Cox’s Apple Cake

For something more rustic, try my Chunky Apple Cake. This recipe produces a more refined GF cake, with an unctuously gooey, spiced cream cheese frosting.

But – if you don’t want frosting, I have alternate sweet topping suggestions in the footnotes, and as per the main picture.

Makes: up to 24 portions


For the cake:

  • 4 Cox’s apples (Russet or other eating apples will substitute), scrubbed
    (they should total 550-600g when weighed whole)
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, finely grated zest and juice
  • 380g gluten-free flour
  • 4 large eggs, separated (they should total 250-270g when weighed in their shells)
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder (if your GF flour is plain, not self-raising)
  • 200g cold unsalted butter, cubed; plus additional for greasing tin
  • 50g soft dark brown sugar
  • 140g soft light brown sugar (light muscavado or golden caster can substitute)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (or 5 seconds’ freshly grated nutmeg)
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 100g full-fat soft (i.e., cream) cheese, at room temperature
  • 50g unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, finely grated zest and juice
  • 300g icing sugar (sift, if required, after measuring)
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice


  • A standard traybake tin 9″ x 12″ / 23cm x 30cm (up to 24 square portions);
    or, a round cake tin 9-10″ / 24-26cm diameter (12-16 wedge portions)
  • Baking/parchment paper to line tin
  • Chopping board and sharp knife
  • A large-grain grater [optional]
  • Citrus [fine] grater, and citrus juicer
  • 2 large and 1 medium mixing bowls, plus small bowls for separated eggs
  • Electric mixer (hand-held or stand)
  • Spatula or large metal spoon, for folding
  • Cooling rack
  • Spatula or palette knife

Making the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C (160 C fan-assisted). Lightly grease your tin and line the bottom and sides with baking paper.
  2. Peel, core, and finely dice the apples (or ideally, grate them) into a medium bowl. Pour over the lemon juice, and toss well. Add 100g of the flour and stir well to ensure all pieces are fully coated – because coated fruit won’t sink to the bottom during baking.
  3. In the first large bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high speed as the colour and texture change.
  4. In the second large bowl, stir together the rest of the flour with the baking powder (if using) and lemon zest with a fork. Use your fingers to rub in the butter until the mixture is like breadcrumbs. Add the sugars and spices, and stir manually to thoroughly combine. Add the egg yolks one at a time, with the vanilla, stirring briskly between each addition. Add the apple – but don’t stir, fold or mix just yet.
  5. Add 1/3 of the egg whites, folding briskly, to loosen the mixture somewhat. Then add the rest of the whites, 1/3 at a time, folding carefully until no white lumps or streaks remain, and the apple is evenly distributed.
  6. Dollop the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, turning the tin halfway through for even baking, until the sides are shrinking back slightly from the tin, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove to a cooling rack, and cool the cake in the tin. (If using a springform tin, you can unclip and remove the ring after 20 minutes, to help the cake cool faster.)

Making the frosting:

  1. Beat the cheese, butter, vanilla, and lemon zest on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add the icing sugar and spices, beating continuously at low speed until smooth. You’ll want to scrape down the bowl really well several times.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and beat until combined. The consistency should be gooey – add more lemon juice if it’s too stiff for your liking. Leave in the fridge until the cake is cool enough to top.
  3. Spread the frosting over the fully cooled cake with a spatula or palette knife.

Alternative Toppings
A) You could very finely dice 1 peeled/cored apple, and create a spiced buttered caramel sauce. Simon Rimmer’s caramel recipe is straightforward and easy. (Add the apple pieces to the pan after the sugar melts, plus a pinch of the spices used in the cake, before bringing to the boil.) Drizzle over each serving.

B) Don’t want to make caramel sauce? Shop-bought butterscotch chips work a treat. Sprinkle 50g over the cake before baking, ensuring they’re evenly distributed. They melt down through the cake as it’s baking, giving a ‘toffee apple’ flavour to each bite.

C) Honeycomb pieces (also available in any supermarket baking aisle) are another good idea. Add in lieu of, or with, the butterscotch chips before baking. You can sprinkle some more just out of the oven for a decorative, tasty, and crunchy alternative to frosting.


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