Totally Healthy, Vegan and Grain Free Buckwheat Apple Ring Cake

One of my very good friends, and number one fan (hey, his words, not mine!) sent me an email last week with the following subject line:

“Hey, Ms Healthy Foodie… check this out (let’s see you make that!)”

The body text consisted of basically nothing but a copy of a recent tweet from Foodista:

Bundt Cakes for breakfast? Cheers @cakeduchess for this inspiring Vegan Apple Ring Cake Foodista’s Food Blog of the Day

Curious, I immediately checked it out…

– Hmmmm, nice, I thought. Very interesting. GREAT looking cake, looks extremely yummy, but…

My answer went like this:

WOW, nice! But I’d have to give it a hell of a healthification treatment, as well degrainization galore… 😉
Was that an official challenge, Sir?

To which he responded:

Do it the Healthy Foodie way and yes that’s a challenge!

THAT was all I needed. From that point on, I was a girl on a mission.

For some reason, I was super excited at the idea of undertaking this challenge. I felt just like a kid who’d just learnt that he’d get to spend the day at the amusement park.

Of course, you know I’m no stranger to “healthifying” things. But “degrainizing” a cake? That was a first for me.

Just to make the challenge a tad harder, I decided to also take the Low Fat and No Sugar Added route. Hey, it is Lent after all. And this cake HAD to be Lent friendly!

If I succeeded, and that, I thought, was A BIG IF, the resulting cake would actually be a Vegan, Grain Free, Gluten Free, Low Fat, No Sugar Added, Apple Ring Cake

Phew! Now that’s what I call a mouhtful!

So the very following Saturday, I got busy recreating reinventing this cake, basically rewriting the recipe as I went along.

“Scratch this, omit that, add this, replace that…” 

To say that I was extremely dubious that the cake would actually turn out would be an understatement.

Well, lo and behold, after  45 minutes in the oven, it appeared as though the batter had miraculously turned into a viable cake.

AH! I was so overfilled with joy that, as soon as I managed to take the cake out of the pan, (hmpft… THAT proved to be quite the challenge…  my pan was NOT springform! Need I say more? ) I took a picture with my cell phone and emailed it to my friend.

Now, I’m way too humble to copy what his exact response was. Let’s just leave it at: he was impressed!

And to be honest, so was I!

This cake totally makes me forget that I am observing Lent. Totally makes me forget that I am to be without eating grains or sugar for another 5 weeks.

Totally makes me forget that it’s good for me.

It’s just plain good. Period!

I’ve enjoyed it every day of the week as my morning snack and I have to admit that I felt like I was cheating Lent. Big time.

Oh, and fyi, it’s just to die for with a little bit of peanut or almond butter on  it…


Totally Healthy, Vegan and Grain Free Buckwheat Apple Ring Cake

Yield: Serves 8-10

Nutritional Information is based on 10 servings

Totally Healthy, Vegan and Grain Free Buckwheat Apple Ring Cake


  • 1½ cup buckwheat flour
  • ¼ cup flaxseed meal
  • ¾ cup almond meal, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder* (see note)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • Wet
  • 1½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk (or other non dairy milk) mixed with 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar (this makes a buttermilk)
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • Add-ins
  • 4 large apples, peeled and cored. 2 apples sliced, 2 apples cut into small chunks
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Generously coat a spring form tube pan with baking spray. (make sure you use a spring form pan, else you'll end up having to do what I did, which is flip your cake upside down to unmold it. NOT ideal, let me tell you!)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the lemon zest to the flour and mix it together with your fingers to release the lemon flavor; Add raisins and pecans and stir until well coated and evenly distributed; set aside.
  3. In another large bowl whisk together the wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients and stir delicately with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until well incorporated. Fold in the apple chunks.
  4. Pour the batter into your prepared ring pan. Place the apple slices around the top of the batter. Sprinkle the shredded coconut on top of the apple slices.
  5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool for 5-10 minutes then remove from pan and cool completely on a cooling rack.


*Storebought baking powder contains corn starch. To keep this completely grain free, you can make your own cornstarch at home using one part baking soda, two parts cream of tartar and two parts non grain starch, such as tapioca, potato or arrowroot.

Vegan, Grain Free, Gluten Free, Low Fat, No Added Sugar

Adapted from Cake Duchess



  1. says

    Sonia, you can read my mind! I was craving apple cake for the past three days, but couldn’t find a recipe that is sugar free, grain free, gluten free, vegan and all those things. And I was too lazy to experiment myself. Now you delivered. Gotta love you for that!!!!
    You think if I ha;lved the recipes it would work in a regular loaf pan?

    • says

      That’s too funny Anja! It’s almost like you placed an order… 😉 I really wouldn’t see why half a recipe wouldn’t work. You might want to cook your loaf a little less longer though, but apart from that, it should work just fine!

  2. says

    Buckwheat is technically a seed, right? I was confused when I saw that it was grain-free, yet it had buckwheat flour. I guess I never classified that as a grain-free flour. LOVE this idea and I love buckwheat and apples together! (Buckwheat and strawberries is also great :))

    • says

      Right on, Natalie! Buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa are seeds. Thanks goodness, that leaves me a little room to work with! Buckwheat and apples are indeed a match made in heaven. Never tried strawberries though… will definitely have to do that! Thanks for the the idea. :)

  3. Holly says

    I can’t wait to try this. I’m really curious to see what you come up with in the next couple of weeks.

    • says

      Hey, thank you Holly. Glad you like. And to be honest with you, I can’t wait either! 😉 I get the feeling that I will come up with all sorts of real good goodies. Hey, I think Lent can be a really good thing after all! :)

  4. Donna says

    Wow…I have all of the ingredients in my hollow…echoing ..rather EMPTY Lenten cupboards!!!..Except no soy milk…I DO have buttermilk/kefir liquid…could this work?…Gorgeous presentation…No wonder you have no “Lent Deprivation Feelings” regarding this creation…Bravo!

    • says

      I really wouldn’t see why not. In fact, if I hadn’t wanted to keep mine vegan, I’d have used buttermilk. I love using buttermilk in baked goods. Well, in fact, I love using buttermilk in all sorts of things. It just makes everything better, I find!

      Oh, and thank you for your lovely comment, Donna. I truly appreciate! 😀

  5. Val says

    Must get buckwheat flour and make this *now*.

    I love the sliced apple ring around the top; it really is a beautiful presentation!

  6. says

    I saw this quickly before going shopping and put buckwheat on my list. I found it but for $10 a kilo, I didn’t get it. Does the cake taste like a whole wheat flour cake or does the buckwheat flour have a different taste? I’ll look online for a cheaper price. It’s a very pretty cake. :)

    • says

      Well, if you don’t really want to keep it grain free, Erin, you could sub any other kind of flour. Can you get buckwheat groats where you are? It might be cheaper to buy the groats and grind your own flour? Buckwheat flour has a very distinctive, earthy taste… some even say it tastes like dirt (needless to day, these people usually don’t care much for it) but I happen to LOVE the taste of buckwheat. Guess you have to try it for yourself and see. Thanks for saying that my cake is pretty. I will let it know you said that! 😉 Oh, no, wait… it’s all gone. Oh well. I’m sure it knows! 😀 (and no, I am not crazy…)

  7. says

    OK, I am tooooooootally impressed! And I already know I love buckwheat flour and the texture doesn’t bug me at all even if it’s a little different, so I know this is awesome! I’ve used 100% buckwheat flour for things, and it’s good, but I bet this is way better with flax and almond meal. Not only did you make an amazing cake, it’s beautiful too! Love the apples on top :)

  8. Élise says

    Ok is it bad that even though I’m not hungry and it’s 22h11 right now, I have this urge to go to the kitchen and make this cake asap? This is so drool worthy and yet guilt free… And thanks to your recommendation store wise, I’ve got all the ingredients at home, including the sarrasin since I had the urge to make some crêpes breton style this morning!
    I love to bake and not having any food restrictions except for an abhorence for butter ( I know, sacrilėge but I just hate the smell), I rarely find myself substituing ingredients or not indulging in decadent desserts. I just love the fact that your blog is teaching me to bake differently! So I owe you my thanks!
    As a sidenote, do you think I could play around with the flours ( inverser les proportions d’amande et de sarrasin, ou substituer la farine d,amande avec celle de noisette ou de noix de coco)?

    • says

      Hey Élise! Glad I could make you itch to bake a cake so late at night! I take that as quite the compliment!

      Hey, no shame in not liking butter. All the better for you, in fact. I’m not a big fan of butter myself, but I have to admit that I sometimes find it really hard not to use it in baked goods. Mind you, I’ve been getting fairly good results so far, so I guess I’ve really learned to live without it.

      As for playing around with flours, I guess it could be done. Of course, the end result would be slightly different, but should still work. Not sure I would completely switch buckwheat and almond, maybe just go half and half? As in up the almond and lessen buckwheat to come up to required quantity. I’ve never worked with hazelnut flour, but I’m guessing you could very well sub using a one to one ratio. As for coconut flour, this one is so absorbent, you would probably need to use a lot less, or adjust liquid accordingly.

      Whatever you decide to do, please let me know how it turned out. I sure would appreciate that! +D

      • Élise says

        I just made it and it was delicious! This recipe is a definitely a keeper. The only problem is that I keep eating lol (I feel less guilty because it’s healthy— but still I need to stop before I eat the whole thing in one day.
        I made very few adjustments: traded soy milk for almond milk; went with half/half buckwheat and almond meal, omited the lemon and went instead with almond and vanilla extracts. I didn’t have pecan, so I used roasted almonds instead. Oh and I ate it warm from the oven with almond butter on top! Yummy :) (I still need to buy that dreamed about sturdy food processor, and then I will make all your homemade nut butters.. can’t wait 😀

        • says

          Wow, you tried this already? That was quick! It is pretty good, isn’t it? Hard to stop eating it. I had to cut mine into presized servings so I wouldn’t constantly cut out a thin slice, just to munch on, you know… And now you got me craving more, especially with your “warm out of the oven with almond butter on top” comment! Oh my! I soooo can taste it!

          So you used half buckwheat and half almond and it worked great? That’s really good to know. I bet almond and vanilla extract are fantastic in there too. I’ll have to keep that in mind for the next time I make it.

          Hey, thanks for taking the time to leave your impressions and share your modifications Élise. I truly appreciate! 😀

  9. Skylar says

    When I saw the picture of your cake, I knew I had to make it asap. I am also following lent and trying to stay away from sugar so this is perfect. Plus, I had all the ingredients on hand! The batter came together very quickly but baking was another issue. I just pulled it out of the oven after 1h20mins and it is still kinda goey inside. I’m trying to figure out where I went wrong… I halved the recipe and used a loaf pan instead of a tube, perhaps that had something to do with it since the hole in the middle of the tube helps the cake bake evenly inside and out. Do you use store bought buckwheat flour or do you grind your own from whole buckwheat? What was the texture of the cake like when it came out of the oven. Was it completely firm to the touch, like a normal cake? Thanks in advance for your help. I can’t wait to try it again.

    • says

      Yikes… I’m really sorry to hear you’re having issues with the cake and I wish I could tell you what went wrong, but unfortunately, I really have no idea. I did use storebought buckwheat flour and the texture of the cake, as it came out of the oven, was very firm to the touch, not soft or gooey at all. It is a very dense cake after all… Mine was in there for 45 minutes and quite frankly, I think that if I had left it for another 35 minutes, it would’ve burned! Maybe your oven would be the culprit? Maybe if you tried baking it at a slightly higher temperature, next time? Hope this works and happy to hear that you are willing to give this another try! Let me know how it went (fingers crossed that all goes well this time!!!)

  10. YUMI says

    i saw this cake and I knew! I have to make it for my mom’s bday!
    but i dont really have buckwheat flour,flaxseed meal, and almond meal on hand. But I’ll be heading to whole food to look for it! Just a question if i cant find the buckwheat flour and almond meal can I sub it with all-purpose flour and oat flour? I dont really want to mess it up! and the amount of the ingrediets should be the same right?

      • says

        Well, that would make for quite a few adjustments, so I can’t tell for sure what the results would be. I don’t foresee subbing the flours as being a problem, and I would definitely go with a one to one ratio. I’m really not advocating the use of all-purpose flour though, so I would strongly suggest you at least use whole wheat… 😉 Besides, whole wheat would be more “true” to what the texture of this cake is supposed to be like. It is a very dense and heavy cake, after all.

        As for using 9″ pans, I say you will most probably need to use 2 of them, so adjust baking time accordingly. I would start checking after 30 minutes…

        Hope it all works out for you. Let me know how things went, I’d really appreciate! :)

  11. YUMI says


    well if using 9″ pans would make 2 of these cakes maybe i’ll just half the ingredients and make one 9″ cake! cuz it’ll be end up my mom and I eating them and we dont eat that much :)

    and i’ll definitely let you know how things turn out if i sub with whole wheat flour for buckwheat :)

  12. Fahreen says

    Hi Sonia! This looks absolutely heavenly and I LOVE the no-added sugar! I am wondering if I can substitute Millet flour for the Buckwheat flour in here? I am also planning to do the half flour/half almond meal that another fan (Elise) tried. Do you think I can get away with using half Millet flour? Don’t know if the densities and consistencies are the same of the two flours …. would that also keep most of the nutrition in this recipe? Can’t wait to try it! BTW, I still haven’t experimented with the Oatmeal Bake yet 😉

    • says

      Hehe, Fahreen! Good to see you here! 😀

      To be honest, I’ve never used millet flour in my entire life, but I don’t think that it would be a problem to use this instead of buckwheat, seeing as how gluten is not needed here, and this cake is extremely dense to start with… and I would imagine millet flour to have a rather dense consistency! And it wouldn’t make the cake any less nutritious, just different.

      The one thing that it would change though, is that the cake would no longer be grain free, but if that’s not a concern for you, then by all means, I say you should totally go for it. I’m all for experimentation, you know! 😉

      If you do try it, let me know how it turns out! I always appreciate that very much!

  13. Fahreen says

    Oh Sonia, I am SO disappointed right now as I write this …. I tried the Apple Cake today and it did not turn out at all! I did half Millet Flour (according to Nora at Natural Noshings, you can easily substitute Millet for Buckwheat Flour) and half Almond Meal and followed everything else to the T. Oh, I did use walnuts and cranberries instead of Pecans and Raisins (don’t think that would matter at all). I baked it in an 11-inch springform round cake pan and baked it for 60mins (just because it kept looking too jiggly in the centre). It looked wonderful when it came out of the oven but a gooey mess inside as I cut into it! Do you suppose you really need to bake this in a bundt style pan? Or, did my apples release too much moisture? I did use fresh, crisp Braeburns (perfect for baking). Where did this go wrong? :(

    • says

      REALLY? That is so strange. You are the second person so far to have tried this in a regular pan and have the cake fail on them… So maybe that cake absolutely has to cook in a tube pan… must be a question of heat conduction. I will have to test it myself, I guess… ‘cos I’m definitely all curious now! Mine was really far from gooey on the inside. It was really firm and dense, well, as the pictures pretty well depict, I think. I am truly puzzled.

      I am extremely sorry to hear that it did not work out for you. Real sorry! :(

  14. Fahreen says

    Thanks for your feedback … I was truly disappointed yesterday (and sad to throw all the expensive ingredients in the rubbish!) however these things happen. I am determined to try this again some day! :) I wonder if you can make muffins of this batter? Hmm …..

  15. Diane says

    This cake looks good. Really good. I’m wondering if some sort of caramel sauce made from dates (maybe with some pecans thrown in) might go well to drizzle on top and make it more like a dessert cake? Thanks for sharing :)

    • says

      Caramel sauce made from dates? OMG, didn’t I think of that? I’ve been picking my brains for months now, trying to come up with a creative solution to make caramel sauce. Now I’m definitely on to something. Wow. Thank you so much for the inspiration, Diane! 😀

      • Diane says

        Oh, yay! It’s not something I was clever enough to think up myself – something in the back of my mind was telling me that I’d seen a recipe for ‘caramel’ made from dates on Pinterest a while ago. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I’m certain it must be lovely, and I think it would go really well with this recipe of yours. I’ve dug out the link for you in case you’ve not yet seen it. I can’t wait to try them both out together!!

  16. trish says

    I am so excited about trying this cake!!!! It looks awesome! However I have 2 questions….the first is that I am looking for “grain free” but isn’t buckwheat a grain? Because of my sugar level I was told grains turn to sugar and this is why I feel headachey, bloated and exhausted after eating them. Also, is there a way to modify this recipe for a regular baking pan? I don’t own a bundt mold Thanks!

    • says

      Happy to hear that this cake tickles your fancy, Trish! To answer your questions, technically, buckwheat is not a grain: it’s actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb! It makes an excellent grain flour replacement in baked goods!

      As for using a regular pan, 2 people have attempted it so far, with less than conclusive results, so I would strongly suggest investing in a bundt pan if you want to give this cake a try. Better spend your money on a pan that will last you than on ingredients to bake a cake that risks not turning out and ending up in the trash. 😉 I will have to run some tests at home and see if it can be made into a “regular pan” kind of cake.

      If you do end up giving it a try, make sure you let me know how it turned out! :)

  17. Danielle says

    What a delectable challenge!

    I would like to make this for my son’s 1st birthday cake! Do you have any tips/pointers/modifications if I made these cupcakes?


    • says

      Hmmm… not sure how well this would work with cupcakes, Danielle. A few readers have tried making it in a standard, non funnel mold and the results have been rather inconclusive. I think you better stick with the Bundt cake… or maybe choose a different recipe if you really have your heart set on cupcakes! 😉

  18. Melissa says

    just made this cake into 12 muffins! 35 minutes in the oven, perfectly done!
    yummy and healthy snack for my family! thank you

  19. Majda says

    Hello Sonia, this cake looks amazing and yummy. I tried to make it today, however (I’m so sad), it did not want to cook from inside. All the ingredients were exactly as you said, didn’t change anything, i left it in 400 degree over for more than one hour…and it still not cooked from inside, plus it is very dark, nothing like the one on the picture :(
    Please if you have any advice for me, I’d very much appreciate it. Thanks

    • says

      I’m so sorry to hear, Majda, and I really don’t know what could’ve went wrong. However, you would have been better off lowering the oven temp as opposed to increasing it, and leaving the cake in the oven for a longer time…

      Again, real sorry to hear the cake didn’t turn out for you. :(


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