Low-Fat Apple Cake
Make the most of apple season with this easy, low-fat apple cake. It’s perfectly moist, tender, and bursting with lemon flavor and fresh apple slices in every bite. The best part? It’s guilt-free, made without any butter or oil.
Enjoy it with a dusting of powdered sugar and a mug of steaming hot chocolate or your favorite pumpkin-spiced latte!
This cake may look fancy, but it’s incredibly easy to make, making it perfect for beginner bakers.
It’s such a great recipe to have on hand when you need a quick and easy dessert for a party or when friends are coming over on short notice!
And the best part? You can enjoy it year-round since apples are readily available any time of the year. 🙌🏻
Why I love this recipe
- Perfect texture: despite having no oil or butter, it always turns out moist, tender, and soft.
- Versatile: enjoy it as a breakfast treat, afternoon snack, or dessert.
- Quick and easy: whip it up in less than an hour for a last-minute gathering or a satisfying treat anytime.
- Guilt-free: this fresh apple cake is a delicious indulgence you can feel good about, as it contains fewer calories and less fat and offers dairy-free options.
This moist apple cake tastes fantastic with just a dusting of powdered sugar on top. For special occasions, serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of homemade salted caramel sauce, or add a dollop of whipped cream.
Ingredients & easy swaps
Here are some helpful notes about the ingredients for this recipe:
- Apples: lots of apples, both folded into the batter and layered over the top. Choose firm apples that will hold their shape when baked. Pink Lady, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, or Granny Smith are all good options. You can also use pears as a delicious substitution.
- Lemon: lemon zest brightens up the flavor of the apples, and lemon juice prevents them from browning. You can omit the lemon zest and replace it with ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, all spices, or vanilla extract.
- Eggs: using room temperature eggs will help them incorporate better into the batter and create a lighter texture. You can let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before using them in the recipe.
- Sugar: sugar gives sweetness and adds moisture. I used granulated white sugar, but if you prefer, you can experiment with brown sugar or a combination of brown and white sugar for a slightly richer flavor.
- Flour: although I tested the recipe with all-purpose flour, some readers have successfully used gluten-free flour as a substitute with excellent results!
- Milk: any type of milk will work in this recipe, so use whatever you have on hand or prefer. Almond milk or coconut milk are great dairy-free options.
See the recipe card below for a detailed ingredient list and step-by-step instructions.
How to make apple cake
Tips for success
- Measure your flour accurately by weighing it or using the spoon and level method. The most common mistake that results in a heavy cake is using too much flour.
- It will seem like you are using too many apples. It’s not, I promise!
- Tap the pan on the counter before you put it in the oven. This will help release any air bubbles trapped in the batter.
- Avoid dusting the cake with powdered sugar until you’re close to serving time. If you do it too early, the sugar may dissolve and disappear from the cake over time.
Yes, you can use a different type of flour, such as a gluten-free flour blend or whole wheat flour, as a substitute for all-purpose flour. However, be aware that the texture and flavor of the cake may be slightly different when using these alternatives.
Place it in an airtight container and store it in a cool place for 2 to 3 days. If you live in a warm climate, it is recommended to store it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh for up to 5 days.
You can freeze it for up to 3 month. Once baked, cool it completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap (you can wrap the whole cake or individual slices). Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before serving.
Replace the apples with pears or peaches in the summer.
The recipe is adapted from the book “La buona cucina di casa” written by Simili sisters.
How To Make It: Apple Cake (No Butter or Oil)
- 1.21 lb (550 g) apples
- 1 lemon juice and zest
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (90 g) granulated sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon (110 g) all-purpose flour sifted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon (75 ml) milk I used reduced fat (2%) milk
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar to sprinkle on top
- powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 356°F (180°C).
- Grease and flour a 9-inch (22 cm) pan, and set aside.
Prep the apples
- Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. Place the slices and the lemon juice in a medium bowl, toss to coat, and set aside.
Make the cake batter
- Put the eggs, sugar, grated lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl, and beat until thick and creamy.
- Add the flour, baking powder, and milk, and mix on low speed until combined.
- Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, fold two-thirds of the apples into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and arrange the remaining apple slices, flat-side down, over the top.
- Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar (optional).
Bake the apple cake
- Bake the apple cake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top is golden brown.
- Cool completely, then dust the cake with powdered sugar just before serving.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Apples: I used 3 apples weighing 1.21 lbs (550 grams) BEFORE peeling and coring. The net weight after peeling and coring was 0.86 lbs (390 grams). Choose apples that hold up well when baked, such as Pink Lady, Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, or Jonagold.
- Milk: feel free to use your preferred type of milk, whether it’s reduced-fat, fat-free, whole milk, or a plant-based alternative.
- Baking pan: I baked my cake in a ceramic pan. You can use your favorite 9-inch round pan.
- Baking time:keep in mind that all ovens are different, so the baking time may vary. If you notice the cake browning too quickly, simply cover the top with a sheet of foil and continue baking.
- To store:store the apple cake in an airtight container in a cool place for 2 to 3 days, or in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- To freeze: once baked, let it cool completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Nutrition: nutrition facts are for 1 of 8 servings. Each serving is approximately 90 grams.