Recipes Treats

Olive Oil Apple Cake with Maple Buttercream (Paleo, vegan, AIP)

This recipe for olive oil apple cake is an allergy-friendly twist on the traditional Italian cake that is usually made with orange juice and milk. Apple sauce is the key ingredient here as it acts as a binder and supplies moisture and flavor. A few of your favorite fresh berries on top provide a little color and complete this elegant treat.

I devised this recipe while I was visiting my parents this past week at their lake house in northern Wisconsin. Here are a few of the photographic highlights from our time here…

Ready Set AIP - Your on ramp to the Autoimmune Protocol lifestyle

The weather was amazing most of the time, though we did have a couple rainy days that made baking an appealing activity. I had a good array of ingredients to work with, including Otto’s Natural Cassava Flour. I’ve been working with this flour now for over three years (this recipe for gingersnaps was my first, way back in January 2015) and it is exciting to see that it is now available so widely, even on the shelves at the local Golden Harvest Market in Rhinelander, which I always make a point to visit shortly after I arrive and stock up. If you live or visit the beautiful north woods of Wisconsin, make a point to pay them a visit. I have no financial connection to the place – just a happy customer and fan who appreciates that high quality organic food is available even up here!

But I didn’t want to buy a whole container of gelatin, just for this one recipe, so I decided to go the extra mile and challenge myself to make a cake that didn’t use that as an egg replacer, which would also mean it could be suitable for vegans as well as for people following the Paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP) or who have an egg allergy or sensitivity. Maple syrup provides the sweetness, though not too much – this is a great dessert for people who actually prefer their sweets to be more muted and have some complexity of flavor. Leave it bare, or top with some fruit, depending on your preference.

Ingredient notes

If you live near Two Sisters Lake, Wisconsin you can get all of these ingredients at a local store, which probably means you can get them anywhere in the United States!

Looking for a place to get all of your AIP-approved ingredients and have them shipped right to you? I recommend ShopAIP! The Bakers Dream bundle includes my favorite cassava flour and coconut butter, as well as some other staples to get you started.

Bakers Dream Bundle

AIP Olive Oil Apple Cake with Maple Buttercream Recipe

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Olive Oil Apple Cake with Maple Buttercream (Paleo, vegan, AIP)

  • Author: Jaime Hartman
  • Total Time: 45 mins


Olive oil cake is a traditional Italian pastry but this one has a few twists that makes it suitable for vegans and people who are following the Paleo autoimmune protocol.



Olive Oil Apple Cake

  • 1 cup cassava flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Coconut oil for greasing pan

Maple Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt


Make cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease an 8 inch round cake pan with coconut oil and lightly dust with cassava flour. Shake pan to distribute flour evenly and then discard any that hasn’t stuck to the pan.
  2. Whisk together cassava flour, tapioca starch, coconut flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
  3. Add orange zest, olive oil, apple sauce, maple syrup, water, and vanilla (if using). Mix well, until no lumps remain.
  4. Add in apple cider vinegar and then immediately spread batter in prepared cake pan and place in oven to bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Allow cake to cool completely, then run a knife around the edge to release cake from pan and carefully flip cake over onto plate.

Make buttercream

  1. If your coconut butter is solid, gently warm it in a sauce pan full of water until it is soft enough that you can stir it up (a solid layer of oil usually separates and collects at the top of a new jar).
  2. In a blender, combine coconut oil, coconut butter, salt, and maple syrup until smooth.
  3. Spread or drizzle on top of cake and top with fresh fruit if desired before serving.
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: Italian

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Ready Set AIP - Your on ramp to the Autoimmune Protocol lifestyle

50 replies on “Olive Oil Apple Cake with Maple Buttercream (Paleo, vegan, AIP)”

Glad to hear about all your progress. So encouraging. The apple cake looks wonderful. Would you have any recommendations for an aip substitute for cassava four? Unfortunately I am unable to tolerate it.

Great recipe! It was a little warm today so I had a bit of an icing meltdown, combined with pouring too fast and a cake that maybe wasn’t 100% cool yet, but after some time in the fridge which gave me time to get the icing off the cabinets and floor – LOL – it was a success! Thank you!

We are new to AIP. I had been buying the brown bananas to bake until I found this recipe. I had zero issues with the cake. It was delicious!
I was challenged with the coconut butter.
It was shipped and arrived very cold. Warming gently, I could not stick a knife in the center. Needless to say, after about a day, I made the maple butter cream icing.
Changes I made:
Used Avocado Oil
9 inch Wilton pan
Lined bottom with parchment
Greased and floured sides.
Cooked 30 minutes
Anthony’s Cassava Flour

I checked @ 25 minutes but did not look “done” as I was baking raspberry bars at the same time.
Like a normal cake, the edges were not touching pan. I cooled completely. Easy removal from pan.
The texture is really cake perfect. My husband loves his “Spice Cake”.
I loved discovering Coconut Butter.

This looks SO delicious! I just finished making some juices and have been hard at work repurposing all of the pulp (beet, carrot and apple) and decided to give this a go substituting 1/4 c each of carrot pulp and crushed pineapple for some of the apple sauce. The batter tastes amazing and I cannot wait to taste the finished product. Thanks for a great recipe!

Hi there

When I made this cake the flavour was really good but the texture and density was just like a bit chunk of rubber. Do you have any idea what I may have done wrong?
Thank you.

Jaime, I am ever so grateful that you created and shared this wonderful cake recipe. This ended up being my birthday cake a couple of days ago, and both me and my non-AIP sister were blown away by just how delicious it was, and how lovely the texture turned out… like, eyes-rolling-backward-into-our-skulls good. We warmed the frosting until it was really syruppy and we decided to let it sit on top of the cake for a few hours before digging in, which added even more flavor and moisture… it was well worth the wait! Thankfully with the AIP-friendly pantry I keep stocked, most of the ingredient list for this recipe will always be close at hand (maybe TOO close). This would be a crowd-pleaser at any occasion as it checks so many dietary restriction boxes. The flavor profile may be especially appreciated during the autumn and winter seasons. (And if anyone reading this comment is up for making it a bit naughty… a few drops of dark aged rum soaked into the bottom of your slice may or may not be a perfect complement! 😉

Thank you for the glowing review!! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it… I also shared it with my non-AIP family and they raved about it. I agree that it will be especially flavorful in autumn.

Hi, I’m so excited about this recipe! You inspired me to do an AIP reset, and it’s great to have more egg-free options. I was just wondering if this could be made in a loaf pan? I’m not very experienced with baking, how would the cooking time/temperature need to be adjusted? Thanks again for the recipe!

I’m afraid that a loaf pan would make the cake too thick in the middle and leave it underbaked or gummy. Do you have an 8-inch square pan? That would probably work better… or anything that keeps the cake from being too tall. Good luck on your reset!

I’m really not sure… I haven’t tried it. Generally speaking, it takes about half as long to bake cupcakes as it does cakes, but AIP baked goods may be different. If you try it, please let me know!

I had a friend come to visit who is doing AIP, so we made this cake together using Anthony’s Cassava Flour and a glass baking dish. The cake was very oily and gummy – not like what is pictured at all.

Do you think the recipes success depends on a certain brand of cassava flour? And what type of pan do you use, metal or glass?

Even though the cake did not turn out how we had hoped, the flavor profile is amazing (the batter was too good to avoid!).

Oh what a bummer! I’m sorry to hear it didn’t turn out. Yes, I do think that the brand of cassava flour you use does matter very much. I don’t mean to imply that there is anything wrong with the brand you used, just that it isn’t what I used to develop this recipe. I use Otto’s exclusively in all my recipes so I know they will always turn out.

Also, I did use a metal pan. That could have made a slight difference, but I think the flour is the more likely culprit.

Ok – good to know! I work with GF flours all the time, but it is rare that I use cassava. Thank you for weighing in! I’ll have to get some Otto’s brand sometime.

Phenomenal! I don’t know how you figured out the cake texture but you did great! How do you store it? Have you tried freezing?

I have not tried freezing it… every time I’ve made it, I had enough hungry people around that it got eaten up within the first two days, so I just put the extra in an airtight container and kept it at room temperature. But I’m guessing that freezing would work.

I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for sharing your success!

Just FYI it does freeze very well, I wrapped in plastic wrap by the 1/4 and placed in ziploc bag.
Made it for the second time last night, haven’t tasted yet but texture looks spot on again!

The flavor in this cake was really good. The only thing, like the others too, the texture was very gummy/chewy. I used the same ingredients you used, but for some reason it is not spongy like yours.

I’m sorry to hear that. Did you use Otto’s brand cassava flour? I really can’t guarantee that any other brands will behave the same way. Also, I’m curious to know which brand of coconut flour you used? I don’t know if that would make a difference, but it is possible.

Hi Jaime,

I just tried making the cake and it came out very gooey. Is that suppose to be the texture, or did I take it out of the oven too early?

I’ve not true it yet, but this sounds wonderful! Do you know if it would work to sub coconut oil for the Olive oil (I know there’s conflicting info out there but I prefer not to heat Olive oil)

There is no reason to fear baking with olive oil. Its smoke point is around 400 degrees fahrenheit and that is nowhere near the temperature it would reach in an oven with the temperature set at 350.

I haven’t tested this with coconut oil, so I can’t tell you if it would work or not.

Delicious cake – I made it for my kids, husband and sister in law, all of whom were very appreciative, and I have been commanded to make it again for New Years Eve! I added only 1/2 cup water – it seemed too much to add in the whole amount – and it was perfectly moist but not gooey. The frosting was the best part – it was just perfectly sweet and spreadable but not runny. My only issue was I am not a huge fan of cassava in cake – it leaves a bit of a fine crumb on top of the cake, and makes it a bit more rubbery than it should be. Next time I might experiment with tiger it flour. Thank you for the amazing AIP recipe!

I just baked this cake today for dessert tomorrow which is Mothers day. I can tell it’s very dense by how heavy it is, and quite moist, both of which I love. However, my issue is with the frosting. I followed the ingredients and directions exactly, and it was SO oily!!! It never would come together. I dumped out at least half the coconut oil from my food processor and it was still oily. I even added more coconut butter. I finally tried a little coconut milk which helped it not be so gritty but it was still too oily. Is coconut oil the correct ingredient, or is it supposed to be coconut milk? I think regular frosting/glaze is made with powdered sugar and milk. I used it anyway and stored the cake in the fridge.

I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. It sounds maybe like the coconut oil you used was liquid and that was probably the problem. When I made it everything was at room temperature in a fairly cool climate, so it was soft but still semi-solid.

This was SUCH a lovely cake! Delightful in every way – from ease of making to how beautiful it turned out. I added a few drops of lemon essential oil and lemon zest to the frosting and it was sublime! Thank you thank you!

I made these and realised my applesauce went bad… almost flipped then realised i could substitute banana puree for it. I didn’t even make the frosting and I must say this cake IS BY FAR THE BEST AIP BAKE I’ve ever made.
You’re an angel. THANK YOU!

May I substitute some other flour than coconut without messing up the recipe. I can’t tolerate coconut which is a real bummer for baked goods.

I’m sorry – you really can’t substitute one flour for another in a recipe, especially coconut flour, without dramatically changing the result. Better to just look for a recipe that was developed without it.

WOW!! I made this cake today for my son’s birthday. It was a HUGE hit!! Even the “regular” eaters loved it!! Thanks so much for this recipe!!

I can’t have coconut, so I successfully substituted the coconut flour for rice flour (in case anyone else has reintroduced it) by using only a third of the amount of water. It came out great! The kids and I made it for my birthday last week.
It really came out with a great pumpkin spice sort of flavor that I wasn’t expecting!

I found this recipe a year ago and have been making it often ever since. I never leave reviews for recipes but wanted to say thank you soooo much for this one! My son has so many food allergies and I am breastfeeding him so have the same diet. This cake has been one of the few baked things he will eat! He is allergic to coconut so we sub a standard gf flour mix that uses rice flour and just use 1.5 c of cassava and it works great! It is so helpful for those of us with allergies…thank you!

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