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Red Apple & Treacle Fruit Cake

A rich fruit cake full of apples, raisins, citrus, treacle and spices. No dairy and no eggs, just lots of flavour.

Sliced Red Apple & Treacle Fruit Cake on a Wooden Board

When a wee jute bag full of sweet, juicy apples from South Africa arrived on my doorstep, I thought cake.

Why cake? 

I'd been thinking about the rich apple fruit cake I used to make for my dad. It was made with two green apples grated straight into the cake batter, which made it a really moist fruit cake. I don't know why I stopped making it. I fear a lack of time was to blame.

The original cake was thick with butter and eggs. I wanted to take the idea of that cake, make a vegan version with a few tweaks to the flavours, but still end up with a rich fruity cake.

South African Red Gala Apples in front of jute bag

South African Fruit

Why is South African fruit so good?

They have steep hillsides, rich soil and all the sunshine we are usually lacking (here in the UK) as well as over 100 years of experience.

They are looking after their workers too with the government providing education, housing and farm management opportunities for their workers.

You may be surprised how much of the fruit you pick up in supermarkets is from South Africa. Next time you are shopping, check out the labels on peaches, nectarines, apples, pears and plums.

Red Gala Apples

Gala Apples

South African apples are available from March to October each year.  There are four main varieties, Granny Smith; Gala; Golden Delicious and Pink Lady.

Gala apples are a yellow apple with red stripes. They have a firm crunch and are very sweet, which is probably why they are so popular.

red apple with bite out of it

Why are apples good for you?

The saying goes "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" and that's not just silly little rhyme, there is actually a lot of truth in it.

One apple provides:

  1. One of your Five-a-Day 
  2. Low in Fat
  3. No Cholesterol
  4. High in Vitamin C
  5. High in Dietary Fibre
  6. A good source of Potassium
  7. Full of antioxidants

No Eggs or Dairy

I wanted this to be a cake anyone could enjoy. Meat-eaters, vegetarians, vegans and those on a dairy-free or egg-free diet. It's not gluten free but it covers a lot of bases.

Butter Substitutes

Instead of butter I use a dairy free spread. Many margarines are now plant-based or offer a plant-based option. They can be used gram for gram (or cup for cup) as a straight swap for butter.

You can also use a vegetable fat like Trex.

Egg Substitutes

There are many different substitutes for eggs in baking.


These are often used in banana bread but can be mashed into a gloop and added to other bakes, giving an extra fruity flavour.

1 egg = 1 ripe mashed banana

Potato Starch in Water

The combination of potato starch and water are a good egg replacer in bread and muffins. You can buy it in supermarkets and health food shops as a powder.

1 egg = 1 tablespoon potato starch and 2 tablespoon water

Cornflour (also known as corn starch or cornmeal) 

This works in a similar way to the potato starch and is a good egg replacer in cookies, cakes and bread, where the result is a softer cake or bread. It's only strong enough to replace 1-2 eggs.

1 egg = 1 tablespoon cornflour and 3 tablespoons of water

Ground Flax or Chia Seeds

These make a good binding mixture when mixed with water to make waffles, pancakes, cookies, muffins and cakes.

1 egg = 1 tablespoon ground flax or chia seeds and 3 tablespoons of water

Apple Sauce

You will find jars of this in the supermarket. Usually bought to serve with meaty dishes, it's actually a good egg replacer. It makes cakes and muffins soft and moist.

1 egg = 50ml (3 scant tablespoons)

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Making Flax Eggs

Step by step photos of making flax eggs

I used flax eggs for this fruit cake. Just in case you haven't made flax eggs before, I took a few photos to show you how easy they are to make and the texture of the flax eggs.

  1. Measure out 2 tablespoons of flax seeds, which are also known as linseeds. Often it is cheaper to buy then under the name of linseeds. Companies seem to bump the price when they call them flax seeds.
  2. Whizz them up into a powder in a blender, coffee grinder or food processor.
  3. Add 6 tablespoons of water and mix.
  4. Pop the mixture in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to thicken.
  5. That's it, they are ready to add to your cake batter in place of eggs.

Red Apple & Treacle Fruit Cake

step-by-step photos of making cake batter

1. You will need a 24 cm/9 1/2 inch loose bottom cake tin.

2. Line the pan. I like to use cake inserts for quickness. I add a little vegan butter to the edges of the cake tin so the insert sticks to the edges. There is nothing worse than the lining paper flapping about when you are trying to pour in the cake batter.

3. Start by creaming the vegan butter (margarine) and demerara sugar.

4. Whisk them until they are soft and creamy.

Step-by-step photos of adding spices, citrus peel, treacle, flax eggs, then flour to fruit cake batter

5. Add the flax eggs, treacle, spices, lemon peel and orange peel.

6. Whisk until creamy.

7. Add the flour and baking powder.

8. Fold in gently with a spatula.

Adding raisins and apples to cake batter

9. Add the raisins and grated apples (dry on kitchen paper before adding) and fold in gently.

10. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and smooth. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a rich brown and a skewer comes out clean.

fruit cake, vegan fruit cake, apple cake, dairy free cake, egg free cake, dairy free fruit cake, egg free fruit cake, vegan apple cake
dessert, baking
British, vegan
Yield: serves 8-10
Author: Jacqueline Meldrum

Close up of Red Apple & Treacle Fruit Cake

Red Apple & Treacle Fruit Cake

A rich fruit cake full of apples, raisins, citrus, treacle and spices. No dairy and no eggs, just lots of flavour.
prep time: 20 Mcook time: 1 hourtotal time: 1 H & 20 M


  • 200g/7/8 cup vegan butter (margarine)
  • 200g/1 cup demerara brown sugar
  • 2 flax eggs (see notes)
  • 2 tbsp treacle
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • grated peel of 1 lemon
  • grated peel of 1 orange
  • 200g/1 cup self-raising flour
  • 300g/2 cups raisins
  • 2 red apples, coarsely grated (with the peel on & patted dry on kitchen paper)


How to cook Red Apple & Treacle Fruit Cake

  1. Make your flax eggs and pop them in the fridge to thicken (see notes below).
  2. Heat the oven to 180c/ fan 160c/ gas mark 4.
  3. Line a 24 cm/9 1/2 inch loose bottom cake tin with non-stick baking paper or a cake liner.
  4. Cream the vegan butter and sugar until soft.
  5. Add the treacle, flax eggs, spices and citrus peel, then whisk until well combined.
  6. Add the flour and baking powder and fold in gently.
  7. Add the raisins and grated apple and once again fold in gently.
  8. Pour the batter into your prepared cake tin and bake  in the oven for an hour to an hour and 10 minutes. Check about 40 minutes in. If it's browning too much, cover with foil and pop back in.
  9. Check with a skewer to see if it is ready. When inserted, it should come out clean of batter.
  10. Leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes, then release from the tin carefully and move to a baking rack to cool completely.
  11. Enjoy!


Flax eggs - for 2 flax eggs, whizz 2 tbsp flax seeds (linseeds) into a powder. Pour into a bowl with 6 tbsp water and stir well. Pop in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to thicken and use in place of eggs.

Baking tin - if you have a smaller baking tin, your cake will be deeper and may need a little longer to bake. Use the skewer test to see if the cake is baked. If it comes out clean the cake s ready.

Browning too quickly? If your cake is browning too quickly when you check it near the end of cooking, pop some foil over it to prevent it browning further.
Created using The Recipes Generator


Vegan Gingerbread Cupcakes with Pineapple Frosting on board

Vegan Gingerbread Cupcakes with Pineapple Frosting

Dairy and egg free gingerbread cupcakes. Soft cupcakes full of the taste of treacle and spices topped with a dairy free pineapple frosting.


  1. That looks great Jacquline. I think my daughter would like this one and it looks easy enough to make. My cake tin is smaller, but I think it would be okay. Jill

    1. Yes a smaller cake tin is fine, just keep checking on it, it may need longer. Hope your daughter enjoys it.

  2. This cake looks so moist, fluffy and amazing! I have always enjoyed adding a shower of apples in some of my cakes and this helps in increasing the moisture as well as decrease the sugar in it! Fabulous share!

    1. Thanks and yes it does make the cake lovely and moist. I hope you try it.

  3. I wouldn't be able to tell that this is egg-free and looks so moist and delicious! Thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks and yes just simple changes. I don't believe in adding lots of artificial ingredients to cakes, when you can make easy swaps.

  4. Bintu | Recipes From A PantryTuesday, 02 July, 2019

    What a delicious looking cake! I love that it is dairy free and egg free too so everyone can enjoy.

  5. You're right Jacqueline, South African fruits are so delicious. In Kenya we get a fair of fruits from there, apples being one of them. As for the cake, it does looks so rich and like a proper fruit cake. Can't believe its made without eggs. Bookmarked this recipe to try out as I love apple cakes. Thanks for sharing the various ways we can replace eggs in baking. Using potato starch is new to me.

  6. The cake looks amazing. I can't believe that it's eggless. Thanks for sharing how to make flax eggs. Good tip to buy them as linseeds. I too have noticed the price difference!!

  7. This apple cake sounds delicious - It reminds me of one that my Mom use to make that had a ton of layers and loads of eggs. I appreciate that this recipe is egg free!


I love reading comments, so thank you for taking the time to leave one. Unfortunately, I'm bombarded with spam, so I've turned on comment moderation. I'll publish your comments as soon as I can and respond to them. Don't panic, they will disappear when you hit publish. Jac x