• Prep-time: / Ready In:
  • Makes one 9-inch cake + 1¼ cups compote

Applesauce and polenta form the base of this naturally sweet and perfectly moist vegan cake, which makes a gorgeous addition to any Thanksgiving or holiday spread. A homemade cherry compote with autumnal spices adds extra sweetness and a hint of tanginess. This recipe is gluten-free if you use gluten-free oat flour. The cake tastes best served warm: If you make it ahead of time, place it on an oven-going platter and warm in a 350°F oven about 20 minutes.

polenta apple cake


  • 1½ cups frozen cherries
  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 whole star anise (optional)
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 cup dry polenta
  • 1 cup unsweetened, unflavored plant-based milk
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup oat flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 medium unpeeled apples


  1. Make Cherry Compote: In a small saucepan combine cherries, 1 cup of the applesauce, the cinnamon, star anise (if using), cloves, and 1 cup water. mix well. Cook over medium-low about 20 minutes or until thick and syrupy, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; discard star anise. Use a potato masher to crush cherries to a pulp. Cool and chill until ready to serve.
  2. In a large mixing bowl stir together the remaining 1 cup applesauce, the polenta, plant milk, maple syrup, vinegar, and vanilla. Let stand 20 minutes. In a small bowl whisk together the next five ingredients (through baking soda).
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
  4. Core apples and slice into ¼-inch-thick wedges. Arrange apple slices in rows or a spiral pattern in the cake pan, working from the center outward to completely cover the base of pan.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture, stirring well. Pour batter over apples, spreading evenly.
  6. Bake about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan at least 30 minutes. Invert onto a serving platter. Serve warm with Cherry Compote.

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about the author

Darshana Thacker

Darshana Thacker is chef and culinary project manager for Forks Over Knives. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, she is the author of Forks Over Knives: Flavor! She created the recipes for Forks Over Knives Family and was a lead recipe contributor to the New York Times bestseller The Forks Over Knives Plan. Her recipes have been published in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook, Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health, and LA Yoga magazine online. Visit DarshanasKitchen.com for more.

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