This isn’t your ordinary cake recipe! Fresh apples and carrots are literally mixed into the cake batter for a delicious infusion of nutrients and flavor. You don’t even need to peel the apples! To top it off, this dairy-free breakfast cake is 100% whole grain and hearty enough to satisfy in the morning or as a healthy afternoon dessert.
Dairy-Free Breakfast Cake made with a Blend of Healthy Ingredients
Years ago, a friend named Amy Green shared her favorite gluten-free dairy-free breakfast cake recipe with us. At that time, Amy ran a food blog and authored a cookbook, but she has since hung up her apron. I recently decided to try her recipe out, but turned it into a whole wheat dairy-free breakfast cake. This post highlights my version, but you can still enjoy Amy’s gluten-free version in the FAQs below.
Can I Substitute All-Purpose Flour?
You can! The cake won’t be as hearty and wholesome, but it should perform perfectly fine.
How Can I Make this a Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Breakfast Cake?
This recipe was inspired by my friend Amy Green’s gluten-free dairy-free breakfast cake. She uses 2 cups sorghum flour + ½ teaspoon xanthan gum instead of whole wheat flour. You could also use your favorite gluten-free flour blend instead of the sorghum flour. If your blend contains xanthan gum, then I would skip adding more. I have made a few other changes to Amy’s recipe, so I can’t guarantee that this straight swap will work. In addition to the sorghum flour, Amy’s recipe used 2 teaspoons baking soda, no baking powder, no oil, and she had an option for using 3 eggs or 6 egg whites.
Can I Use Coconut Oil for the Oil?
You can! But I would make sure your eggs, apples, and carrots are at room temperature. Cool or cold ingredients can cause coconut oil to solidify and bead up. I use extra-light olive oil (not extra-virgin), but your favorite baking oil should work just fine.
How Can I Make this Recipe Oil-Free?
Amy’s original recipe was actually oil-free. I’m not a fan of the texture without the oil, and find the batter a bit too thick. But you can omit it, if preferred. If you do opt to skip the oil, you might need to add a little liquid if the cake batter is too thick. It should be thick and somewhat fluffy, but still easy to spread in the pan.
Is that Really 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract?
Yes, it’s 1 tablespoon, not 1 teaspoon. Amy likes her vanilla, and so do I! The vanilla enhances the sweetness and provides a sultry taste that’s perfect in the morning. Because the other flavors are bold, the vanilla isn’t overpowering. If you happen to have a Costco card (or a friend who has one!), they typically have real vanilla extract on for a very good value.
Do You Have an Egg-Free Option?
I haven’t tested this dairy-free breakfast cake without eggs. The eggs are a key component, so I’m hesitant to recommend the cake without them. If you do decide to test it, I would personally try aquafaba first. You’ll need about ½ cup + 1 tablespoon of aquafaba for the 3 eggs.
I Don’t Have a High Power Blender or Food Processor. What Can I Use?
If your blender isn’t mighty, there are other options. Simply grate the carrot, and use the small holes if you have patience! Then blend the apple with the eggs, oil, and vanilla in your regular blender. You can peel the apples if you think the skin is too tough for your blender. The apple flesh and liquids should puree easily in even the wimpiest of blenders!
Do You Have a Frosting for this Dairy-Free Breakfast Cake?
Amy likes to top it with thick cashew cream. You could also dollop it with coconut whipped cream or slather on a little vegan butter (mmm!). I prefer nut butter “frosting.” Basically, I warm a little peanut butter or almond butter and spread it on top. If I’m in the mood for something a little sweeter, I whisk a little maple syrup into it. You could use a real frosting, but that can be a little sweet first thing in the morning.
Cake is Sunken or Depressed in the Middle – If it rose quickly and then deflated, there is too much leavener for your climate and/or altitude. I would also reduce the baking soda to ¾ teaspoon. Baked goods rise more vigorously in dryer climates and at higher altitude, which can cause them to “burst” and collapse. The texture when this happens is coarse and dense.
Cake Didn’t Fully Rise or Bake Through – If you checked in as it baked, and it just didn’t fully rise or bake through all the way (vs rising too fast and collapsing), then you might need more leavener. I would add ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon baking powder to the recipe. Use the higher amount if it is still not baked through in the middle after 45 minutes of baking. This issue can happen in very humid low altitude areas. The texture when this happens is very moist and heavy.
Cake Batter is Too Thick – Blending the eggs with the fruit results in very fluffy wet ingredients that you have to fold into the dry ingredients with a spatula or wooden spoon. The batter should be thick, but still easy to scrape into your pan and spread. If it’s too thick, just stir a little water, orange juice, or dairy-free milk alternative into the batter. You can add 1 tablespoon at a time, until it becomes more workable.
Special Diet Notes: Breakfast Cake
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and vegetarian. See the FAQs above for tips on gluten-free, egg-free, and vegan substitutions.
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- ½ packed brown sugar or coconut sugar (less sweet)
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg or allspice
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups diced apples (about 2 medium apples, cored and optionally peeled)
- 1 cup sliced carrot (about 1 large, peeled)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper overhanging on two sides (to life the cake out).
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon baking soda, salt, and nutmeg or allspice.
- Place the eggs, oil, vanilla, apples, and carrots in your high power blender or food processor. Pulse or start on low, and then increase the speed to mostly puree the ingredients. There will be shreds of carrot remaining. Stop as needed to scrape down the sides. The mixture will be thick.
- Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until no streaks of flour remain.
- Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and even it out.
- Bake the cake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, and it springs back a little in the center when touched.
- Let the cake cool for a while in the pan, then loosen the sides and remove it with the parchment paper. If you can wait, let the cake cool completely before slicing.