This Welsh Apple Cake or Teisen Fala is a family favourite tea time bake that is incredibly easy to prepare with just 5 everyday ingredients, and makes good use of a few apples that need using up. As we are a vegan family recipe blog we recommend using plant-based margarine and plant-based milk but if you have different dietary needs this apple cake has been baked with butter and milk for at least a hundred years so use whatever you prefer. The apple cake is naturally egg-free. This easy apple cake is ideal for any stray Halloween apples, or harvested apples, that require using up.
Welsh apple cake is naturally egg free, so is ideal for vegans, plant-based diets and those who allergies who require an egg-free diet, and although the original recipe is not butter-free, switching the butter out for vegan butter or dairy-free baking margarine is a simple swop and works really well. This apple cake is the ideal vegan apple pudding recipe and is also great for budget-friendly bakes and filling hungry tummies!
🐉 What is a Welsh apple cake?
A Welsh apple cake is a simple cake that is prepared with a few pantry staples - butter, sugar, flour, and milk, and a few fresh apples that would have been gathered from local apple trees. It can be enjoyed as it is with a nice cup of tea, or sliced and spread with butter much like a tea loaf or cake, or along with pouring or whipped cream. Its the perfect homely cake to enjoy along with afternoon tea, high tea, or simply just for tea time.
This Welsh Apple Cake has crisp sweet edges and a moist sweet and fruity apple sponge crumb. The apples retain a bite but are still nice and soft. A slice of warm apple cake makes a nice change from the usual apple pies and apple tarts, apple crisps and apple crumbles. Although we did find that the flavours and textures of this apple cake are quite similar to a homely apple pie.
📜 Origins of Welsh apple cake
This Welsh Apple Cake recipe is taken from the wee book by Bobby Freeman - ''Welsh Country Cookery Traditional Recipes from the Country Kitchens of Wales''. [1988, 2003]. Freeman's recipes are divided by seasonal relevancy - spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The apple cake can be found within the Winter chapter on page 64.
The origins of Teisen Fala are intertwined with Welsh culture as apples have been a staple in the Welsh diet for centuries. The Welsh climate is ideal for many types of apple tree. Wales also has a long dairy heritage so adding butter to cakes was very common-place, however during those frequent times when the budget was lean and staples scarce the butter would have been replaced with dripping or bacon fat.
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The word "Teisen" means cake in Welsh, and "Fala" is derived from 'afal', the Welsh word for apple. Apple cake was a popular staple in Welsh homes, particularly during apple harvesting season, and throughout the winter months, in rural areas - so it can be considered an old-fashioned harvest cake.
Recipes like Welsh apple cake were traditionally passed down orally, or handwritten, from one generation to the next, so there are variations between Welsh family recipes for the apple cake depending on the family and the region. Some old or more modern recipes might include spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, whereas others might add a splash of Welsh whisky for good measure.
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For another traditional apple cake recipe do have a look at our British Eve's Pudding recipe which features stewed apples cooked under a cinnamon sponge. Wales has a similar traditional dessert called - Pwdin Eva or Pwdin Efa - which is essentially a Welsh Eve's Pudding.
Welsh apple cake is the sort of old-fashioned recipe that would have been handed down through the family generations either as a collection of hand written family recipes, word-of-mouth, or by watching or helping your mum, nana, granny, or grandma bake the cake. In North Wales grandmothers are likely to be referred to as ''nain'' whereas in South Wales they are likely to go by the fond term ''mama-gu''.
[The 'grandmothers' link goes to welearnwelsh.com where you can find out more interesting Welsh language information as well as learn the correct pronunciations.]
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🍎 Apples in Welsh Folklore
In Welsh folklore and mythology, apples hold a sacred place. The Isle of Apples, or Avalon as it's widely known, is intertwined with the legends of King Arthur. Avalon is often thought to be derived from the Welsh 'Annwfn,' a mystical otherworld where heroes and spirits reside.
In these legends, apples are symbols of life, healing, and immortality. Arthur himself is said to have been taken to Avalon to heal his wounds, emphasizing the apple's restorative powers.
🍏 Welsh apple harvest festivals
Apples have also been central to traditional Welsh harvest festivals. These festivals celebrate the harvest bounty and are a time for communities to come together to celebrate. Apples were used in various forms throughout Welsh history from fresh fruit, cakes, puddings, pies, breads, dumplings, pancakes, preserves such as apple ginger, and drinks such as apple cider, apple wine, and Wassail bowl's, so they were a crop worthy of celebrating.
In modern times, Wales still has apple festivals and celebrations during the harvest season such as the Erddig's Apple Festival, National Botanic Trust of Wales Apple Weekend, Festafal at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, all held throughout October. These celebrations occur during the UK wide National Apple Day held annually on the 21st October, since 1990, when it was started by the English charity Common Grounds.
🥣 How to prepare
This is such an easy and relatively quick cake to make and bake. You only need 5 store-cupboard ingredients - self-raising [self-rising] flour, vegan margarine or butter, brown sugar, 4 medium sized apples, and plant-based milk.
This cake is a nice moist cake and is especially good for an old-fashioned dessert or pudding served with hot vegan custard.
Step 1: Gather all your ingredients together, pre-heat the oven, and prepare the cake pan.
Step 2: Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the vegan margarine sliced into pieces.
Step 3: Using your finger tips rub the margarine into the flour until rough looking breadcrumbs are formed.
Step 4: Stir through the brown sugar.
Step 5: Prepare the apples by peeling, removing the core, and slicing the apple into very small pieces.
Step 6: Stir the apple pieces through the flour mixture.
Step 7: Pour in the milk and stir into a stiff cake batter.
Step 8: Scoop the cake mixture into the cake pan and even out the surface.
Step 9: Bake for 35-40 minutes.
Step 10: Cool in the cake tin for about 20-30 minutes before carefully removing from the pan to cool completely on a cooling rack. Or enjoy a slice warm along with some hot custard or vegan cream.
📋 Recipe notes
This cake can be wrapped in parchment or greaseproof paper and stored in a cake tin for up to 3-4 days. It can also be stored well wrapped and kept in the refrigerator if your kitchen is quite warm.
The cake can be frozen, wrapped with food wrap and a second layer of kitchen foil or popped into a freezer safe bag, and frozen for 3-4 months.
You can eat this apple cake either warm from baking, at room temperature, chilled from the refrigerator, or warmed up in the oven. The cake will have crisp edges on the day of baking that will become more moist as its stored. If desired the edges can be re-crisped by following the reheating guide below.
The original recipe suggests eating the cake warm and served with ''lots of cream''. We like the Elmlea plant-based cream as it can be used as a pouring cream or whipped with a cake whisk until thick. Alternatively, enjoy the cake warm with a few scoops of plant-based ice-cream for an easy pudding, or with a good dollop of thick warm custard.
To reheat the cake place it into the oven a notch below the cooking temperature, and reheat for 5-10 minutes, or until warmed up. If your concerned the cake may brown too much, it can be covered in kitchen or aluminium foil.
You can use any apples you like for apple cake including cooking, dessert, or sweet and tangy eating apples. Simply use whatever apples you happen to have and can access easily. We happened to have Royal Gala apples in our refrigerator that needed used up so they were put to good use in our apple cake.
If you can't access self-raising flour [self-rising flour is the same thing] and would prefer to use plain or all-purpose flour then you can make your own by adding 2 teaspoons of baking powder, a quarter teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda [baking soda], and a quarter teaspoon of salt to your plain flour. Sift the baking soda and baking powder into your flour and mix well to ensure they are well incorporated.
We like to use soya milk for baking as it has a high protein content that makes it work very well in baking, but we have also had success with oat milk and almond milk. But really, you can use whatever milk you already use for baking and cooking.
Yes, you can easily replace the apples with pears although you may need a few more pears if the pears are quite small. We use 4 medium apples which weighed 480 grams before they were peeled and cored, so the end prepped weight was 270 grams [2 ½ cups] of chopped apples.
Adding ground or powdered spices would be a tasty addition to this apple cake. Any spices that you would add to an apple pie will also compliment the flavours of this cake. So spices such as apple pie spice mix, pumpkin pie spice mix, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice, all pair well with apple cake.
We have not tested this cake yet with gluten-free ingredients but judging by experience we would replace the flour with a gluten-free self-raising flour and add ¼ teaspoon of xanthium gum, if the flour mix did not already contain it. We use the Dove's Farm Freee gluten-free flour for our gluten-free baking.
Yes, if you are not vegan or plant-based then you can use butter or dairy milk for this cake as the original recipe calls for those ingredients.
We are a vegan recipe blog so we use plant-based ingredients such as vegan-friendly baking margarine and plant-based milk, so we will always recommend those ingredients, but of course for other dietary requirements you can use the ingredients that you normally use.
For most of our bakes we like to use Stork baking block or spread as its tailored for baking and is vegan-friendly. We also like to use vegan butter such as Flora Plant Butter but we use that less often as its quite expensive where we live.
Whatever baking fat, butter, or margarine that you choose for baking be sure that it is suitable for baking with and that it is not a diet or lite margarine, as those tend to contain too much water which can affect the texture of your bake.
A slice of Welsh apple cake and a nice cup of tea is the perfect way to mark the National Day of Wales- St David's Day [1st March].
👪 More traditional Welsh recipes made vegan
Traditional recipes are for everyone to enjoy and if you have different dietary needs then why should that stop you preparing your old favourites as well as appreciating new favourites?
Preparing plant-based and vegan versions does not take away from the original recipes rather it helps keep them alive for a new generation, and what could be better than that?
So far we have only three Welsh recipes - The National dish of Wales: Vegan Welsh Cawl Soup the old-time family favourite: Welsh Bakestone Cakes and the absolutely delicious: Welsh Onion Cake - but we have many more to come as we love all the traditional Welsh recipes we have prepared so far.
Although our British Eve's Pudding recipe is not Welsh, there is a traditional Welsh Eve's Pudding called - Pwdin Eva or Pwdin Efa - so we have included our recipe below as its very similar and is another useful recipe for using up apples for a budget-friendly bake.
***please note: for US measurements click the 'US customary button' within the recipe and the measurements will switch to tablespoons, cups, and ounces.***
Welsh Apple Cake
- shallow cake pan [about 8-9 inch diameter or a similar sized square pan]
- parchment or baking paper [for lining the cake pan]
- Mixing bowl
- paring knife
- cutting board
- cooling rack
- 275 grams self-raising flour [self-rising flour]
- 150 grams plant-based margarine [or vegan butter, or your usual baking fat]
- 150 grams soft brown sugar [brown sugar]
- 4 medium apples [peeled, cored, and chopped into very small pieces, can be cooking apples, or ordinary eating, dessert apples] [our 4 apples weighed 480 grams before prepping. Once peeled and cored we had 270 grams (2 ½ cups) of chopped apple]
- 80 mililitres plant-based milk [such as soya or oat milk, or your usual milk]
Preheat the oven to 160 Fan, 180C, 350 Fahrenheit, Gas 4.
- Prepare the cake pan by greasing it with some of the margarine and lining with baking parchment.
- Add the flour to a mixing bowl along with the margarine broken into little bits.275 grams self-raising flour, 150 grams plant-based margarine
- Using your fingertips rub the margarine into the flour until it resembles rough breadcrumbs.
- Stir through the sugar.150 grams soft brown sugar
- Stir through the chopped apples pieces.4 medium apples
- Pour in the milk and mix into a stiff batter.[Please note: The original recipe states to add milk to the cake mixture until a ''fairly stiff dough'' is formed. We found that 80 millilitres was enough but depending on the humidity of your kitchen you may require a little less milk. Slowly add the milk to the batter and stir until the mixture is quite stiff. You may not require all the milk. Have a look at our step by step photos above this recipe for photo guidance of the texture of the cake dough or batter.].80 mililitres plant-based milk
- Scoop the batter into the cake pan and level it out evenly.
- Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for around 35-40 minutes. Check fan ovens a few minutes earlier as they tend to bake faster. The cake is ready when it is golden, firm, and a skewer popped in the middle comes out clean.
- Cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
- Enjoy warm or at room temperature with vegan pouring cream or whipped cream, hot custard, or a scoop of plant-based ice cream. Or on its own with a nice cup of tea.
- This cake can be wrapped in parchment or greaseproof paper and stored in a cake tin for up to 3-4 days. It can also be stored well wrapped and kept in the refrigerator if your kitchen is quite warm.
- The cake will have crisp edges on the day of baking that will become more moist as its stored. If desired the edges can be re-crisped by following the reheating guide below.
- The cake can be frozen, wrapped with food wrap and a second layer of kitchen foil or popped into a freezer safe bag, and frozen for 3-4 months.
- You can eat this apple cake either warm from the oven, at room temperature, chilled from the refrigerator, or warmed up in the oven.
- Enjoy a slice with some vegan pouring or whipped cream, hot custard, or a scoop of plant-based ice-cream.
- To reheat the cake place it into the oven a notch below the cooking temperature, and reheat for 5-10 minutes, or until warmed up. If your concerned the cake may brown too much, it can be covered in kitchen or aluminium foil.
- You can use any type of apples for this recipe - cooking, dessert, sweet apples. We used Royal Gala which are sweet and tangy.
- We used 4 medium apples that weighed 479 grams before preparing, once peeled and cored the yield reduced to - 270 grams [2 ½ cups].
- Imperial weights for the ingredients stated within the ''Welsh Country Cookery'' book by Bobby Freeman, - 10 oz self-raising flour, 5 oz butter, 5 oz brown sugar, 1 Ib cooking apples, and milk to mix.
- The original recipe states to add milk to the cake mixture until a ''fairly stiff dough'' is formed. We found that 80 millilitres was enough but depending on the humidity of your kitchen you may require a little less milk. Slowly add the milk to the batter and stir until the mixture is quite stiff. Have a look at our step by step photos above this recipe for photo guidance of the texture of the cake dough or batter.
Prepared the Welsh Apple Cake recipe? We would love to know how you got on with the recipe so do drop us a comment below and click the star ratings. Its very much appreciated.
Did you grow up enjoying Welsh apple cake? It would be wonderful if you would share your family traditions with this cake and any fond memories.
Thanks so much, Jacq x