Vegan Caramel Apple Crumb Cake

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A decadent vegan caramel apple crumb cake, featuring a fluffy spiced cake, juicy caramel apples, and buttery pecan streusel.

slices of caramel apple crumb cake on plates

This vegan caramel apple crumb cake was created a few months ago for my dad’s birthday. I was originally planning to make a caramel apple pie (to use up my leftover homemade caramel), but I realized I didn’t have enough vegan butter and didn’t have time for a homemade butter to set. But I was determined to have that juicy apple filling, so I decided to put it in a cake. Or rather on a cake. I basically took my pie idea and switched out the bottom crust for cake and the top crust for a crumb topping. Honestly, I was afraid the toppings would be too heavy, sink into the cake, and yield a slightly undercooked center. But with a lot of research, effort, love, and a slightly longer time in the oven, this deliciously decadent cake was born (and gobbled up in about 24 hours).

close up slice of caramel apple crumb cake

How to Make

There are three different components to this cake: cake, apple filling, and crumb topping. The number of steps may look daunting, but don’t be intimidated! This cake doesn’t require any fancy techniques, just a bit of time and patience.

Crumb topping: Mix all the dry ingredients together, then cut in chunks of softened butter or pour melted butter over and mix to incorporate the butter. Just mix until all the flour is hydrated. Chill in the fridge while you prep the rest of the cake.

Apple filling: Toss apples with spices, lemon juice, and caramel.

Cake: Mix dry and wet ingredients separately, then fold together to form a batter. Pour into a lined cake pan, top with apple filling, and sprinkle crumb topping all over. Bake at 350°F for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Caramel Apple Crumb Cake FAQ

How do I store caramel apple crumb cake?
Because this cake contains a lot of fresh apples, I recommend storing it covered in the fridge. But if you live in a very cold environment, you may be able to leave it covered on the counter for ~24 hours.

Can I make it gluten-free?
I haven’t tested a gluten-free version of this cake, but you can try replacing the flours with a gluten-free flour blend (I recommend Bob’s Red Mill*).

What if I don’t have caramel?
You can make my 2-ingredient vegan caramel, or omit the caramel and toss apples with 2-3 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp melted vegan butter (optional).

slice of vegan caramel apple cake on a plate

Tips for Success

Crumb topping with melted butter vs softened butter Melted butter creates a finer, more crumbly streusel. Softened butter will yield more chunks. The photos in this post show a crumb topping made with melted butter. You can see the topping is a bit more grainy and messy (but still delicious!). Typically I opt for softened butter/coconut oil for crumb toppings, but my butter was frozen and I heated it in the microwave because I didn’t have time to let the butter soften.

Switch up the fruit! I think this cake would be delicious with pears, raspberries, or peaches!

Tent the cake with foil after 40 minutes ⟶ This cake bakes for a long time due to all the heavy toppings. If you notice the crumb topping browning too much (usually around the 40 minute mark for me), place some foil over the cake to prevent burning.

caramel being drizzled on a slice of caramel apple cake

More Vegan Cakes!

vegan caramel apple crumb cake slice close up

If you try out this caramel apple crumb cake, don’t forget to leave a comment/rating down below and tag me in your photos on instagram @ellielikes.cooking. I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!

Vegan Caramel Apple Crumb Cake

A decadent vegan caramel apple crumb cake, featuring a fluffy spiced cake, juicy caramel apples, and buttery pecan streusel.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 8

Ingredients

Crumb Topping

  • 60 grams (½ cup) all purpose flour
  • 40 grams (3 tbsp + 1 tsp) brown sugar
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • 60 grams (½ cup) chopped pecans
  • 50 grams (¼ cup) vegan butter or coconut oil softened**

Apple Filling

  • 2 medium apples coarsely chopped
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup vegan caramel**

Cake

  • 80 grams (½ cup + 2 tbsp) all purpose flour
  • 80 grams (½ cup + 2 tbsp) whole wheat flour**
  • 30 grams (¼ cup) cornstarch
  • 35 grams (3 tbsp) granulated sugar
  • 35 grams (3 tbsp) brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 120 ml (½ cup) soy milk
  • 60 grams (¼ cup) applesauce
  • 50 grams (¼ cup) neutral oil (avocado, canola, vegetable)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8" cake pan with parchment paper.
  • Crumb topping: In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans. Add in chunks of softened butter/coconut oil (or pour over melted butter/oil) and mix just until all the flour is hydrated. Avoid over-mixing or the topping will become pasty. Place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the cake.
  • Apple filling: Place chopped apples in a large bowl and toss with cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and caramel. Mix until the apples are evenly coated with caramel.
  • Cake: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, cornstarch, sugars, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and baking soda.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk milk, applesauce, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and use a spatula to fold the ingredients together to form a thick batter.
  • Assemble cake: Pour cake batter into your lined cake pan. Spread apple filling on top and sprinkle the crumb topping all over.
  • Bake: Bake for 60-70 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Check the cake around the 40 minute mark. If the crumb topping is browning a lot, tent the cake with foil to prevent burning.
  • Cool: Place the cake pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Optionally, you can drizzle with extra caramel sauce before serving.

Notes

Softened vs melted butter for crumb topping: Softened butter will create more chunks. Melted butter will yield finer crumbs. 
Caramel: I used my homemade vegan caramel. If it’s firm from being in the fridge, microwave for about 10 seconds to soften. 
Whole Wheat Flour: I enjoy the flavor combo of apples and whole wheat flour, but you can replace the whole wheat flour for more all purpose flour. 

*Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, but the price remains the same to you. Thank you for supporting Ellie Likes Cooking!

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