores or can be found online.

Depending on what part of the country you live in, you may find several different varieties for sale in all shades of red, pink, yellow and green. What kind of apples should you get for this cake? Any variety will do, but if you choose a tart apple, add an extra quarter cup of sugar to the recipe.

Get picking and have fun!

Grated Apple Cake (gluten-free)

Makes 1 9 x 13-inch quarter sheet pan or baking dish, 24 2-inch squares


2 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour

1 cup organic cane sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 cup coconut oil, at room temperature

3 cups grated Honeycrisp or other sweet apples (about 4 medium apples)

Zest of one lemon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup ground walnuts, or chopped dried fruit

Confectioner’s sugar, for garnish (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Oil and flour a 9 by 13-inch quarter sheet pan.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, coconut oil, apples, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until the flour is no longer visible. Gently fold in the walnuts.

3. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking sheet and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack, and cut into squares. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top if desired.

4. Enjoy!

Louisa Shafia is the author, most recently, of The New Persian Kitchen, a book of healthy Mediterranean and Silk Road-inspired recipes. See Louisa’s cooking videos and her schedule of upcoming events at

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