brown butter apple cake

Today is my last day at home after three weeks off work to recuperate after having my troublesome gallbladder removed. I really thought that I’d use my enforced sick leave far more productively than I have and I had such grand plans. It turns out though that I totally underestimated the effect that losing part of my anatomy would have on my body and it’s only been in the last few days that I’ve started to feel like anything approaching normal. Which isn’t a moment too soon given that it’s now just two weeks (and a crucial day) until we get married.

I had been hoping that I’d get back on track with the blog while I was off sick which has clearly not happened, not least because I wasn’t able to reach down to put anything in the oven for about 10 days. This cake was, however, the last thing that my poor gallbladder helped me to digest before it went on to better things. My surgery wasn’t until later in the afternoon so I was told to eat breakfast that morning. I’m not entirely sure that a slice of cake and a dribble of cream was exactly what my doctor had in mind but it seemed to serve me well enough.

The cake itself is relatively simple, albeit with a long and slow baking time. The recipe is as perfect as you would expect from a Mary Berry recipe although I have slightly tweaked the flavour profile to my tastes (and, it goes without saying, to make it gluten free). I love the contrast between the soft apples in the middle of the cake and the tender crumb. I like to bake it a little on the longer side so that the edges of the cake become a little firm and crisp. Plus the smell as it bakes is pretty dreamy so anything that prolongs that can only be a good thing.

brown butter apple cake
brown butter apple cake

brown butter apple cake

brown butter apple cake {gluten free}

Yield: Serves 6 - 8

This is a really delicious cake, heavy in vanilla and caramel and filled with gently squidgy apples. I like to play up the warm notes with brown butter and brown sugar but a little spice (ginger or cinnamon for choice) doesn't go amiss either.


  • 150g (1 1/3 sticks) unsalted butter plus extra for greasing
  • 225g (1 1/4 cups) light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 150g (1 cup + 1 tablespoon) rice flour
  • 50g (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • 25g (1/4 cup) corn starch / corn flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 - 3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • Flaked almonds, for the top
  • Cream or ice cream, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 140C / 280F (fan). Line a 20-cm loose bottomed cake tin with non-stick paper and grease well with butter.
  2. In a small pan over a medium heat, melt the butter and allow it to bubble until it turns golden brown and begins to smell nutty. Set aside to cool a little.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the cooled butter and sugar until light in colour. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and add the vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk together all of the flours, the baking powder and salt and fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
  5. Spread about half the batter across the bottom of the prepared tin. Add a layer of apples, leaving a small border along the edge. It's absolutely fine to add a couple of layers of apple slices - they'll just get all soft and squishy and juicy. Cover with the remaining batter trying to cover the apples as far as possible and scatter with flaked almonds.
  6. Bake the cake for about an hour and a half until the top is firm and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before removing from the tin - note that the amount of liquid in the cake from the apples means that it's quite hard to move this cake around in one piece so you might want to keep it on the base of the tin. I think this cake is nicest served warm with cream/ice cream but it's delicious when cold too.


Lightly adapted from Mary Berry's Apple Dessert Cake
Tagged with →  
26 Responses to "brown butter apple cake {gluten free}"
  1. Katrina says:

    Cake after surgery seems like a good idea to me! This looks AWESOME! Happy to hear you’re healing girl :)

  2. Magda says:

    Hope you feel better soon, Kathryn. I’ve had a gallbladder operation several years ago and even though I was out of the hospital in a day, it took some time to heal. Any operation will do that to you. Patience is all that’s needed.
    The cake looks so good! Good luck with the wedding!

  3. Oh I hope you are feeling better Kathryn! I’m glad you made the most of that last meal before surgery with a slice of cake, I’m totally in support of that move. Happy happy almost-wedding! After its all over we can reminisce and eat cake together, right? :)

  4. Erika says:

    I hope you get well soon my dear. This cake looks and sounds incredible. I do love a good apple cake, especially for breakfast.

  5. cynthia says:

    Oh goodness, hope you feel better so soon, Kathryn! That operation sounds like no small thing — hope you’ve been getting lots and lots of rest. Especially with the big day coming up, YAY!!!! I can’t contain my excitement from all the way over here :D This cake looks so splendidly good — I lol’ed at your line that this wasn’t what the doctor had in mind, but I can’t think of anything tastier I’d like to have right before surgery. Sending you healing vibes and hugs! GOOD LUCK and YAY for your wedding in two weeks!

  6. Oh man, you take care over there! Any sort of operation is a BIG DEAL, not least one where you have a friggin’ organ removed. Get lots of rest (especially before your wedding, ahhh!) and don’t beat yourself up about not blogging, lol. We’ll all still be here whenever you’re ready to come back ;-)

  7. OMG! his tbutter apple cake is amazing, hope you god start of work

  8. Oh man! You take care of yourself. 10 days of not feeling well can’t be fun. I’ve had a cold for 1 day and am already going a bit batty. I hope you heal up well before your special day (which I’m sure you will!). 2 weeks! Eee! So happy for you Kathryn. I cannot wait to read all about it and hopefully see some pics :). And you are too cute making this for your morning-of-surgery-breakfast. Haha. I adore you.

  9. What a delicious cake! It seems so so good <3

  10. I hope your recovery is going well, Kathryn, and that you’re feeling 100% for your wedding! This cake looks lovely. I <3 Mary Berry, she is a legend and her recipes always turn out right for me. I made a gluten-free baked thing for the first time yesterday!! (like, where I actually had to substitute flour for something else, not something that was naturally gluten-free) it was brownies with rice flour instead of regular flour, and they may have actually turned out even fudgier and gooey-er than with reg flour… my world has been turned upside down a little bit!

  11. Oh, Kathryn! I hope you continue recovering from surgery well. And like Michelle said, we’ll be here whenever you get back – waiting for more stunning bakes + stories from your wedding. (!!) Congratulations!

  12. I love that you had this cake the morning before your surgery :-) I could use a slice of this right now.
    I always underestimate recuperation time, and am impatient to get going again. I hope you can find more time to rest and recuperate before the big day.
    Be well and take it easy <3

  13. Glad to hear you’re healing well, Kathryn! And I’m glad you’ve taken a bit of a break. This cake looks lovely, just the kind of thing I’d like to sink my teeth into right now!

  14. Amanda Paa says:

    i’m glad you are the road to recovery, and wish it could have been easier on you. :( it seems we always underestimate how much our bodies needs rest, and rebuilding.

    i like your style of having cake before arriving at the hospital. :) it sure looks soft and dense, and perfectly sweet. thinking of you, xo.

  15. Medeja says:

    That’s a lovely apple cake! Looks really nice for teatime.

  16. Kate says:

    Oh you poor thing going through such a horrible operation just before your wedding! But sounds like you’ve been fortifying yourself with all the right kinds of food (cake being the most important food group) and this looks delicious. Can’t wait to hear more about the wedding – let’s definitely get a catch up in once you’re back from HONEYMOON!!! xxx

  17. Hope you’re feeling on the mend, thanks for sharing such a lovely recipe. I can’t eat it but I can appreciate how good it is and imagine… :)

  18. Lindsey says:

    oh my goodness, i’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had to endure something like surgery right before your wedding! i hope you’re recuperating and starting to feel like yourself again! but i’m sure this cake was just the thing to soothe you – i can just imagine how wonderful a buttery almond cake must be! cheers to a speedy recovery and an amazing couple weeks leading up to your big day! xo

  19. Ohh Kathryn I hope you feel better soon!! Getting ANY type of surgery is so hard on your body and I hope your recovery has been as painless as possible. Sending a huuuge hug your way (but not too huge because I don’t want to hurt you!!!) XO Sarah

  20. I am so glad that you are back on your way to feeling good again. I hope you got some good tv watching in – pretty much the best part of being laid up, right?!

    I have everything in my pantry to make this cake. Happening this week! Lots of love, lady! <3

  21. Valeria says:

    Oh my Goodness, hope you are fully recovered now and feel better now. Sending you good vibes for the recovery and the big day! x

  22. Renee Kemps says:

    Oh no!! Hope you will feel better soon! The cake looks so amazing. Full of autumn flavours and perfect for the cosy and cold days!

  23. Erin says:

    I don’t know how I missed this post! So glad you are feeling better though. My mom had her gallbladder out a couple of years ago and I remember the recovery was worse than she had expected. Glad all sounds well now though!

  24. Puneeta says:

    Thanks for this recipe. It came out beautifully and was baked in an hour. Hope you are fully recovered from your surgery and congrats on your wedding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *