French Apple Cake

Tested & Perfected Recipes

With chunks of sweet apples nestled in a tender and buttery rum cake, this French apple cake is the essence of simplicity.

french apple cake

The summer after my junior year in college, I worked in Paris as an au pair for a family with three little boys. My host mother, Valerie, was a pharmacist by day and bon vivant by night. She was always entertaining and would frequently enlist my help in the kitchen once the kids were in bed. Baking was her specialty and I can still picture her standing over the sink, coring and peeling apples for her French apple cake.

I didn’t think to get her recipe back then, but this cake made with chunks of sweet apples nestled in a tender, buttery rum cake is pretty close to what I remember. Like so many French home baking recipes, it is the essence of simplicity.

What you’ll need to make French Apple Cake

how to make french apple cake

Be sure to select baking apples for this recipe. Baking apples hold their shape when baked, so the chunks of fruit won’t turn into applesauce in the oven. Tart-sweet varietals such as Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, Braeburn, and Jonagold are all good options. Feel free to combine different varieties for a more nuanced flavor.

How To Make French Apple Cake

how to make french apple cake

Begin by combining the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. No need to sift; just whisk well.

how to make french apple cake

Set aside. Then, in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

how to make french apple cake

Add the eggs one at a time.

how to make french apple cake

Beat in the vanilla extract and rum.

how to make french apple cake

It will look a little grainy at this point; that’s okay.

how to make french apple cake

Add the dry ingredients.

how to make french apple cake

Mix until just combined.

how to make french apple cake

Add the chopped apples.

how to make french apple cake

Use a rubber spatula to fold the apples into the batter.

how to make french apple cake

Have a 9-inch springform pan greased or a 9-inch cake pan greased, lined with parchment, and greased again.

how to make french apple cake

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and even the top.

how to make french apple cake

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.

how to make french apple cake

Bake the cake for about 40 minutes, until golden and crisp on top.

how to make french apple cake

Serve warm or room temperature, plain or with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

french apple cake

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French Apple Cake

With chunks of sweet apples nestled in a tender and buttery rum cake, this French apple cake is the essence of simplicity.

Servings: 6-8
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling over cake
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 baking apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I like Honeycrisp, Fuji or Granny Smith) (3-1/2 - 4 cups chopped)
  • Confectioners' sugar (optional), for decorating cake

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Grease a 9-inch springform or regular cake pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray. If using a regular cake pan, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and grease again.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and rum. Don't worry if the batter looks grainy at this point; that's okay. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chopped apples.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and even the top. Sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool on a rack in the pan. Once cool, run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake. If using a springform pan, remove the sides. If using a regular cake pan, carefully invert the cake onto the rack, remove the parchment paper, then gently flip the cake over and place right-side-up on a platter. Using a fine sieve, dust with confectioners' sugar (if using). Cake can be served warm or room temperature, plain or with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
  5. Freezer Friendly Instructions: The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, wrap it tightly with aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Calories: 279
  • Fat: 13g
  • Saturated fat: 8g
  • Carbohydrates: 35g
  • Sugar: 22g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Sodium: 66mg
  • Cholesterol: 77mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Love this cake !! Have made it several times.
    Can I bake this on Sunday and serve on Monday night for dinner ? Or is the cake best same day ?
    Thank you !

    • — Dibster on September 1, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like it! It keeps nicely for a few days so that should be fine. 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • Delicious: recipe worked perfectly. Thank you!

    • — Louise on August 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi
    I have made many of your recipes, they are always delicious and I have received many compliments from guests.
    The French Apple Cake a family favorite. Can it be frozen after baking?
    Thank you

    • — Susie Factor on August 29, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes! Yes, this can be frozen. See the bottom of the recipe for freezer-friendly instructions.

      • — Jenn on August 30, 2021
      • Reply
  • LOVE this cake. Just ate three pieces as soon as I flipped it and sugared it. I did not have any rum so I substituted with “J.Seeds Apple Cider Whiskey”. Delicious! I did find it to be just a tad soggy, but I think that’s an oven issue for me (don’t think it actually heats to the setting) and next time (which is probably tonight) I will try to bake it a little longer. I used apples from our tree, which we still have yet to definitively identify, but they worked great. Will make again and again and again. And again. And even after that.

    • — Sarah C on August 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Jenn:
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. It has become my go-to choice. It is simple, elegant and delicious.
    Perhaps the greatest compliment comes from my husband, who is not a dessert lover. He claims he can eat a piece every day.
    Lisa

    • — Lisa Oatway on August 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this for my book group. Very easy to make and SO delicious.

    • — Ana on August 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can you use frozen apples? Any change in recipe required? Loved it!

    • — Paula on August 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • I’ve only made this with fresh apples, but I suspect it would work with frozen apples as well (with no changes in the recipe). I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on August 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • I just love the simplicity of this recipe , made the original version several times! This time I doubled the recipe (and used 1/2 butter + 1/2 olive oil) ; Turned out delicious and moist. This is a keeper and thanks so much for sharing

    • — Anita on August 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this just this morning, followed recipe exactly ,it came out perfectly , took to a small gathering with some family, they loved its light buttery flavor and texture with the apples. Mine looked exactly like the picture you have with the recipe. Will definitely make again!

    • — Mary on August 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • Such a great recipe! The cake turned out perfectly and was simple to make

    • — Aisha Lincz on August 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hello, can I chop the apples the night before? Thank You Jenn.

    • — Mary on August 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, but I’d toss them with just a touch of lemon juice to keep them from getting overly brown. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • Fantastic recipe!! My SIL told me to toss out all of my recipes and keep this one. The family loved it!!

    • — Annette Sakizadeh on August 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • Thanks for the wonderful recipe. May i know can this apple cake be serve cold?

    • — Love on August 16, 2021
    • Reply
    • You could serve it cold, but I think it’s best warm or at room temperature.

      • — Jenn on August 16, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Is there a substitute for the rum? Or is it needed?
    Thanks!

    • — Aisha Lincz on August 10, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Aisha, You can use apple juice, apple cider, or milk in place of the rum. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on August 11, 2021
      • Reply
  • If I doubled the recipe would it be okay in a 9 x 13 pan

    • — Sue on August 7, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Sue, that should work. Bake time may be a bit longer but keep a close eye on it. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 9, 2021
      • Reply
  • YUM. Just made it and scored it a ten!

    • — Louise on August 7, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Does the cake not rise much? If I use a smaller cake tin resulting in a taller cake, will it work? I’d have to increase the time in the oven probably?

    Thanks in advance!
    Sharon

    • — Sharon on August 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • That’s correct, the cake is pretty low profile. You could use an 8-inch cake pan to get slightly more height. It may take about 5 minutes longer to bake, but keep a close eye on it.

      • — Jenn on August 4, 2021
      • Reply
  • Could I cook this in a glass pie pan? Would the baking directions be different?

    • — Renae Morgan on August 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Renae, As long as your pie pan is deep dish it should work. And glass will work — just keep an eye on it and reduce the heat by 25°F if it looks like it’s starting to brown around the edges. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 4, 2021
      • Reply
  • What a fabulous recipe. Just stunning. The smell whilst baking is something else. Loved it! Thank you 🙂

    • — Desiree on July 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Quick general question for you — we use booze (rum, Grand Marnier, etc) in our cooking, but aren’t big liquor drinkers, so we end up with these huge bottles that sit on our shelf for a long time (stored in a cool, dark place but opened). Do you ever use old-ish liquors in baking, or do you always buy fresh?

    • — Ric on July 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Ric, I use oldish. 🙂

      • — Jenn on July 22, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks for the quick reply! Baked this last week and it was delicious. Moist, right amount of rum, super apple-y. Great with vanilla ice cream for sure!

        • — Ric on July 28, 2021
        • Reply
  • Just a fantastic delicious easy cake!

    • — Leah on July 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is always a winner at my house, last time I switched it up a bit. We had substituted the apples for peaches and added a half a teaspoon of cinnamon. It was so lovely, even on a warm sunny day.

    • — Marina on July 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • Jen, do you think peaches would work in this recipe instead of apples?
    Diane

    • — Diane on July 16, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes, I think peaches would work nicely here.

      • — Jenn on July 17, 2021
      • Reply
  • This is an excellent cake, it soon became one of our favourites. Made it with fresh sour cherries yesterday and the taste is really delicious!

    • — Martina Pozdechová on July 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • Is there a temperature and time conversion I can use if I have an 8 inch round cake pan?

    It’s a great cake; I’ve made it before (and also today) but my cooking time and temp was a bit trial and error. I did 50 minutes at 325 but I wonder if there’s a better, more accurate conversion.

    Thanks

    • — Matt on July 12, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Matt, I’d keep it the same temperature the same; it may take about 5 minutes longer in the oven, but keep a close eye on it. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 12, 2021
      • Reply

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