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 over a bowl for this delicious apple cake. She never gave me a recipe (she didn’t cook from them) 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

Print Recipe
Servings: 6-8


  • 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


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch springform or regular cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  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. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chopped apples.
  4. 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.


Add your review or comment!

Leave a comment or review

  • Judy

    This has become my favorite cake! Just the right size to take to my book club meetings and for dinner with friends. It is so easy to mix together and always comes out of the oven perfect. I love this recipe.

  • 3way1

    This sounded so good that I bought a fifth of dark rum just so I could make it. Well, it was just as good as I had imagined it would, and now I have enough rum to make it…probably as long as I live. (I’m 76)
    What a lovely dessert to place in front of my guests and family. Homemade delectable goodness!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • Karen

    I have made this several times and it always comes out predictably delicious. The rum really adds depth of flavor. This is great to eat any time of day. Usually start at breakfast!

  • mona cote

    I made this, but without the rum as I am not a fan. Of course, it felt that something was lacking, so if I make this again, I would increase the vanilla or maybe add some spice-maybe apple pie spice?

  • Bridget

    My family loves a sweet treat for weekend meals. This was so easy and I loved that the ingredients are always on hand. Nice and light and loved the apple flavor!

  • Vera

    Hi Jennifer
    I made this cake twice. Since I like lot’s of fruit in my cakes, I used 3 cups of chopped apples for this recipe. Taste is out of this world, but my friends complained that cake was falling apart-too crumbly. I guess it is because I used too many apples. Please tell me many cups of chopped apples I have to use. When you say 2 apples-small,medium,large,it doesn’t mean so much to me, I need to somehow measure.Please help.I need to make it in August for my birthday. I love your site and ALL recipes.

    • Jenn

      Hi Vera, Thanks for your comment. So glad you have enjoyed the recipes! As for the cake, I use 2 medium-large baking apples, which yields 3-1/2 – 4 cups, so I don’t think you’re using too many — if anything, not enough! Try adding more fruit to see if that makes a difference, as that will add more moisture to the cake. And Happy early birthday :)

  • Shelly

    Hi Jenn,

    Is there a substitute for the rum?

    • Jenn

      Hi Shelly, Rum is an important flavor in this cake but perhaps you could try apple cider instead for a more intense apple flavor. You might also want to bump up the vanilla a bit, or even add a teaspoon of cinnamon to replace the rum flavor.

  • Sandy

    Jenn -
    Would like to make this as all your recipes have been wonderful! But can I use extra-large eggs as that’s what I tend to have in the house?
    Many thanks, Sandy

    • Jenn

      Hi Sandy, Absolutely, the extra large eggs will work just fine.

  • Chris

    This cake is amazing. I used brandy instead of rum and it was delicious. Thank you for sharing!

  • Danita

    My go to apple cake recipe. I keep a bottle of dark rum on hand specifically for this recipe. Easy, moist and delicious. Great cake to take to book club or other events. Perfect for Thanksgiving

  • This is my “go-to, quick and easy I want something sweet” cake! It’s the perfect amount of sweetness with a scoop of fresh whipped cream. Absolute favorite for those fresh picked apples! Recipe is spot on!

  • Mary Redmiles

    This apple cake is both delicious and an elegant dessert. My son-in-law who lived in France as a young boy absolutely loves it! Must bring back wonderful culinary memories for him living there! I’m gonna try it again this weekend using honeycrisp apples…can’t wait!

  • Shelly

    I made this cake, it turned out beautiful. Im not used to that much sugar so next time ill skip out on the sugar top. I also grated the apple rather than having chunks.

  • Kathy

    I didn’t have any normal rum so I used some Screech, just perfect. Still a gentle taste of rum

Add your review or comment!