French Apple Cake

5 stars based on 4 votes

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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.

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Begin with the simplest ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, sweet baking apples, vanilla, rum, eggs and salt.

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Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl.

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Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

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Add the eggs one at a time.

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Mix in the vanilla extract and rum.

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Slowly beat in the flour mixture.

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Fold in the chopped apples.

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Pour the batter into a cake pan and sprinkle with sugar. This makes a nice top crust.

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Bake the cake until lightly golden.  Serve warm, with or without lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Enjoy!

 

French Apple Cake

Servings: 6-8

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 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

Instructions

  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.

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    This apple rum cake was fabulous! Normally, my husband doesn’t eat dessert, but he’s been nibbling constantly! I’m making it to take to a friends on Saturday and I’ll make one for T’giving as well! Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe!

    - barbara on October 12, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Absolutely fantastic recipe. Phenomenal flavor, buttery and delicious.

    - Joanne P on October 5, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I love this recipe. Being French, it appeals to me like a warm hug at the New Year. I have made it twice in two days. The second day I made one and a half times the recipe. It was a little higher, more like a CANADIAN CAKE and my guests were thrilled. For my European friends, I make the regular recipe. Try it you’ll love it.

    - Sharon on October 4, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Another home run (rum– LOL), Jenn!
    I made 2 of these cakes– one in a springform pan and the other in a round cake pan. I was afraid the cake pan one wouldn’t release and I’d end up with a tasty, but broken result, but I was wrong. Both were intact and delicious.
    Plan on making your cocktail meatballs next week for a large gathering instead of the typical frozen meatballs and grape jelly recipe.
    Thanks again for all the new additions to my old, stained recipe collection.

    - Judi Berlin on September 27, 2014 Reply
  • I made this French Apple Cake modifying to gluten free flours and it was delicious. Not having dark rum, I subbed brandy, also. Was a big hit! It’s a keeper.

    - Michele on August 20, 2014 Reply
  • I didn’t have any normal rum so I used some Screech, just perfect. Still a gentle taste of rum

    - Kathy on March 11, 2014 Reply
  • 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.

    - Shelly on November 18, 2013 Reply
  • 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!

    - Mary Redmiles on November 14, 2013 Reply
  • 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!

    - Tara Fodor on November 14, 2013 Reply
  • 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

    - Danita on November 6, 2013 Reply
  • This cake is amazing. I used brandy instead of rum and it was delicious. Thank you for sharing!

    - Chris on November 5, 2013 Reply
  • 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

    - Sandy on September 10, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Sandy, Absolutely, the extra large eggs will work just fine.

      - Jenn on September 10, 2013 Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Is there a substitute for the rum?

    - Shelly on August 7, 2013 Reply
    • 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.

      - Jenn on August 7, 2013 Reply
  • 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 approx.how 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.

    - Vera on July 26, 2013 Reply
    • 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 :)

      - Jenn on July 26, 2013 Reply
  • 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!

    - Bridget on March 10, 2013 Reply
  • 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?

    - mona cote on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • 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!

    - Karen on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • 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.

    - 3way1 on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • 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.

    - Judy on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • Do you have to refirigerate it after it is baked? Thank you it sounds delicious.

    - Kathleen on November 12, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Kathleen, You don’t need to refrigerate it, but you can as long as you bring it to room temp before serving.

      - Jenn on November 13, 2012 Reply
  • would this cake be freezable?

    - Linda on November 10, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Linda, Yes you can definitely freeze it.

      - Jenn on November 10, 2012 Reply
      • Great — thanks. Of course, that’s assuming I don’t eat the second cake I made to freeze it. Seriously, I cannot stop nibbling at it. Maybe I should make your scones to keep me occupied :)

        - Linda on November 10, 2012 Reply
  • I decided to try this with pears since I have an abundance and the recipe reminds me of some of the Italian pear cake recipes I have seen. It turned out great.

    - Danita on October 21, 2012 Reply
  • Made this cake on Friday – gone in less than 24 hours !! I keep finding that all the recipes on this blog are as they should be – perfectly scrumptious !! I could not help myself and added a handful of walnuts. Jennifer – since I am visiting my parents in Puerto Rico, I used Don Q rum – it was out of this world !! Thanks fr all the recipes. Tomorrow I am making another winner – middle eastern chicken.

    - daymel on October 7, 2012 Reply
  • Love this cake… when I varied the recipe, I added some butterscotch chips that gave it kind of a candy apple taste… yummmmm

    - Holly on October 2, 2012 Reply
  • I’ve made this twice and my family loves it. I did add a few shakes of cinnamon the second time. The cake seems to be even better on the second day.

    - Julie Backas on October 2, 2012 Reply
  • I tried the cake..it was yumm :)..i also dusted some cinnamon powder along with the icing sugar…i love apples and cinnamon…thx for the recipe again :)

    - Meera Money on August 5, 2012 Reply
  • sure that helps… :) one more query..when we say a cup of flour, what does it come to? cos at times some recipes says 150 gms, some 200 and so forth..and at times the measurements go hay wire..so hope u mean its 200gm of flour :)

    - Meera Money on July 20, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Meera, Unfortunately, in the States we don’t weigh our measurements, at least not in home cook recipes. To keep it consistent, I always use the spoon and level method. Instead of scooping the flour directly into the measuring cup (which would pack it in), I spoon it into the measuring cup until it is overflowing, then level the cup off with the back edge of a knife.

      - Jenn on July 20, 2012 Reply
      • thanks a lot Jenn for the inputs. that surely helps :)

        - Meera Money on July 28, 2012 Reply
  • Is there a substitute for the alocohol (rum). if i choose to omit the rum, what else do i add?

    - Meera Money on July 19, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Meera, You could use a teaspoon of vanilla; it won’t be the same but the cake will still be very good. Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on July 19, 2012 Reply
  • This French Apple Cake looks delicious, I’ll have to give it a try.

    - Angela J on June 26, 2012 Reply
  • I would love to figure out how to make this as a scone. Suggestions?

    - Karen O on June 24, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Karen, This recipe wouldn’t work for scones, but check out my cream scone recipe…you could always add some diced apples to it.

      - Jenn on June 25, 2012 Reply
  • I can’t wait to try this recipe, hopefully tomorrow. It looks simple to make, delicious and not overly gooey sweet, my guys are going to love this one.

    - Sue on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • This is my 12 year old daughters favorite cake. She even wants to make it for her birthday!

    - Janice on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • Very nice cake that can be for a brunch as well as an any time dessert.

    - Cheryl on May 16, 2012 Reply
  • This is definitly going to be made soon. I LOVE your site!

    - Lisa Ballantyne on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • I used the light rum and it came out just fine. The powdered sugar adds the perfect amount of sweetness.

    - Schmidty on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Oh this was good, this was very good. I have a friend who loves apple cake so I made this for his birthday. I was lucky to get a bite of this. Rich and full of lovely flavors!

    - debb on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • I’m thinking about serving this for Easter breakfast!!!!
    Cake for breakfast!!!

    - Carol on April 7, 2012 Reply
  • I’m not a great cook but this recipe turned out really well. I think the cake is good even two days later after being in the refrig. I did not have dark rum so bought a small airline bottle size of Bacardi Gold, a lighter rum and it worked fine. I’m not a rum fan and I did taste a slight rum flavor at first but found it was ok for me. My husband did not even taste the rum. I used a 9 1/2 inch springform because that is what I had but otherwise followed the recipe exactly.

    - Marsha in FL on April 4, 2012 Reply
  • I must try this! I don’t care if I’m on a diet. It’s all in your head anyway… right? … Right?

    - Brecken on March 8, 2012 Reply
  • Ooh la la! This has become one of my husband’s favorite desserts. The rum favor and the texture of the chopped apples is perfect. It is so simple to make. I have started sprinkling a bit of turbinado sugar on the top before baking, which adds a nice crunch. We typically serve with whipped cream. My oldest son usually finishes any leftovers for breakfast. :)

    - Liesel on March 8, 2012 Reply
    • Love your idea on the turbinado sugar, Liesel. Thank you for the suggestion.

      - Jenn on March 8, 2012 Reply
  • This cake is very elegant and in appearance and taste. My son-in-law, who lived in France as a child loves it! Thank you for the recipe!

    - Mary on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I have made this like … five times. For myself. I eat all of it. I justify this by the fact that it is mostly apple, which is healthy, right??

    But seriously, this cake is SO GOOD. I love apple pie, apple crisps, and apple muffins … this apple cake has joined my list of favorites.

    I was worried when I baked it for the first time, because it seemed like there wasn’t enough “cake,” but it bakes up so nice and fluffy. I also use whiskey instead of rum and it goes very well (smells and tastes delicious!); also I like to dust some powdered sugar on top. Deeeelicious.

    - Victoria on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • My mother made this cake way back when. I hadn’t thought of it until I read your recipe. There were 6 of us in our family so there were never any leftovers. I always wished she would make two, so there would be an extra piece for the late-night snack. I have to make this. Thanks for the memories.

    - Linda on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Love this recipe. Ate it for dessert and breakfast with coffee the next day. Can’t wait to try it with other fruits.

    - Kelsey Quane on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I need to add this to my pinterest recipe board so I can remember to make it once we move into our new home and I get my kitchen stuff out of storage.

    - Danita on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • This is one of my favorite recipes from your site. Hard to find a dessert that isn’t so heavy. I love apple pie but I might like this apple cake better!

    - Andrew on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I have made this several times, and it is wonderful. I use spiced rum and add a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon. Thanks for sharing your great recipes and ideas with us!

    - Cory on January 8, 2012 Reply
  • Made this for the third time to bring to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving. Each time it came out great … wonderfully simple & tasty. Thanks for this recipe.

    - Patti on November 27, 2011 Reply
  • Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe. I read your post, realized I had everything on hand and needed to kill time my kids (2 and 4). With my two helpers we had this baby in the oven in about 20 minutes or so. Super easy. It came out so moist and tasty. Mine stuck to the bottom of the pan, but I think I didn’t flip it soon enough. I don’t really taste the rum now, but maybe that is because I was drinking a rum and coke with dinner :).

    - Elizabeth on October 23, 2011 Reply
  • Thank you for your input regarding substitutions for the rum. I often shy away from recipes that include alcohol because I understand that it is an important factor to the overall results. I can not use any alcohol, whether or not the recipe is cooked. Having options is encouraging me to attempt this recipe. Much appreciation!

    - Mrs. KD on October 20, 2011 Reply
  • Chef,
    I’m a recent culinary school graduate and enjoy your e-mails. I tried this cake, my wife loves it and I also introduced it to the chef that I work under and it has been added to our desert menu.
    Thank you.

    - John S on October 15, 2011 Reply
  • This cake is delicious! And the texture is divine. I actually used almond extract since I didn’t have rum or vanilla on-hand. Thank you for sharing!

    - Lora on October 11, 2011 Reply
  • I have made this cake eight times and everyone loves it. The rum and apples were hit at school and at our community Rosh HaShana party.

    - Tamyla Abraham on October 11, 2011 Reply
  • Neelu, 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.

    - Jennifer on October 5, 2011 Reply
  • I make apple cake pretty often but I’ve never added rum. I’ll try next time.

    - WeLoveChicken on October 5, 2011 Reply
  • Can rum be replaced with something else?? We do not drink ….

    - Neelu on October 5, 2011 Reply
  • I made this today and it looks, smells, and tastes delicious. I was wondering if you have ever tried vanilla paste instead of vanilla extract. I love using it especially when my baked goods are light colored because you can see the vanilla specks which I find is an added dimension, visually. I have vanilla paste in the same brand of vanilla extract you have in the picture. I used honeycrisp apples and bought extra to eat. You have done it again! Divine simplicity.

    - Karen Tannenbaum on October 1, 2011 Reply
  • made this this afternoon….very good!! simple too. loved the slightly crunchy top….i did top w/ a little cinnamon along w/ the sugar.. thanks for such great recipes…have enjoyed several.

    - kim reaser on October 1, 2011 Reply
  • Hi Louisa,

    It’s not really a high cake. It measures just shy of 1-1/2″ tall. If you’re looking at it in a 9-inch cake pan, you should see about an inch of the pan over the cake. Sometimes the photos can be a bit deceiving b/c of the angle. If it’s flatter than mine, the only thing I can think of is that your pan is too large or your baking powder might be expired. Hope that helps, and for what it’s worth, it should still taste wonderful even if it is a little flat. Hope it turns out!

    - Jennifer on September 28, 2011 Reply
  • Delicious cake!!! Made this for dessert tonight and there wasn’t a crumb left. Thank you!

    - Lisa on September 28, 2011 Reply
  • I’ve already made this twice! It’s wonderful; thank you for sharing! I used spiced rum and thought it was perfect (I’m not a rum lover and find dark rum too much for me). I also added a pinch of cinnamon.

    - Cory on September 28, 2011 Reply
  • I just took mine out of the oven, and it does not look as fluffy as yours…mine is very flat…followed the directions exactly…what could I have done wrong?

    - Louisa on September 28, 2011 Reply
  • I also love the fact that you recipes do not require tons of ingredients like other sites most you have on hand already :)

    - Beautiful1000000 on September 28, 2011 Reply
  • I tried it and it was great! I love how your recipes are to the point, like here is what you need and how to do it. I also like that your recipes can be printed pretty much on one page as well. When I used to find recipes on other sites it used to print 3 pages of adds that could not be removed.. I have been making your recipes for a while now and they are all great. Keep up the great work!

    - Beautiful1000000 on September 28, 2011 Reply
  • I only have spiced rum, which I think might be nice. What do you think?

    - Carole McKibben on September 27, 2011 Reply
  • Hi Monica, I’d encourage you to use real rum. The flavor is essential to the recipe and leaving it out will change the texture of the cake as well. Sorry! Sometimes I buy the mini bottles if I can find them.

    - Jennifer on September 27, 2011 Reply
  • I was wondering if I had to use real rum, or if I could use rum extract instead, since its such a small amount. We don’t usually uave hard drinks like that here for very long. Thanks!

    - Monica S on September 27, 2011 Reply
  • That looks lovely and very easy. Living in Norway, the apple cake is a delicacy, and mine is quite perfect… however, it lacks rum. I am trying this one!

    - Vaniljekjeks on September 27, 2011 Reply
  • I’ve made something similar while camping in a Dutch oven. It was delicious but not as refined as this lol. I’ll definitely have to try this one at home!

    - Britt W on September 27, 2011 Reply

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