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Easy Gluten Free Apple Custard Cake

Easy Gluten Free Apple Custard Cake

Incredibly easy apple custard cake, made with homemade or store bought cake mix (gluten free or not), applesauce and the perfect spices. Fall perfection!

Incredibly easy apple custard cake, made with homemade or store bought cake mix (gluten free or not), applesauce and the perfect spices. Fall perfection!

It’s time for gluten free apple recipes that will knock your gluten free apple baking socks off. I give you … this addictive gluten free apple custard cake. You’re welcome, and I’m terribly sorry. But mostly, you’re welcome.

If you live within an hour’s drive of apple trees this time of year, you’re going to be coming in to some apples. Even if you don’t go apple-picking. Since I assume you have at least some neighbors, you’ll have apples. If nothing else, apples will soon be the least expensive, best-looking fruit at the grocery store. So we’d better get to work putting them to good use!

Incredibly easy apple custard cake, made with homemade or store bought cake mix (gluten free or not), applesauce and the perfect spices. Fall perfection!

This apple custard cake is crazy easy to throw together, even if you make your own applesauce (which I do regularly, since I’ve got to more apples and my neighbors see me coming a mile away). I don’t even add any sugar to my applesauce when the apples are really fresh. I do add ground cinnamon or apple pie spice (which is mostly cinnamon – see the DIY apple pie spice below).

Incredibly easy apple custard cake, made with homemade or store bought cake mix (gluten free or not), applesauce and the perfect spices. Fall perfection!

I don’t know why this cake works. I do know that it does. And that it is almost pudding-like inside. I don’t know much, but I know that. If you don’t want to make it, maybe I just don’t know you like I thought I did.

This is the sort of recipe that’s just so easy that, when you’re ready to put it in the oven after less than 5 minutes of prep, you double and triple check the recipe—just to be sure you didn’t miss a step.

Incredibly easy apple custard cake, made with homemade or store bought cake mix (gluten free or not), applesauce and the perfect spices. Fall perfection!

All you do to make this amazing cake is mix applesauce (store-bought or homemade) with sweetened condensed milk (again, store-bought or homemade), eggs, a bit of sugar, plenty of apple pie spice. Add about 1/3 of a box (store-bought or homemade with my recipe) of vanilla cake mix, mix to combine and pour into a square baking dish. Sprinkle the rest of the dry cake mix in an even layer on top, followed by the melted butter. Pop it in the oven. That’s it.

The result is a moist and impossibly tender, custard-like bottom apple cake layer topped with a shortbread style top. And, naturally, a house that smells like heaven and a cheering family!

Incredibly easy apple custard cake, made with homemade or store bought cake mix (gluten free or not), applesauce and the perfect spices. Fall perfection!
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Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 8-or 9-inch square cake


8 ounces applesauce (homemade or chunky store-bought), plus more for drizzling

7 ounces sweetened condensed milk (for DIY versions, including dairy-free, click here)

2 eggs (120 g out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

1/2 cup (100 g) sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice* (plus more for sprinkling)

1 box gluten-free yellow cake mix (15 to 16 ounces) (I used the Make Your Own Vanilla Cake Mix from page 193 of Quick & Easy, now reprinted here on the blog)

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

*To make your own apple pie spice, combine 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon + 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom + 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg + 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice.


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan, line it with crisscrossed sheets of unbleached parchment paper, greasing in between the papers, and set it aside.

  • In a medium-sized bowl, place the 8 ounces applesauce, condensed milk, eggs, sugar and apple pie spice, and beat until well-combined. Add about ⅓ of the dry cake mix to the mixture, and mix to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the rest of the dry cake mix on top, and smooth carefully until the cake mix covers the applesauce layer evenly. Pour the melted butter evenly on top of the cake. Next, sprinkle on a bit more apple pie spice and scatter a few dollops of applesauce on top of the cake. Cover the pan with foil.

  • Place the cake in the center of the preheated oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover, and bake until the cake has begun to pull away slightly from the side of the pan and is set on top (another 12 minutes for a 9-inch pan, about 15 minutes for an 8-inch pan). Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing into squares and serving.

  • Originally published on the blog in 2013. Recipe and method the same, photos all new. 


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  • Holly Wydeck

    Ummm….yes please!! I will have to go pick some apples from my tree to make this right away. Or better yet, send the kids out to pick apples! You’re a genius! Keep the kids occupied and have my cake and eat it too.

    • JoAnn C.

      You send the “kids out to pick apples” and then you get to eat cake. Sounds to me as if you’re a genius too.

  • Anneke

    I just grabbed some homemade applesauce from the freezer to make this later today! Your best friend, Tim, goes straight from school to work today, and will be excited to get a taste of this in the dinner I drop off for him. When I made the pumpkin one last week, he suggested that I should make it everyday; I think he will be okay with mixing in the apple version. He’ll also be getting sandwiches on your Brown Bread — another one of his favorites. Now, if I only felt up to making frosted cookies, he’d be so happy!

    • Seriously, you make dinner and deliver it to my best friend Tim at work? Lucky him! If he’s not already happy, even without his beloved soft frosted sugar cookies, then I just don’t know him any more, Anneke. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Jennifer Sasse

    UGH UGH UGH! I love crack cake and apple cakes!! I also just made some applesauce from our trip to the orchard a few weeks back (in MN – we have TONS of orchards – home of the honey crisp people!!). Guess I’ll whip this up during a work meeting today when I should be listening.. teehee!! :)

    • Donia Robinson

      Jennifer, you live in Minnesota? That’s where I was born and raised, and lived for much of my adult life. We moved to Illinois two years ago. Are we sisters and we don’t know it????

      • Jennifer Sasse

        yes Donia – I’ve lived here my whole life! How weird is that? We just might be long lost sisters….

        • Anneke

          Jennifer — where in MN are you? I am here, too! I love reading your comments on here, and I know we both love Nicole Hunn, so we should get together! Maybe we could convince Nicole to come join us sometime for treats . . .

          • Jennifer Sasse

            Anneke: South metro. Maybe we should start a GF baking swap or something so we can keep up with Nicole and her recipes!! :) and yes, we could start begging her to make a trip here – then Donia could come and visit her family and meet up with us as well!

          • Anneke

            I’m in St. Paul, so we should totally meet sometime, Donia, too! A baking swap sounds great, there are so many things I have on my list to try; the list just keeps getting longer!

          • You 3 should totally get together. If you’d like to swap email addresses without posting them online for the world to see, each of you should just drop me an email through the contact form and ask me to share your address with the others. I’ll respond to all 3 of you and then you’ll be all set!
            xoxo Nicole

          • Kristen Klemann

            I’m also in St. Paul, MN! Wow! And I want some of this cake. ;)

          • Donia Robinson

            Sounds like the Twin Cities are a total hotspot for all things Gluten Free on a Shoestring! I will definitely have to get back up there for some baking parties!

  • Andrea

    I can’t wait to try this one now, the pumpkin one was so good! And I did not leave work early to make it, but I sure did think about it!

    • It’s at least worth thinking about, Andrea! ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • ancientpathsacademy

    Just picked up a 1/2 Bushel box of fresh apples from Tehachapi, CA on Sunday! Thanks for the timely recipe! ~ Rebecca

  • Katie

    Would doubling this recipe work the same as with the pumpkin? Where you can double all the ingredients except for the cake mix? I would like to make it for a family dinner and there are several of us who can’t eat gluten so I need a BIG pan :)

    • Sure would, Katie! A big pan of this cake sounds like just what you need. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Sarah

    I’ve been a big fan of yours, but I don’t understand why you’d make a joke about crack, especially since you know how offensive and hurtful it is. You’ve been writing recipes for a long time; surely you have the vocabulary to describe how delicious and irresistable a dessert is without comparing it to a dangerous and illegal street drug that has ruined many lives. Here’s a great article about why you shouldn’t describe food that way: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2013/08/food_like_crack_why_the_cocaine_metaphor_is_classist_and_insulting.html

    • I’m sorry the name offends you, Sarah. I didn’t come up with it myself.

      • Sarah

        Not to belabor the point, but since this is your blog, surely you could have named is apple custard cake or something along those lines. I don’t recall you making light of other serious social issues in your other recipes – there are no Pretzel Child Poverty Dogs or Apple AIDS Pies in any of your cookbooks. I’m glad you published my comment, since you could have chosen to moderate it out, and I really hope to see more sensitivity about this in the future.

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  • Meran

    Yes, drugs aren’t a joke. However, the words have been accepted into the lexicon…
    And ‘crack’ means more than drugs, it means drug-like behavior… we have animals that love their toys or HAM, as if it were crack… and yes, we refer it as dog crack, or cat crack.
    People CAN take things a bit far sometimes. A little relaxation is sometimes indicated.

    I love your recipes! ;) And yes, sometimes I use your cookbook as my Crack Recipe Go-To!

  • Kat

    Nicole I have a question about the recipe. In order to make it casein/dairy free I need to make homemade coconut sweetened condensed milk. Will using just one can of the coconut milk along with how much sugar(?) make the correct amount of condensed milk after cooked down? Thank you.

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  • Edith D Thurman

    Question on the coconut milk…do you use the watery part that’s in the can or do you toss that part? I always toss it, but I’m not sure if it’s needed to make the condensed milk version?

    • Mare Masterson

      You use the whole can (14 fluid ounces) and it cannot be low fat. Check out the recipe for it.

      • Like Mare said, Edith, just click that link and you’ll find the whole recipe for dairy free sweetened condensed milk!

  • Mare Masterson

    Apple Crack Cake – a favorite recipe of Nicole’s in my house! (Name was changed because people were offended.) It is seriously delicious! I believe I need to order some Better Batter and get this made! (Staying grain free is just not easy for me!)

    • I still wish I could call it that, Mare, but it wasn’t worth the headaches!! 😘

  • Nellie

    Just a question, in the new pictures it doesn’t look like you added the cake mix to the top of the cake, it looks like it’s all underneath. Did you change the method?

    • Hi, Nellie,
      Nope. I didn’t change the method at all. As the recipe states, one third of the cake mix is mixed into the bottom layer, then the remaining two thirds are spread in an even layer on top, followed by the melted butter. It’s all there!

  • Mare Masterson

    Nicole, I was just reading old comments and saw the comment about doubling all the ingredients except the cake mix to make a big pan. Just curious why you not double the cake mix too?

    • I don’t even remember, Mare, just that I tried it both ways and it was best not to double the rest!

  • Tammy Lang

    Ok, I must have done something wrong because my top layer was 1/2 crispy (on the top) but the middle was all powder still… Not sure what I did wrong…

    • Most likely your butter wasn’t properly melted in an even layer over the top, Tammy.

  • suzeyg3

    Is the condensed milk 7oz weight, or 7 fluid oz.because I had a bit of dry cake mix left on the top. But it still tasted fab.

    • As we discussed on Facebook, Suzey, it was your butter not being totally melted in an even layer on top. :)

  • Jennifer S.

    I’m totally making this for my cheat day!!!!

  • Kristina @ MsModify

    This sounds so easy and delicious! I can’t wait to try it!

  • Nancy

    You may not be able to call it “Apple Crack Cake” but I can! Wow, wow, wow, delish! I served it with homemade vanilla ice cream which made it even more addicting.

    • LOL Nancy. I love it. I guess I could call it that, but I’m just taking the path of least resistance. 🙃

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