French Apple Cake
The summer after my junior year in college, I worked as an au pair in Paris. My host mother was a Pharmacist by day — we actually lived in an apartment right over the family pharmacy — and a bon vivant and gourmet cook by night. She was always entertaining and would frequently enlist my help in the kitchen once the kids were in bed. I still have vivid memories of her crushing peppercorns with a frying pan and igniting cognac sauce for her steak au poivre, tending her roast leg of lamb in the oven while sipping wine, and peeling apples for her delicious apple cake. I didn’t think to get the cake 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.
Begin with the simplest ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, sweet baking apples, vanilla, rum, eggs and salt.
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time.
Mix in the vanilla extract and rum.
Slowly beat in the flour mixture.
Fold in the chopped apples.
Pour the batter into a cake pan and sprinkle with sugar. This makes a nice top crust.
Bake the cake until lightly golden. Serve warm, with or without lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
French Apple Cake
- 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 sweet baking apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I like Honeycrisp, Fuji or Golden Delicious)
- Confectioners' sugar (optional), for decorating cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch springform or regular cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- 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. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chopped apples.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool until just warm. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan if using. Using a fine sieve, dust with Confectioners' sugar (if using). Cake can be served warm or room temperature, with or without lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
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