Gluten-Free Whole Grain Apple Cider Layer Cake

Longtime TABLE Magazine contributor Quelcy Kogel whipped up this dreamy dessert for our Winter 2016 issue. Readers continue to ask for it, so we had to bring it back. It’s also found on Quelcy’s blog,

Classic holiday spices and a hint of whiskey combine in a moist apple cake with a dark chocolate frosting. It’s gluten-free to please a holiday crowd. The cake in the photo was really festive with the garnishes, but the cake stands on its own if you’re not feeling so ornate.

Gluten-Free Whole Grain Apple Cider Layer Cake Recipe

Adapted by Quelcy Kogel from Brooklyn Homemaker
Servings: 12 to 20


2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored, and roughly chopped
2 cups apple cider
1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3/4 cup organic buttermilk, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons whiskey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 1/4 cups gluten-free flour mix (such as King Arthur Flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature (plus more for pans)
1 1/4 cup organic raw cane sugar
3/4 cup packed organic light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature (cage-free/organic)
1/3 cup safflower oil (non-gmo/organic)
Chocolate cream cheese frosting (recipe below)

Garnishes (Optional)
Cinnamon sticks
Pistachio macarons
Chocolate shavings
Fresh rosemary
Pine cones
Powdered sugar


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Brush the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch springform cake pans with butter.
  2. In medium saucepan, bring chopped apples, cider, and rosemary sprig to boil over medium-high heat. As apple begins to fall apart, remove the sprig of rosemary, stir and whisk with a fork to try to mash and break up the apples as much as possible. Reduce heat slightly and simmer and reduce, stirring frequently, until mixture measures approximately 1 ½-2 cups, about 20 minutes.
  3. Cool the apple rosemary mixture at least 5 minutes in a large measuring cup before mixing in buttermilk, whiskey and vanilla. Set aside.
  4. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon; set aside.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add oil and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute.
  7. Decrease mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with apple mixture, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Increase speed to medium and beat mixture just until combined, about 30 seconds.
  8. Evenly divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until cake tester inserted in cake comes out clean, rotating cakes halfway through baking, about 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer cakes to cooling rack for about 20 or 30 minutes, before carefully removing the cakes from the pans to cool the rest of the way.
  9. Cool completely, about 1 hour, before assembly. Just before assembly, remove parchment if still stuck to the cakes.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe


12 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (Guittard Akoma Extra Semisweet)
16 ounces organic Neufchatel cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons organic unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Let stand until just warm, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Put cream cheese and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Mix in melted chocolate until combined. Use immediately.

Recipe and Styling by Quelcy Kogel / Photography by Janelle Bendycki

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