Ever have a recipe inspiration based upon a single ingredient? Something you just know in your taste buds will be incredible … you just have to figure out how to pull it off? Well that’s what happened for me with this cake. I just knew that apple butter (or pumpkin butter!) would make an ordinary cake exceptional, and that it would bring buttered caramel frosting to the next level.
The base for this apple-butter-inspired cake is something called a “War Cake”, “Depression Cake” or “Wacky Cake.” During the Great Depression and times of war, eggs, milk and butter were scarce, so crafty cooks baked cakes without. I used olive oil in my version — I love its yummy health benefits, and that it subtlely imparts a warm, savory flavor in baked goods. I’m sure you could use your favorite vegetable oil instead, if you prefer.
While this allergy-friendly cake lacks traditional cake ingredients (butter, milk and eggs), it lacks nothing in taste or texture. Serve this gluten-free, vegan gem at your next gathering and welcome everyone to to the party!
Apple or Pumpkin Butter Cake
- 1/4 cup apple butter (make your own) or pumpkin butter
- 3/4 cup very warm water
- 3 cups Jules Gluten Free™ All Purpose Flour (405 grams)
- 1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 2 cups unrefined coconut palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350° F (325° F convection).
Oil two 8-9-inch cake pans or oil the sides and line with parchment circles.
In a small bowl, whisk together apple butter and very warm water. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the Jules Gluten Free Flour, baking soda, spices and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil, vinegar and vanilla together. Add dry ingredients and mix slowly while adding the apple butter-water mixture, stirring until fully integrated. Stir in pecans, if using.
Evenly distribute batter between the two cake pans and bake for approximately 30 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes will come out clean when the cakes are done, and they will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan a bit.
Remove to cool on wire racks for 20 minutes, then gently turn out to completely cool. Frost with your favorite frosting, or my Buttered Caramel Frosting, below.
Buttered Caramel Frosting
- 1/3 cup butter or non-dairy alternative (Earth Balance® Buttery Sticks)
- 1/2 cup unrefined coconut palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
- 1/3 cup + 1 Tbs. apple butter (Musselman’s® Apple Butter)
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1-2 Tbs. milk, dairy or non-dairy
- 3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1/2 pecans, chopped (to garnish)
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the coconut palm sugar and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves. Slowly add the apple butter and bring to a boil.
Transfer to a metal mixing bowl and refrigerate until fully cooled. Once chilled, whisk in vanilla, 1 tablespoon of milk and confectioner’s sugar. Beat until creamy (add more milk, as necessary for frosting to be spreadable).
Spread evenly over cooled cake, or just on the cake tops for the cake as pictured. Sprinkle chopped pecans over the top, if desired.