Recipe: Easy Gluten-Free Cranberry Apple Cake

Leave it to my CSA bin to throw me the Thanksgiving curve ball.  Seriously.  Everything in my bin this past week (which delivered the day before Thanksgiving) fit, somehow, into a Thanksgiving meal.  I had carrots, potatoes, yams, celery, apples, onions, green beans, fresh herbs, local lettuce…you get the picture.  The one item, however, that I was most unfamiliar with…was the fresh cranberries I received.


My initial thought was to go ahead and make my own cranberry sauce to take to Thanksgiving with my roommate’s family.  I could do something with the potatoes and yams as well.  However…potatoes had been planned a long time ago, yams are always canned (*gag*) and the cranberry sauce is always out of a can as well (YUCK!).  Needless to say…I had a lot of Thanksgiving items and very little Thanksgiving to contribute.  I was in charge of the vegetable, and made up a fantastic green bean recipe that I posted last week.  So…lots to play around with at home.


I called in the big guns…and did a Google search for some recipes that would involve cranberries…be vegetarian…and not be too complicated.  I had it down to two options…but my roommate made the choice in the end.

The winning recipe comes from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa herself, and I only tweaked it slightly to make it gluten-free.  Aside from that…the recipe stands.

Recipe: Easy Gluten-Free Cranberry Apple Cake

Easy Gluten-Free Cranberry Apple Cake
Easy Gluten-Free Cranberry Apple Cake

Servings: 6-8
Time: Prep 20 minutes; Bake 60 minutes


  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1-1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled (I used Smart Balance)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I used Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I used Arrowhead Mills Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes.  With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined.  On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate.

Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely.

Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

A slice of the Gluten-Free Cranberry and Apple Cake
A slice of the Gluten-Free Cranberry and Apple Cake


So…how was the end result?  I couldn’t be happier with it.  Cranberries and apples are a perfect pairing, and when you hit it with the acidity of the orange, you really get a great balance of flavors.  But the absolute star of this dessert is the crust…that cake-y bit on top.  It’s sweet, soft in the middle, but golden and crusty on the outside.  The cinnamon and sugar on top just makes it pop.

It’s really a combination of a pie, a cake, and a crumble…but, wow…is it ever good.

If I am ever handed cranberries in my CSA bin again, I now have a fantastic, delicious, and worthy recipe to turn to.

And my “I don’t really like cranberries” roommate fell in love with this at first bite.  So…even if you are unsure about the cranberries, I encourage you to try it.  Honestly…it all comes together brilliantly in the end.

Another recipe adaption gluten-free baking success!

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